A Happy Workplace is A Productive Workplace – How to Build One
What makes you happy? Family, friends, shopping, travelling… the list is endless, but have you asked yourself, am I truly happy at work? Are the people I work with happy? Are my employees happy? Since most of us spend over 40 hours at work every week, it is important that work plays a major role in shaping our levels of happiness. The findings within the field of positive psychology in the last decade clearly suggest that it is critical to ask yourself these questions and start finding the secrets to creating happy workplaces.
Arbejdsglaede is a Danish word that belongs to Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Nowhere else in the world is there a word that literally means “happiness at work”. (Arbejds – at work, Glaede – joy or happiness) – and no wonder the Scandinavian countries top the happiness charts. Considering we spend more time with our colleagues than our family and friends, maintaining high levels of happiness at work is essential for healthy and successful life. It involves the simple idea of looking forward to Mondays and having an office environment that energises you instead of draining you.
Why You Should be Happy at Work
Researchers from the University of Warwick in the UK found that people who are happy at work are around 12% more productive. Shawn Anchor, author of The Happiness Advantage, estimates the benefits of a happy workplace to be a 37% increase in sales, 31% increase in productivity and 19% increase in task accuracy. He believes happiness at work leads to significant improvement in the health and quality of life of the employees. Similarly, a study by English National Academy of Sciences conducted in 2011 found that happy people live longer.
There have been a diverse lot of researches in this field and all of them clearly show that happier workplaces not only contribute to increased commitment, productivity, creativity, cooperation and motivation among employees, but also translate into improved financial results for the company. It’s easy to assume that providing benefits such as high salary, bonus, free lunch, gym membership and free medical services makes employees happy at work. Although these benefits have a significant impact on attracting talent, they are insufficient to build a workplace where employees feel happy. A 2010 study by Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman found that people tend to feel happier the more money they make, up until a point, and “after that, [happiness] kind of levelled off.”
Five Keys to a Happy Workplace
There are many approaches to the concept of happiness at work, but all of them revolve around the same pillars. American psychologist Martin Seligman designed the PERMA Model, which represents five core elements of happiness and well-being. PERMA stands for Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishments. Danish company Woohoo Inc., an international expert on happiness at work, says that results and relationships are the most important factors in keeping people happy at work. Are you happy? If not, you can be…with a bit of work, says Sonja Lyubomirsky , professor of psychology at the University of California, who spent her research career studying human happiness.
#1 Give recognition:
Recognition and appreciation are much more relevant for the happiness and loyalty factors. They are low-cost but they can give a high-return in the long-term performance of both the employee and the company. In a results-driven environment, organizations need to consider new avenues to recognize employee achievements and reward them in order to drive motivation, push innovation and maintain happiness.
#2 Hire happy employees:
During recruitment processes, look not only for candidates who meet the job requirements, but also for those with a high level of happiness. The well-known sandwich shop franchise chain Pret A Manger believes that it is easier for them to hire happy people and teach them to make sandwiches than the other way around. So, it’s important to use the recruitment process to try and get an indication of applicants’ personalities and whether they seem to approach situations with positivity or pessimism.
#3 Contain negativity:
Negative emotions are three times more contagious than positive. While supportive teams can drive success at full speed, negative behaviour can cause real setbacks. Leaders should be able to know the signs of negativity and stop it before it spreads. The best way to combat workplace negativity is to keep it from occurring in the first place, so companies need to provide employees with the opportunity to express opinions, use consistent fair treatment, build trust and respect, be inclusive and offer growth opportunities.
#4 Celebrate success:
To keep high performing teams and employees happy and engaged, organizations should consider celebrating success a priority. Celebrations boost morale, strengthen teams, help employees form connections, increase engagement and spread happiness. LEGO is a brand that has been successful for generations, but they almost went bankrupt once. Learning from its mistakes, LEGO bounced back and when the new CEO Jorgen Vig Knudstorp announced the company’s first profit, the news was received with silence. LEGO didn’t have a culture of celebrating success, so employees didn’t know how to react. Celebrating success should be an integral part of every meeting, because it has a huge impact on the motivation and productivity of the employees. Some great example can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d–sTdF1Ss0
#5 Allow employees to make mistakes:
Good employees make mistakes and great leaders allow them to — within obvious boundaries. When employees don’t feel free to make mistakes, they are afraid of effectively and openly expressing their opinions. Making mistakes allows employees to try new things outside their comfort zone, leading to greater creativity, greater productivity, and ultimately greater job satisfaction.
As an advocate of workplace happiness, I strongly encourage frequent open dialogues between management teams and employees. It not only strengthens the employee relations but also inculcates a sense of responsibility among employees and creates a collaborative work environment, which leads to increased levels of happiness. Happiness at work should be the norm in organizations, not the exception, because when we are happy at work, we are happier at home.
At ANSR, we believe that happiness at work is an important factor to making the company more productive, creative, thus helping our clients succeed. Our focus is on strengthening employee relationships within the company, encouraging collaboration, appreciating team members’ achievements and celebrating company milestones and successes.
About the Author
Katarzyna ("Kasia") leads ANSR’s Eastern Europe operations from her base in Poland. She has over 18 years' business experience, working as HR Director in international and local companies across the IT, retail, shared services centers, and travel and tourism industries.
Prior to joining ANSR, Kasia held senior HR roles at Sabre Inc., Alexander Mann Solutions and OTCF S.A.
Kasia holds a master’s degree in Psychology and is a lecturer at two universities in Poland, specializing in applying practical aspects of psychology to business management. She is a certified executive coach, business trainer & facilitator and advocate of happiness at work.