In last week’s blog, I spoke about what happiness in the workplace is, and why leaders have an ethical obligation to focus on creating well-being (the scientific word for happiness) for their stakeholders.

In the past few years, leaders have realised that the traditional business model is outdated and in need of a drastic overhaul. The main focus of a business can no longer be on making a profit, although many businesses are unfortunately stuck in this thought pattern. Society has evolved, and two critical things have transpired: the focus on the environment, and on how happy people are at their jobs.

Until now, businesses measured their success on how profitable they are, and the amount of dividends they pay their shareholders. Only after that is there any consideration given to how satisfied their people are with their work. That equation is in dire need of an overhaul, and should be reversed.

First, we need to care about people’s well-being, because when they’re happy, satisfied, and motivated, they’ll perform well. This in turn will drive profits and shareholder dividends. Happy people share information, communicate more, collaborate, make more thought-through decisions, and spread positive energy. Happiness in the workplace isn’t a strategy you focus on when you have the time; it’s something you need to start introducing in small steps as part of your culture. Start today with one small step.

Practical happiness tips

Changing organisational culture isn’t easy. It takes conscientious time, patience, effort, and repetition. It’s like any habit you’re instilling. You have to unwire your brain from an old habit, and rewire it with a new one. In organisations, change is even slower as there are many people involved, and not everybody will be as receptive to the change as you’d like them to be. It involves regular conversations that explain the reason for the change as well as the benefit. Then there’s the discipline required to behave differently.

Here are some tips on kickstarting a happiness culture in your organisation.

  1. We often dive into meetings by quickly saying hello, recapping previous action items, and moving straight into the discussion points. Instead, set a different tone at the start of a meeting by checking in with everyone on what went well in their week.
  2. Another way to lift the energy at the beginning of the meeting is to ask people to acknowledge colleagues who have made a difference in their work tasks.
  3. From a more strategic and human development level, you need to establish how you’ll monitor your employees’ happiness levels. This means that employee happiness becomes a strategic conversation and not purely a task for the HR department. What indicators are you going to use to measure how happy your employees are, and how often are you going to do this? This process should be done often and regularly, so that you can make changes swiftly.
  4. Appoint full-time happiness ambassadors who consciously wear the hat and think about the organisation’s well-being. Trust me, it will be the most valuable investment you can make in your organisation.
  5. Re-evaluate your new employee induction process, and make sure that it’s fun, welcoming, and supportive. Assist the new employee to feel at home in your organisation by supporting them every step of the way. Appoint a buddy for three months to guide them through the processes and procedures of the organisation.
  6. Share positive memories and stories with each other as often as you can. Even if you’ve heard the feel-good story ten times, it evokes positive memories and emotions in you which touch your heart, and reminds you about what really matters.
  7. Introduce a culture of offering assistance to others before they ask for it. If we look close enough, we can see that people need our help, but we choose to look the other way. Bring in the spirit of ubuntu.

In the beginning, these new happiness practices will feel uncomfortable and even senseless, but with continuous practice, they become more comfortable and you’ll quickly see the positive benefits.

Start today by gearing your organisation for future success by making your people the most essential and pivotal aspect of your business. The rest will follow.

About the Author: Kerstin Jatho

Kerstin is the senior transformational coach and team development facilitator for 4Seeds Consulting. She is also the author of Growing Butterfly Wings, a book on applying positive psychology principles during a lengthy recovery. Her passion is to develop people-centred organisations where people thrive and achieve their potential in the workplace. You can find Kerstin on LinkedIn, Soundcloud, YouTube and Facebook.

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