I sing the “Happy” song (see the attached video.) I drank the Kool-Aid. I’m clapping along. Happy, happy, happy, happy……Clap along! I am sitting around the campfire singing Kumbayah. I am every happy cliché in the book.
And that’s okay with me because I believe that creating happiness in the workplace is the key to performance, productivity, and bottom-line impact.
The Real Happy Happy
The kind of happiness I’m referring to isn’t just about cool office spaces, free food, or nap rooms at work. It’s about why organizations are using these tactics and why they work.
- People want to work hard and realize the benefits of doing a good job.
- They want to feel good about their work.
- They want to be happy.
Creating a Culture of Happiness
Creating a culture of happiness starts from the top. As organization development professionals, convincing leaders this is important is our job.
It begins with job structure by:
- Giving people a challenging job with clear goals
- Holding them accountable
- Providing the right tools to do the job
- Proper coaching and guidance to do it well
Add autonomy and recognition to this mix and you have a recipe for happiness, but that’s not all…
The final touches to creating a culture of happiness revolve around creature comforts. If we are asking people to give their all to our organization, then we will want them to be:
- Comfortable (desks, chairs, pods, standing desks)
- Well-nourished (free food)
- Well-rested (nap rooms)
- Healthy (exercise programs)
- Have the ability to work at their own pace and on their own time tables (flexible scheduling)
- Collaborate with others to help facilitate good ideas (technology, communal work spaces).
- Sprinkle in a little bit of fun and you have got it!
Think of Google
This is where the office slides (instead of steps) and ping-pong tables come in – think Google. Believe it or not, people aren’t slacking off when they take part in these activities during the work day. If they were, why are these perks so popular and why do organizations continue to use them?
My answer is because they work and here’s why.
Needing a Brain Break
Have you ever worked on a project for so long that you just needed a “brain break”? I have and when this happens I usually go for a walk, listen to some music, stretch, or do anything else to clear my mind for a while. Our brains need time to synthesize everything that is going on around us and our bodies need to be nourished, exercised, and well-rested.
When people feel good and are given the autonomy to do their work in their own way, they perform at their best. If they need a nap in the middle of the day, so be it, as long as their work gets done on time and is done well.
This also applies at times when we need a creative outlet, time to exercise, or take care of family obligations.
By allowing people to take care of personal needs during the typical workday, they are able to better focus on their work upon return, while at the same time it encourages their brain to switch gears and process things from a different perspective. This “downtime” eases people’s daily worries and concerns and sets the stage for optimal work performance.
Creating a Culture of Happiness
The benefits of creating a culture of happiness far outweigh the costs to carry out and run them. The difficult part is creating a culture that believes in this model and understands and promotes the idea that it’s ok for people to have fun at work, take some leisure breaks, and take care of themselves and their family during the work day.
This is very different from punching in and punching out with the same scheduled breaks each day, which many people are used to.
When giving people some freedom and autonomy, it builds trust between employees and the organization. Employees feel valued and respected. And this is quite motivating!
Yes, there will always be slackers and people who take advantage of the system, but there will always be slackers no matter what kind of culture you create in the workplace. And those need to be dealt with separately, so why not give these ideas a try?
How are you helping to promote a culture of happiness? What kinds of programs have you heard about? What are you doing to make sure that people think of your place as a happy one? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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