There are countless benefits to building a culture at work that focuses on workplace happiness. Research shows that being happier at work is tied to better health, more creative and effective problem solving, employees who are more willing to contribute beyond their job description, lower absenteeism, less turnover, fewer mistakes, and higher customer loyalty and retention. It was these proven benefits that inspired Dutch company, Happy Office to create and launch International Week of Happiness at Work. Their goal is to inspire people as well as entire organizations to bring happiness into the work place as the norm, not the exception. Their manifesto states “happiness at work is about meaningful work, healthy relationships, development and having fun. Let’s create a workplace to stimulate fun, appreciation, positive feedback, awesome challenges, trust, meaningful results and own responsibilities. Let us, as employees, employers, entrepreneurs, organizations and especially as human beings work together to make happiness at work the norm and not the exception.”
International Week of Happiness at Work is September 23 – 27 and is currently celebrated in more than 30 countries worldwide. While it’s currently not widely recognized in America, more and more companies are recognizing the benefits of building a culture that focuses on the happiness of employees. Embrace the manifesto and spirit of the week by implementing your own take on some of these fun, simple worksite initiatives:
- Intentional Acts of Kindness –Random acts of kindness go a long way, but the added benefit of happiness to both parties is much greater when the acts of kindness are intentionally thought out, verses just paying a complement or doing a small favor. Consider providing a planning sheet to all employees so they can think about who and how they want to spread the joy.
- Peer to Peer Props – Provide happiness or gratitude cards that employees can fill out and give to their peers who have sparked some joy in their week. You might also consider setting up a bulletin board or other forum in which employees can post or share this recognition publicly.
- Spruce up your Space – Add a little happiness by altering the actual workspace. Consider bringing in fresh flowers, dedicating some wall space to the artwork of your employee’s children, or pumping some feel good music in the break room.
- Provide Happy Practices – Launch an email campaign, providing one written exercise or practice each day related to cultivating mindfulness or boosting happiness.
- Promote Joyous PTO – Whether this is encouraging people to use existing PTO time, or even offering some additional hours, send the message loud and clear that you want your people to spend some time doing something that makes them happy this week. Have employees send in or post selfies of their time to share on the company intranet or newsletter.
- Daily Happy Hours – Take a literal approach to the age-old phrase by planning a fun activity for each day of the week that employees can participate in at the end of the day. Consider bringing in a live entertainer, holding a mindfulness class, or hosting some onsite friendly competition with a tournament or office Olympics.
- Leaders with Gratitude – Leaders at all levels can send a daily note of gratitude to all staff on why they are grateful to work with their teams. They might make this a numbered list, starting with #5 on Monday and ending with their # 1 reason they appreciate their team on Friday.
- Free Food Fallback Plan. Everyone loves free food – consider a local food truck or make it more interesting with an employee cook-off with a theme.
There is never a bad time to start embracing a culture that values the happiness of your employees. Whether it’s through organized activities, personal recognition or finding small ways to make your employees know they and what they do matters, just remember the goal is to make happiness at work the norm, not the exception.