By Cheryl Stein
Monster Business Coach
It is very easy to get caught up in worrying if your company is going to do well and forgetting about the things that make people want to work for you. Making your organization a happy place to go to work is an essential component to the successful long-lasting business.
A happy work environment attracts good people and helps the people who work for you do the best for the company.
To create that kind of environment, it takes a strong top down and bottom up approach.
It takes creativity and presence of mind.
You can have it. You can be the one to start it. Once it gets underway, the feeling is infectious and your best bet is to think of your happy workplace as a sound investment.
Happy is not just a pipe dream. There is theory and study behind it. A whole field of Psychology is devoted to it. Martin Seligman, author of “Authentic Happiness” along with many other researchers, has done an in depth study of what makes people happy. You won’t be surprised to know that buying something new might make you happy for a few minutes but like a sugar rush, wears off really quickly. This is the workplace equivalent of landing a great contract or getting a great price reduction. It is exciting but very short lived.
The next level of happiness, which tends to last a lot longer, is the feeling that you have a pleasant life. That kind of feeling comes from liking what you are doing and feeling good about your job. The most sustainable level of happiness is being able to feel like you are giving back to this world.
There are many things you can do to make a sustainably happy organization. Here are some ways to get started:
1. Hire Happy Personalities
Hiring people who are going to help make your workplace happier will take a little thought and preparation. It is natural to focus on relevant experience and past achievements when interviewing a candidate. And you are right to want those things for your company. But ignoring the personality is a mistake.
The greatest candidate on paper might be the worst person to bring into your office. Look for the intangibles. Be very aware of how you feel around the person. Do they seem like they focus on the positives or negatives? Do they laugh? Do they smile? Do they seem like they create and nurture relationships? While their track record in terms of performance is very important, a person that brings gloom and doom to the workplace will kill productivity and motivation.
2. Be Community Minded at Work
Make a point of encouraging people to say hi to each other. Sounds simple but it is actually an incredible way to build a sense of workplace community and something that busy focused people forget. Start by making it a policy to have your executives and managers make sure to take the time to say hi. Choose ambassadors from all different levels and areas of your company to do the same. Acknowledging people can change the entire atmosphere and make your workplace be a much nicer place.
3. Get Out of the Work Routine Occasionally
We have a tendency not to focus on the big picture when we are really busy. This prevents us from creating perks or planning fun events that make the workplace happier. Treat people to something surprisingly good and fun. A day at the amusement park, a movie in the afternoon with popcorn and candy, chair massages. Anything you can think of to make people feel that you are doing something nice for them will make people feel happier.
4. Show That You Care About Your Employees
Ever hear of the Hawthorne effect
? It’s the increase in productivity in the workplace when people feel that they are cared about. It makes people happy to be asked how they are and for you to take a little time to find out how things are going in their lives. That doesn’t mean spending hours at the water cooler having conversations about people’s lives. It means remembering to take the time to say, “How are you”.
5. Encourage Some Selfish Thinking
Part of the secret to being happy at work is to encourage people to have personal career goals
. When people feel that they are working toward something, the day-to-day politics and stresses of the workplace don’t matter as much. Each challenging day can be better tolerated because it is a means to a personal end. People are able to separate themselves from their jobs and not become mired in the negativity when they are focused on reaching personal goals.6. Focus on the Positive
Lots of places get caught up in the negative. They debrief by going over what didn’t work. Turn that around. Focus on the positive. That doesn’t mean that you should ignore the things that need to be improved on, it just means that when you are looking for the good, you will find the good. If you look for the bad, everything will seem bleak.
7. Give Back With Your Employees
Thoughtful Actions = Happy Work Environment
You can have a happy workplace if you take the time to make it a happy workplace. Hire happy people. Don’t get caught up in focusing on the negative and make sure to do the little things that make a difference in people’s lives. It won’t be a major cultural change at first but I can promise you that slowly but surely, your workplace will become a better place and people will do better work.
That should make you very happy.