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

It’s time for the third and final instalment of my A-Z of workplace happiness.

So to complete the set, here we go with N-Z of workplace happiness.

N is for negativity bias. Did you know we all have an inbuilt tendency to focus on the negative over the positive? This increased awareness of negativity comes from our caveman days when we needed to always be on the look out for dangers. It’s not quite so helpful in 2022… In order to redress the balance we can take time to spot, and even record, the positive things we experience on a daily basis. We can also learn to identify when our brains are being unhelpfully negative and challenge our negative perception of the situation with more positive options. 

O is for opportunities. I’m specifically talking about opportunities for growth. In order to feel fulfilled at work we usually need to know there is room for us to develop and expand our skills and knowledge. When was the last time you stretched yourself, took a step out of your comfort zone and learned something new? Next time an opportunity to challenge yourself comes about, take it, or even better create the opportunity yourself. Leaders, do your people have sufficient opportunities for growth? 

P is for purpose. In order to feel truly happy at work we need to be feel like the work we are doing has a purpose. Take time to reflect and remember why your work is important to you. If you are struggling to connect with your core role, think about other ways you could find purpose at work. Perhaps you could volunteer to be on a committee, support an affinity network, or start an environmental initiative. 

Q is for questions. How often do you spend time asking the important questions at work? And I don’t mean ‘are you going to meet that deadline?’ or ‘where do I find that document?’. I mean the really important questions like ‘how are you doing?’ and ‘what can I do to support you?’. Taking time to connect with people, especially as leaders, is vital. Ask open questions and allow the person time to fully answer. You don’t always have to jump to solutions either, sometimes just listening is enough. 

R is for relationships. Social connections are the biggest driver of happiness. Taking time to invest in our workplace relationships is crucial if we want to feel happy at work. Find opportunities to have conversations with colleagues that are task-orientated. When we work remotely we have to think even more about how to create these chances to bond with colleagues, it is possible we just need to be a more intentional about it when we aren’t in a physical workplace. 

S is for stress. The reality for most of us is that we will experience some degree of stress at work. The key when it comes to our happiness at work is how we deal with that stress. People with a growth mindset see challenges as temporary and surmountable, people with a fixed mindset see problems as terminal and insurmountable. Developing a growth mindset can help us overcome challenge and stress, as can learning to work within your circle of control – focusing on the things you can change rather than the things you can’t. 

T is for trust. When employees are asked what is important to them at work, trust consistently comes high on the list. As leaders there are a number of ways we can build a culture of trust. Being honest, showing vulnerability and communicating effectively are just some of the ways to build trust.  

U is for understanding. Being able to demonstrate empathy helps build relationships and form those important social connections. By showing a willingness to understand someone else’s situation, we lay the foundations for a meaningful relationship.  

V is for values. Does your organisation have a clear, well-defined set of values? How do you ensure those values are part of everyday working life? Leaders, talk to your people about what the company values mean to them and together find ways to bring them to life. 

W is for wellbeing. Wellbeing is an important part of any happy workplace. Being able to look after our physical and mental wellbeing at work is vital if we want to thrive and not just survive. If your work is desk based try to find opportunities to move during the day. Perhaps a lunchtime walk or even setting an alarm to remind you to get up and stretch at regular intervals? 

X is for X-factor. What is your X-factor, your secret sauce? What do you do better than anyone else? Being able to exercise our key strengths is often an overlooked component of happiness at work. Find an opportunity to exercise a signature strength of yours for a happiness boost.

Y is for yoga. I have declared many times in the past that happiness at work isn’t about simply providing free yoga classes and the like. We have to move away from the belief that perks and gimmicks alone will make our people happy. Having said that, I am a big yoga fan as it supports both physical and mental wellbeing, so why not trying making some simple yoga stretches part of your happiness toolkit? 

Z is for zeal. Defined as an energy or enthusiasm, a zeal for life is what we are all after but it’s not always easy to achieve or maintain, especially at work. Start by focusing on small changes you can make, such as noticing positive things that happen, practising gratitude and self-care. 

So that’s my A-Z of workplace happiness completed. Hope you enjoyed it!

#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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