Updated: Jan 13, 2020
There's a lot of talk about 'happiness' in the workplace. Is the pursuit of happiness (in the traditional sense) really the goal for organisations? Or does it mean something else?
Going right back to basics, here is the definition of happiness.
noun the state of being happy. "she struggled to find happiness in her life"synonyms:contentment, pleasure, contentedness, satisfaction, cheerfulness, cheeriness, merriment, merriness, gaiety, joy, joyfulness, joyousness, joviality, jollity, jolliness, glee, blitheness, carefreeness, gladness, delight, good spirits, high spirits, light-heartedness, good cheer, well-being, enjoyment.
So let's get one thing straight. I don't for one minute advocate a never ending search for happiness. What I do champion is the wellbeing and the feeling of pleasure people can get from doing meaningful work. Whatever the organisation's size; contentment, job satisfaction and a feeling of a meaningful contribution are the keys to workplace 'happiness'.
So where to start on the happiness journey?
At Acceler8, we have recently revisited our purpose. Our positioning statement has become 'Be Happy. Be Human.' For us 'Be Happy' means living our values of being playful and being proud. Playful in our approach to our work - we believe that by playing games people learn more effectively, and a playful manner makes the workplace more engaging for us - allowing us to be the most fulfilled version of ourselves.
So how can you introduce happy to your workplace? Here are our 'happy tips'
1. Give everyone a voice - without consequence. If people feel able to speak up and share their opinion then they will know their contribution is valued. Whether it's public, private or anonymous, the feedback you get from your people is valuable. Taking action on that feedback gives a real sense of satisfaction for those who gave it.
2. Reward great results - this goes further than a simple well done. If your culture focusses on what people do well, they will do more of it. Focussing on strength is never an excuse to ignore something you need to improve, but with a sense of achievement comes empowerment. With empowerment comes critical thinking and when you've got that skillset in your people you really can take on the world.
3. Walk the talk - when senior leaders are the embodiment of the organisations' mission, purpose and values, everyone follows. So often a business will have behaviours and values and their leaders will be behave in the opposite way. That doesn't say credibility to your people, it sends entirely the wrong signal. If the leaders don't bother, why should I?
4. Don't wait for the survey - if you rely on an annual survey to gauge satisfaction and engagement then you probably don't have an entirely engaged workforce. Your people will all react to surveys in different ways. Think of the recent elections... there will be tactical answers, angry answers and apathetic answers - none of which will give you a true reflection of engagement. 'You Said, We Did' posters in the run up to survey time doesn't fool anyone either. The answer here lies with your leaders and managers. If they engage authentically throughout the year, you will already know how engaged your people are.
5. Celebrate diversity - when we are comfortable to be who we are at work, we can ring the best of ourselves to work. Diversity isn't a buzzword - inclusion is basic human rights. Celebrating it creates safety for your people, in turn leading to a happier workplace.
6. Transparency - don't just share the good stuff. An honest and open picture about your organisation's performance (tied into giving everyone a voice) can help through the leaner times too. When everyone is invested in your success, you will see some astounding results.
Ultimately, workplace happiness is a combination of cultures where listening and sharing opinions is commonplace. Being honest and having a genuine curiosity about your colleagues build relationships, which drives engagement.
What steps are you going to take to find your 'happy'?