So, here’s a question for you, are you guilty of any of the following?

  • Focussing too heavily on staff inputs, instead of outputs
  • Policing the time taken for lunch breaks
  • Feeling resentful of requests for flexible hours
  • Being more task-focussed than people-focussed
  • Feeling under pressure and getting stressed out
  • Doing the same things with the same people in the same places

…if yes, then in the interests of happiness, read on!

In 2012, the UN General Assembly declared 20th March International Day of Happiness. Not only does the agenda identify ‘the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal’, it recognises ‘the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples’.

It is a well-known fact that happy people produce more and cost less yet organisations across the world remain fixated on inputs, tasks and profit. So, as Pharrell Williams’ Happy plays in the background, we thought it apt to consider, with the benefit of 25 years’ experience of staff and organisation development, the Top 10 Ways to Promote Employee Happiness.

Fundamentals of Employee Happiness

Empower staff 

Actively encourage individuals to put forward ideas and let them know they have the support of management to see them through to fruition. Giving staff responsibility and encouraging leadership at all levels is valuable on an individual, team and organisational level.

Encourage collaboration

Everyone gets bored of the same old, same old! Having the opportunity to collaborate with different people in different spaces at different times is re-energising. For example, Innocent Drinks don’t organise seating arrangements based on teams, and staff at all levels of the organisation sit on shared desks to remove barriers and encourage idea sharing.

Be flexible

The rapid advancement and widespread infiltration of technology means gone are the days when productive work is confined within the office walls and 9am – 5pm working hours. If someone requests something outside the norm – to come in late one morning, to work from home one day, or to have a longer lunch break – then take a moment to consider their request. Don’t assume it will always work against you.

Consider team dynamics 

Team dynamics can be the make or break of a happy office atmosphere. Concentrate on building trust and providing opportunities for staff to come to you with concerns or problems so you can address them early. Equality and Diversity training is also a must. If staff know what is acceptable behaviour from a legal and organisational view point, you will see a reduction in inappropriate banter, and increased harmony and respect.

Schedule Face–to-Face Time

By simply sitting around a table, at least once a quarter, to do a temperature check / performance review, it gives you the manager opportunity to understand individuals’ motivators, aspirations and their concerns or perceived barriers to success. Once you know these things you are better equipped to support an individual with a good balance of tasks, rewards, coaching, training, and progression planning.

Cherries on the Cake of Employee Happiness

Everyone Likes a Treat 

Who doesn’t like a treat once in a while? Take cream cakes into the office, organise a work night out, buy in pizza for lunch, let everyone leave 15 minutes early on a Friday or whatever you feel is appropriate but might go down as a little treat!

Giving Back to the Community

Social responsibility is certainly something Generation Y is keen on seeing in an organisation. Organising to be part of a sponsored race as a team, or allowing staff a couple of days a year to give back to the community is all good stuff.

Organise an Annual Event

One big team event a year is always good for morale. Make it a summer affair or something at Christmas but try to think of ideas that make the event accessible to everyone no matter their age, sex or religion. Maybe put together a team of people who don’t usually work together to gather ideas and organise it?

Mix Up the Pace

For most of us, busy is good. However being stressed out on a semi-permanent basis isn’t good for anyone. If workload has been in overload, then when you are next experiencing a lull in pace, help stress levels subside and suggest staff take a longer lunch break as a one off, or plan to take an afternoon meeting off-site.

Encourage Recreational Time

It’s a well-known fact that people need regular, proper breaks to remain productive and content. Space and geographical location is sometimes a barrier but encouraging staff to take lunch away from their desks is a good start. If you do have the luxury of space then how about a ping-pong table, or suggest a walk at lunchtime.

Claudia Cooney is the Marketing & Brand Manager at Righttrack Consultancy.