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4 ways to improve workplace culture and boost happiness

Published by: LifeWorks,

The concept of employee engagement is always being discussed. It’s obviously a very important matter to consider when you’re looking at your workplace culture. But just because your employees are engaged doesn’t mean they’re happy.

If they are happy, not only are they more productive, they also won’t leave. As such, employers are starting to focus their workplace culture on their people, specifically their levels of satisfaction.

However, there’s a disconnect between the emphasis employers and employees put on employee happiness. We teamed up with HR.com to look at how to erase that disconnect.

Our research found that 41 percent of employees are willing to leave their jobs, in part, because their employer doesn’t prioritise their happiness. This shows they don’t like how most employers (about two-fifths) put performance before happiness. Unfortunately, only 24 percent of employers say they put happiness first.

Employees want their company to help them with their happiness, and that starts with workplace culture.

Here’s how you can build a happiness-centric workplace culture:

Follow passions

People want to come to work every day feeling passionate about their tasks and responsibilities. The more passionate people are, the better engaged they become, and most importantly, the happier they are in the workplace.

To add some passion into your workplace culture, rally your team around passion projects. Every quarter, hold a vote on a few fun projects the company can team up on.

For example, volunteer at local charity events, host a fundraiser for a cause the entire workforce supports, or plant a company garden. These projects should align with common interests among your staff.

Express gratitude

Gratitude is more than just a trending concept — it’s an important exercise your employees should do regularly. The benefits are truly staggering.

In fact, a 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that athletes with high levels of gratitude had higher self-esteem. This directly impacts work performance — the more employees believe in themselves, the more productive and happier they will be. This will even improve their overall quality of life.

Host morning huddles and encourage employees to share what they’re grateful for. When you encourage everyone to share with one another, you’re including the whole workplace culture in a valuable exercise.

Give employees the option to express their gratitude regularly. Install a ‘gratitude wall’ where employees can post anonymous messages of thankfulness with sticky notes and dry erase markers. This should be in a high traffic common area so employees engage with it on a regular basis.

Also, create a social network as part of a peer-to-peer recognition programme. Employees can give shout-outs to each other every day and express how much they appreciate their team.

Create fun

Nobody should feel like they have to grind through emails and crunch numbers for eight hours straight, every single day. Fun yields happiness, but unfortunately, a lot of employers forget this.

Appoint a fun committee to plan events and infuse the day-to-day with a bit of fun. Employees from all levels of the organisation should join and get involved. Otherwise, mandatory ‘fun’ coming from management feels inauthentic and forced.

To get employees engaged in offering ideas, start a ‘fun bucket.’ Encourage your staff to write ideas and place them in the bucket. Then, the committee can review each idea and make them a reality.

Encourage autonomy

When your staff can solve problems and accomplish tasks independently, they’re far more likely to be happy at work. People feel a strong sense of ownership and pride when they are able to accomplish their objectives on their own terms.

That extends to allowing employees to challenge themselves outside their role. Encourage a sense of ownership by giving employees the opportunity to lead projects. No matter their level of seniority, help each employee develop a project they can lead outside of their typical responsibilities.

When you focus your workplace culture on people instead of just performance and profits, you’re more likely to retain top talent. Happy employees are also far more productive.

Therefore, when you invest in their happiness, you’re pushing your entire workforce to be their best. That’s when your organisation truly thrives.

Make your employees feel loved