Alphabet Soup: The A-Z Of Workplace Happiness (Part One)

Happy September!

With this week being the week most children go back to school, or in the case of our daughter, start school for the first time, I wanted to give a nod to education in this month’s newsletter.

I have resisted the temptation to write about new beginnings (there are plenty of posts and articles out there covering that topic), instead I have decided to write my own A-Z of workplace happiness. Of course the alphabet is a fundamental building block of education, and something children learn from a very young age. This got me thinking about what the fundamentals of workplace happiness are, so here goes, part one of my A-Z…..

A is for acknowledgment. Recognising when someone has done a great job and acknowledging this is a great way to make sure they feel valued. Equally important is acknowledging when someone is struggling and taking time to understand what is going on and how you might be able to help. 

B is for boundaries. Everyone’s boundaries lie in different places. What’s comfortable, and even enjoyable, for one person might be completely off limits for someone else. Some people might work flexibly and therefore responding to emails out of normal hours is what works for them, for other people they might need to have a more fixed end to their day as they’ve got caring responsibilities. Some people might relish the opportunity to talk about themselves, their family and what they do out of work, for others they might not be so comfortable sharing this kind of detail in the workplace. 

C is for creativity. Did you know that happy people are more creative? Increased creativity is just one of the benefits of being happier at work. Conversely though, tapping into our creative side is often a great way to increase our own happiness. Try to find an opportunity to bring some creativity into your day.

D is for difference. Everyone is different and happiness means different things to different people. One size certainly doesn’t fit all when it comes to workplace happiness. Take time to understand what makes your people tick, what do they find really helpful and what is a real bugbear for them.

E is for empowerment. Feeling enabled and equipped to do your job, and do it well, is a sure recipe for workplace happiness. Purpose and meaning are big drivers of happiness and when we are empowered to do something meaningful at work, amazing things happen. It can be hard as leaders to relinquish control, so sometimes we have to work on our own mindset first to become comfortable with, and eventually embrace, letting our people truly do things for themselves.  

F is for failure. Perhaps you might think ‘failure’ is a strange entry for an A-Z of workplace happiness. In fact when we learn that it’s ok to fail, and what’s more, we have to fail to grow, we look more positively on situations that might previously have stressed us out and therefore our overall happiness levels increase.

G is for gratitude. Practising gratitude is proven to increase our happiness. Our busy lives often mean we forget to stop and reflect on the things we are grateful for. However, if we can carve out small pockets of time to reflect, and maybe write down, a few things we are thankful for this can have a huge impact on our happiness because we train our brains to look out for the good things in life, and remember them in times of challenge and adversity. 

H is for habits. Things become easier when they become habitual. For example, when you take time to write down things you are thankful for, or that have made you happy, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. The trick is to make it easy to do the thing you want to do. So if you want to get good at writing a gratitude list, leave a pen and paper by the side of your bed so you can do it every night before you go to sleep. 

So, that’s part one of my workplace happiness A-Z. Come back next month for part two! 

#happiness #culture #leadership

5 myths about happiness at work

Wrong. The absence of disease isn’t health and the absence of misery isn’t happiness. Just because we might do enough as leaders to not have our people crying at their desks doesn’t mean we are invested in their happiness. Just because an employees comes in every day, does a good job and leaves without complaining about anything doesn’t mean they are happy.

Wrong. It’s right that some some people are more naturally optimistic but, with practice, you can become happier. There is a wealth of science that shows, when we know how, we can train our brains to be more positive. Asking someone to write down three good things that have happened in the last 24 hours may appear glib but this is about training the brain to spot positive things. When we learn to look for things we see them more easily.

Wrong. In fact blind optimism is a bad thing. Who wants to be in a plane where the pilot never believes anything bad can happen so doesn’t bother doing all the safety checks (not me for sure!). Just like in the world of work we don’t want to fail to look out for the risks and dangers, we just don’t want to be overwhelmed by the fear of them.

Wrong. The science tells us that being happier at work makes us more productive, more resilient, more creative, more accurate, more analytical, less likely to take time off sick, leave or burnout. Who doesn’t want those benefits? Yes, what a great wellbeing initiative to be able to say we are interested and investing in your happiness but it goes much further than that. There are real business benefits to helping people increase their happiness.

This one is only a half myth. Yes, people need to be invested in working on their own happiness but as a leader it is for us to help them with that, to show them we value their happiness, to allow them time to work on it, to give them the tools they need to become happier at work. Importantly we need to help them understand why being happy at work is important. As a leader if you can show you are invested in your own happiness it will show your people they should invest in theirs too.

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