What does workplace happiness look like?
It’s different for every company and dependent on a positive culture, engaged workforce, and involved, authentic leadership.
Happy employees share many characteristics — productivity, optimism, creativity, dedication — you can feel when a culture resonates with employee happiness.
Sadly, there’s no magic bullet for building workplace happiness. That’s why it’s helpful to look at case studies of company cultures (and even cities!) that champion authentic workplace happiness. We bet you’ll be inspired to create your own unique engagement program by studying others.
Read on for real-life examples of workplace happiness and the profound effect they have on employees. Does your culture have Arbejdsglæde?
April 7 is World Health Day. It’s a great time to mobilize your employees around a cause and remind them of the importance of workplace wellness! We commemorate World Health Day on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) founding anniversary. Each year, WHO focuses on a specific health issue with worldwide implications.
In 2016, the theme was Beat Diabetes. Did you know?
- “About 350 million people worldwide have diabetes, a number likely to more than double in the next 20 years.”
- “In 2012, diabetes was the direct cause of 1.5 million deaths. More than 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.”
- “Type 2 accounts for around 90% of all diabetes worldwide. Reports of type 2 diabetes in children have increased worldwide”
Diabetes is increasingly prevalent worldwide and harms families, businesses, and communities. Luckily, it’s preventable and treatable, and your company can help get the word out! WHO offers free materials such as free posters and useful fact sheets to help publicize the issue and even suggests ways to get involved with different audiences.
World Health Day is a perfect opportunity to re-focus supporting wellness in your workplace, partnering with local organizations and building community engagement against a common cause.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of celebrating World Health Day and how to celebrate it with your employees!
The first Friday in March is National Employee Appreciation Day, and hopefully you have big plans to show your workers how much you value each and every one of them. If you haven’t made plans, don’t worry, it’s not too late! Use some of these last-minute ideas to inspire your gratitude.
Remember that, as Forbes contributors David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom write in “4 Commonly Asked Questions About National Employee Appreciation Day,” while it’s great to celebrate the day, the most important thing is that you acknowledge it, and the meaning behind it.
“We hear from companies who throw parties, have lunches catered, and do special things for their employees on National Employee Appreciation Day. But, we also know of companies who simply acknowledge the day by communicating to their employees that the goal isn’t just to celebrate once a year but instead build a culture of appreciation.”
Employee Appreciation Day is the perfect time to reinforce your culture of recognition. Recognize employees’ efforts on Friday and remind them that you’re grateful for them year-round. It can be as simple as a thoughtful visit to share your personal thanks, a note of thanks, or something to brighten the day and make employees feel valued.
Read on for easy ideas to energize your Employee Appreciation Day in your workplace!
New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for your personal life. In fact, you can expect some serious rewards when you refresh your goals in the workplace, too! The key is to set positive, forward thinking goals.
“At the heart of most resolutions is a desire to live a happier life and enjoy more workplace success, but for some reason, resolutions focus on removing the negative things from our life rather than filling our New Year with positive things.”
You heard him! Negativity just isn’t sustainable. And honestly, how many of us have made New Year’s resolutions abandoned the effort by mid-January?
Reboot your New Year’s resolutions and turn 2016 into the year of happier work and even happier living with these 10 resolutions worth keeping!
It’s critical to recognize frontline employees—servers, cashiers, delivery people, customer service representatives—they are truly the face of your company!
Ironically, frontline employees are often a company’s lowest paid staff and are treated as expendable, yet transactions between customers and frontline employees make or break your business’s image. They can affect your future relationships with customers.
In fact, Dennis Snow, president of Snow & Associates, Inc., writes that “The frontline equals the bottom line.” Treating frontline employees well, he says, is hugely important to a company’s success!
“We should honor [frontline employees] for the work that they do because they are the ones that make the world turn. All of our strategies, visions, and corporate goals are only as good as the execution of those plans, and execution ultimately comes down to frontline people doing things.”
To improve your company culture and customer relationships, remember to treat frontline employees well and express your appreciation often!
“When they do their jobs with pride and enthusiasm, the likelihood of company success is exponentially increased. When they do their jobs with boredom and skepticism, the greatest technology systems in the world won’t help,” Snow observes.
The way company leaders treat frontline employees has a huge impact on how these employees feel about their jobs. It can be as simple as saying hello when walking by work stations, and taking time to ask how things are going or thanking employees for their hard work. Frontline employees who feel valued communicate that in their interactions to customers – it’s easy to tell when people love what they do!
World Gratitude Day is today, Monday, September 21! It’s the perfect occasion to commit to a gratitude at work campaign and start a revolution of appreciation in your workplace.
How World Gratitude Day Began
According to “World Gratitude Day Quick Facts,” the first celebration was held in Hawaii in 1965. An international gathering of the United Nations Mediation Group decided to designate one day each year to formally express gratitude for the great things individuals and groups offer. The celebration has ignited, internationally growing ever since.
The Science Behind Gratitude
Gratitude is not just a “feel good” emotion in the workplace, as Charles D. Kerns, professor of applied behavioral science at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management, writes in “Gratitude at Work.” It has many workplace benefits.
”When an employee believes his or her superiors are grateful for his or her work, the employee will benefit by having an improved sense of worth to the organization. This improved sense of worth can lead to performance improvement, thereby benefiting the organization.”
Research shows gratitude in the workplace improves employee satisfaction, happiness, engagement, productivity and health. A happier more productive workforce protects and improves your bottom line.
Believe it or not, the person expressing gratitude also receives similar benefits as the receiver. Gratitude is contagious and if supported can influence your entire workplace.
The founders of World Gratitude Day hope that taking a day each year to feel grateful will positively affect our well-being and make us happier. While World Gratitude Day is a reminder to express our appreciation, demonstrating gratitude needs to be more than a one-day occurrence if you want to build a culture of appreciation. Leading gratitude researcher Robert Emmons reminds us of the transformative power of gratitude:
“Gratitude enriches human life. It elevates, energizes, inspires and transforms. People are moved, opened and humbled through expressions of gratitude.”
Building a culture of workplace gratitude could be the best thing you ever do for your business. In fact, author and speaker Toni Powell calls gratitude at work the key to success in “Why Gratitude in the Workplace?”
In her TEDx Talk, “A Love Story,” she says her husband used gratitude to transform her life. By appreciating the things she did, he taught her to think positively about herself and to look for good in the world rather than complaining and criticizing. Her husband was grateful for the smallest things which overtime changed her negative thinking.
That’s all it took. You can do the same thing and instill workplace gratitude. And Powell says:
“Gratitude has the rather extraordinary power to change just about every aspect of life—in very surprising ways.”
When you practice workplace gratitude you transform relationships, minimize complaints, and see satisfaction levels skyrocket. The effect is profound and long-lasting, Powell says, because gratitude rewires the brain to see and process the world differently. It works like this, she explains. Gratitude:
- Increases resilience
- Reduces stress
- Facilitates positive relationships
- Makes people happier
And happy people work harder!
In his TED Talk, “The Happy Secret to Better Work,“ former Harvard professor Shawn Achor says happiness improves every aspect of business.
“Happy brains are 31% more productive than negative, stressed or neutral brains, and dopamine—released when we’re happy—turns on the brain’s learning centers.”
You and your employees can train your brains to look for positivity and happiness by, among other things, writing down three things you’re grateful for everyday for 30 days.
Motivating your team couldn’t be simpler — just thank your employees for their efforts and they’ll feel more valued. When employees know you’re grateful for their efforts, they work harder and productivity improves. It’s really remarkably easy.
Say thank you and employees work harder
Just consider the results of this recent Glassdoor survey. As Huffington Post writer Chad Brooks discovered in “Appreciation Motivates Employees To Work Harder, Study Says,” the study shows:
- Over 80% of employees work harder when their boss shows appreciation
- Over 60% of employees lose motivation when their boss is demanding or they fear losing their job
- Over 50% confirmed a willingness to stay at their job if a boss exhibited appreciation
- 46% of respondents feel appreciated when their boss offers an unexpected treat like snacks, meals, or Thank You notes
- 24% report interest in company-sponsored social events such as a holiday party!
Remember to say Thank You for employees’ successful everyday tasks, not just showy big wins. In “10 Things Employees Really Need to Hear From You,” former CEO and Inc.com contributing editor Geoffrey James reminds us that the little things count much more than we think they do!
Why start an employee thank you program? According to MIT’s human resources article, “Best Practices for Designing and Maintaining a Program,” it’s:
“ … to recognize and reward work and behaviors that support/further the mission, goals, values and initiatives of the [organization].”
And, as research shows, workplace morale, engagement, and productivity improve when you show appreciation for your employees’ work!
Here are some key steps toward an effective employee thank you program.
Yesterday was “Get to Know Your Customer Day,” which is an excellent time to give customer loyalty gifts — but don’t worry if you missed it! The best time to give a customer loyalty gift is whenever appreciation strikes.
Expressing gratitude bonds you to customers, which is essential to understanding their needs and their point of view! When you build relationships with customers, you also build loyalty, which helps your business prosper. As an added bonus:
“When you [understand] your customers, it opens marketing opportunities. Loyal customers, invariably, will advertise your products for you.”
Read more on how to serve, appreciate, and retain your customers with customer loyalty gifts!
Workplace wellness programs lead to healthier, happier, more engaged and more productive employees. And that’s good for your business.
Summer is just the time to jumpstart your workplace wellness programs, since the season’s bounty provides plenty of opportunities to spark your employees’ enthusiasm. Companies nationwide are kicking off summer wellness programs, including Dean Health Plan, which last month launched its “Summer of Wellness” program.
During the program’s first week, Dean held activities including a healthy grilling demonstration, daily wellness walks, and an orientation for its Couch-to-5K training program. All were part of a community-wide Worksite Wellness Week in the Madison, Wis. region. Businesses and organizations across the region participated, led by the area’s Madison Region Economic Partnership.
There are plenty of ways you can foster workplace wellness this summer, and the Greatist health and fitness team lists examples in “The 44 Healthiest Companies to Work For in America”. Read on to see some of our favorites!
Peer-to-peer recognition empowers employees to share appreciation and builds your company culture of gratitude!
An increasing numbers of modern workers are motivated, at least in part, by peer recognition, according to YouEarnedIt and to research presented by Richard Florida in his book “The Rise of the Creative Class.”
Earning the respect of peers is a major driver of motivation among workers today, Florida found.
Recognition from management is critical, of course. But peer-to-peer recognition harnesses the intimate knowledge coworkers have with our work day-to-day.
Peer-to-peer recognition needs institutional support to flourish, however. Unless your company provides the framework for recognition — and management models it — employees are less likely to share their appreciation for coworkers.
Read on for five examples of companies who’ve found effective, easy ways to spread peer-to-peer recognition. You’ll find inspiration to empower your workplace!
Employee recognition boosts workplace engagement, productivity and—ultimately—your bottom line. But if you want employee recognition to be memorable, surprise your staff!
Joris Luijke, Squarespace’s “VP of People,” wants employees’ Squarespace experience to build lasting, positive memories.
In his article, “HR folks – Try this surprising way to make people remember your hard work,” he names two key elements to this goal:
- Employees must experience an environment where they are able to do their best work.
- Employees need to remember that great experience.
According to Luijke, we quickly forget great moments, whether they occurred at a company holiday party or during a positive project experience.
So how are we supposed to build lasting memories? With a surprise, of course!
On-the-spot recognition gets instant results. When you recognize employees right away, the benefits start right away!
“A year-end cash bonus doesn’t give an immediate sense of gratification for a job done today, and it may not address what’s on an employee’s mind today,” writes Eric Mosley writes in Forbes article, “Incentives vs. Recognition: How Do You Get Your Employees Engaged Again?”
The once-a-year recognition party is good for show, but ultimately it doesn’t affect day-to-day performance and is a weak employee motivator in the long run.
“Recognizing [an employee] with a thank you, a gift card of his choosing or even a personal day off can take you very far. Such on-the-spot recognition, done year-round, inspires ongoing motivation and high performance,” Mosley writes.
It’s time to make recognition an ongoing, everyday activity. Read on to find out why on-the-spot recognition is so effective — and much easier to carry out than you think!
What does workplace gratitude in action look like?
Beyond the data, the research studies and advice from experts, what are companies actually doing right now to successfully show appreciation and build gratitude among employees?
We regularly scout out and highlight the best current examples of forward-thinking or compassionate workplace gratitude (see previous posts here and here).
This time around we discovered more mini-case studies of employers building gratitude, whether they’re doing it with a special one-off celebration or through years of dedication to build a vibrant workplace culture.
5 Mini-Case Studies of Workplace Gratitude
If your company’s employee appreciation program is feeling stale, read on for inspiration and ideas to rejuvenate it!
International Day of Happiness is March 20. It’s a fantastic opportunity to celebrate your employees and coworkers and spread happiness in your workplace.
The history of International Day of Happiness goes back just a few years, originating in a United Nations resolution adopted in 2011 that recognizes happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and calls for a “more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples.”
In 2012, the UN created the holiday — to be held every year on March 20 — at a conference called “Happiness and Well-being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm.” The first official International Day of Happiness took place the following year.
Now, celebrations are coordinated by Action for Happiness, a non-profit movement of people from 160 countries, supported by a partnership of like-minded organizations that includes The Huffington Post, Just Giving, Project Happiness, Mental Health Foundation, Columbia University and GNH Centre Bhutan.
It’s no secret that it’s essential to engage workers if you want optimum company performance. And who doesn’t? In the next few weeks we’ll look at ways to engage workers across a variety of businesses. Here’s a closer look at how to engage manufacturing workers.
The power of workplace engagement
First, some overall information about employee engagement. Alison M. Konrad, a professor of organizational behavior and the Corus Entertainment Chair in Women in Management at Ivey Business School addresses engaging workers in “Engaging Employees Through High-involvement Work Practices”:
“Employee engagement can be critically important to competitiveness in the contemporary business environment. The Gallup Organization, which studied employee engagement in 7,939 business units in 36 companies, found that employee engagement was positively associated with performance in a variety of areas, including increased customer satisfaction, profitability and productivity, and reduced employee turnover.”
Recent research suggests that high-involvement work practices can develop the positive beliefs and attitudes associated with employee engagement, and that these practices can generate the kinds of discretionary behaviors that lead to enhanced performance. Simply put, employees who conceive, design and implement workplace and process changes are engaged employees.”
Employee engagement has three related components, she writes:
- Cognitive—employees’ beliefs about the organization, its leaders, and working conditions
- Emotional—how employees feel about each of those three factors and whether they have positive or negative attitudes toward the organization and its leaders
- Behavioral—the discretionary effort engaged employees bring to their work in the form of extra time, brainpower and energy devoted to the task and the firm
She cites organizational effectiveness scholar Edward Lawler and his colleagues, who have identified four interlocking principles for building a high-involvement work system. Managers should provide employees with:
- Power—to make workplace decisions
- Knowledge—through training to build their skills and enable them to implement decisions effectively
- Information—about how their actions affect business unit performance
- Rewards—for their efforts to improve performance
It’s cold, it’s cloudy and the sparkle of the holidays is long gone. How can you help your employees beat the winter workplace blahs?
Up to 20 percent of Americans suffer from mild symptoms associated with the winter blues, according to Duke Today writer April Dudash. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a more intense version of depression that occurs during the winter months. About 11 million Americans suffer from SAD.
Even a mild case of the “blahs” can wreck havoc in a workplace. Employees drag in late feeling glum, disengaged and low on energy.
Emotions are contagious (and can even be passed on via smell!), so one person’s winter blahs can quickly become everyone’s blahs. When that happens, productivity, customer relations and employee health suffer.
Self-care is especially important for company leaders during this time, since their behavior, mood and energy levels set the tone for the organization as a whole.
Escape is our natural impulse when the blahs hit — maybe to a daydream about a tropical beach! — but in fact, engaging with our emotions, our work and each other is the better way to keep the blahs at bay. Engaging keeps a workplace resilient!
Help your organization be resilient to the winter workplace blahs by incorporating the following ideas into your employee wellness program.
7 Ideas For Surviving The Winter Workplace Blahs
When was the last time you complimented someone at work or received a workplace compliment? (A real compliment: a piece of thoughtful, specific praise, not a simple “thanks” or “good job.”)
If it’s been a while, you’re not alone. Giving memorable compliments is a skill.
It also requires slowing down long enough to reflect on why you value someone else. With time at a premium and “busy-ness” the norm these days, compliments often get forgotten or neglected.
Now’s your chance to change that, and even if you’re already an awesome compliment-giver, to spread the joy of compliments even more!
National Compliment Day is Jan. 24. What better time to improve your praise-giving skills? Read on to find out why compliments matter so much and how you can make them better.
The Power of Workplace Compliments
Random acts of kindness shouldn’t need a reason, explanation or holiday, but in today’s fast-paced workplace, we could all use a reminder to be kinder.
We get that little nudge to be kinder with World Kindness Day, held annually on Nov. 13.
World Kindness Day evolved from a series of conferences in the 1990s in Japan by a group that grew to be known internationally as the World Kindness Movement. Since then, the group has gone global and is working to promote kindness from Italy to South Korea.
The World Kindness Movement partners with the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation to spread and promote kindness, gratitude, and joy wherever and whenever it can.
This year, in honor of World Kindness Day, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has some fun ideas for how to celebrate.
Read on to find out how to make your workplace “party central” on World Kindness Day.