There are two ways to interpret the headline of this article. Both interpretations are, or indeed can be, true.
The first: being happy, being joyful…these things take work. Being happy starts with a mindful decision and mindful actions that need consistent work. It takes effort to build happy habits like meditating, walking in nature, and exercising rather than giving in to the passive entertainment a phone or television brings. However, this hard work pays well in happiness coins and enriches our lives.
The second: being happy at work. This is the less obvious interpretation because it's not often you hear of people celebrating a day at the office. Monday is blue. Wednesday is Humpday. Friday is friyay. We spend so much of our time resenting work and counting down to the weekend.
Unless you’re in a country that promotes 4 day work week, 5 days are spent working either at home or in the office with just 2 days are allocated to downtime - being unhappy at work is a senseless waste of our precious lives. Even if we’re earning top dollar, a mundane, miserable environment just isn’t worth it. It’s your LIFE! And your time and energy are precious.
Therefore, it is imperative as an employer and as an employee to do all we can to inject joy and happiness into the workplace. First prize is to do the work you love. However, even if you aren't in your dream job, your environment can still be one of positivity, vibrancy, and bubbly effervescence. Plus, there is a further benefit – a happy work environment sews the seeds from which productivity and success can blossom and grow. Long and short, a positive workspace will bring success to your business.
Psychologist, Harvard professor and author Shawn Achor argues that happiness actually inspires productivity. He speaks of the butterfly affect: “Each tiny move toward a more positive mindset can send ripples of positivity through our organisations, our families and our communities”.
So, how then can you create a joyful workplace?
"To engage the workforce and remain competitive, it's no longer sufficient to focus solely on benefits. Top employers create an environment where employees feel connected to the organization and have a positive work experience that's part of a rich, fulfilling life." – David Ballard, assistant executive director for applied psychology at the American Psychological Association.
Be real. Be honest.
Communicate well and often. This includes celebrating successes and being honest about challenges your organisation is facing. Don’t leave the fuzzy facts to the gossip mungers. Half-truths will fester and dash happiness and trust. Creating psychological safety is imperative to foster healthy cultures and enhance mental health. In the words of Brené Brown, “Conscious leaders dare to lead wholeheartedly.”
Yes. Everything is about moderation, including a good old chinwag with colleagues. The perception that banter can reduce productivity is not accurate. In moderation, healthy chats amongst colleagues can reduce stress and often bubble over into brainstorming, collaborative conversations. Look to create conversational areas in your office that are relaxing, inviting, and visually nourishing. Add a coffee machine for added ambiance and its comforting aroma, even add a healthy snack of two. And vitally importantly, with hybrid working, we need to be creative about how we create opportunities for this spontaneous connection when working online.
“Hybrid workplaces create both technical and relational challenges. To stay connected, we’ll need good Wi-Fi. And we’ll need even better “human Wi-Fi” - that’s why emotional intelligence is essential.” - EQ Josh, 6seconds
Actively foster a positive work environment
Openly celebrate accomplishments, throw the occasional surprise lunch (just because) and provide training for employees that helps them grow in skill and confidence. Where possible, support an open-door policy. Managers should be welcoming and easy to speak to, regardless of the issue at hand. Always talk, be openly diplomatic and never shout or belittle. This positivity filters down and waters a positive environment. Be the one that inspires employees to be positive.
Lead by example.
Smile. Laugh—radiate infectious positivity. Be professional but approachable. Being kind needn't mean being soft; it means earning respect through being diplomatic and fair.
According to a report from Inc, the primary reason employees leave their jobs is because of their managers – “People leave managers, not companies”.
As I say: Become your own CEO – Chief Effervescent Officer because effervescence is contagious!
A simple way to add happiness to your office is to plant it (so to speak). Office plants are silent therapy heroes that sit quietly in the corner. In this case, having the personality of a pot plant is an excellent thing; they boost happiness in many unexpected ways. How about sending employees a gift of plant for their home office set up?
Imagine a world where Mondays are like pink champagne. All fizzy and pink! No blue in sight. And Humpday wasn’t something to get over, and instead was seen as another opportunity to do great work with great people in a great environment. It’s easy to do if our home and office desk is surrounded by warmth and Cheshire cat smiles.