Get your calendar out and start scheduling some fun – happiness will follow! March is the ideal month to build workplace happiness – winter is dragging on and for most of us, spring seems a long way off. Luckily this month is FULL of opportunities to share workplace appreciation and inspire some easy fun.Hopefully you have already downloaded our free Day-to-Day Employee Appreciation Calendar for 2019 so these celebrations may already be on your radar. If not, click the link above and let’s get started!With an acceptance rate under 7% and ACT scores of admitted students hovering around 32-35, the likelihood of most people having access to an Ivy League education in Yale’s hallowed halls are slim. But we can all benefit from the fascinating and completely practical information that is shared in one of that revered educational institution’s most popular courses, “Psychology and the Good Life.”Psychology Professor Laurie Santos specializes in evolution and animal cognition, but after living among undergrads when she became head of Yale’s Silliman College (think the Houses of Hogwarts), she realized just how stressed out and depressed they were. Reviewing mental health surveys from the National College Health Assessment she learned that the issues Yale students were having were similar to those of college students across the country. Students report already high and increasing rates of anxiety, depression and hopelessness.Santos set out to design a course to convey not just the science behind positive psychology research but how putting those concepts into practice could have a profound impact on students’ happiness and quality of life. Santos did not anticipate the the overwhelming interest in her course from students (1 in 4 students at Yale have taken her class), nor did she predict that it would become a sensation with articles in the New York Times, O Magazine, national television appearances and international media coverage.
These same principles can help employees be happier too!Lucky for us all, Santos shared the main takeaways from her course in a Aspen Ideas Festival lecture last June and that lecture is available as a iTunes podcast from the Aspen Institute as well transcribed text as a pdf).We highly recommend setting aside time to take in her 60 minute lecture. It is time well spent. In fact, you might want to listen (or watch) with colleagues, friends or family members. Don’t be intimidated by Santos’ prestigious academic pedigree. She presents the science in an accessible way, lays out her points in a manner that is easy to digest and offers practical strategies that you can then translate into your workplace efforts. Santos suggests that we all combat stress, depression and anxiety and be more proactive in our pursuit of happiness:“…I think we need to think seriously the idea that something is something is wrong, and we need to something about it. The cool thing is that we have a way out. We have hope. The science teaches us what we need to do. We just have to do it.”
A few of the happiness building basics
- Getting enough sleep – most college and high school students report only getting 4 – 5 hours of sleep. Regardless of your age your brain and body need more sleep than that and sleep has a big impact on mood.
- Your genes don’t predict your capacity for happiness – while it may be true that you inherit some of your “glass is half full or half empty” attitude from your family, you have a capacity of about 40% to take control of your own behavior.
- Get 30 minutes of cardio a day – even just a half hour of mild cardio every day can have the impact of a Zoloft prescription if you’re depressed.
- Savor the moment – really experience things and be present in the moment.
- Connecting with others will make you happier – even if you think you prefer solitude. A study showed that Chicago commuters felt happier after talking to strangers and finding common ground, even when they thought they would rather be alone and quiet.
How the course syllabus can translate into the workplace
- Give the gift of time off (even for just an hour) – granting her students the unexpected luxury of an hour of time with instructions to do something fun, creative, interesting that wasn’t work had a profound impact, some students said that hour of time will be one of their strongest memories of their Yale experience.
- Distribute gift cards or small amounts of cash to employees with the instruction that they must give it to another person. A research study showed that the good feelings for the giver of this type of generosity were long lasting and that the dollar amount didn’t matter.
- Find ways to encourage employees to learn how-to and to practice meditation – consider bringing in a teacher to educate staff on the basics of mindfulness and/or provide guided meditation classes as part of your fitness program.
Writing can help
Santos shares these things you can do at both home and work that can increase happiness:
- Write a gratitude list
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Write thank you notes
Do the workSantos likens the practices she outlines in the course to exercise. Simply learning about the effects of squats on your muscles doesn’t mean you will see increased strength in your legs and core – you need to get into the gym and do some squats. She sums it up this way:“You can hear all these studies and you can get an A in this class, but unless you put this stuff into practice, it’s not gonna help. You have to do the work.”
Learn like a Yalie, for freeIf you want a more immersive experience than the podcast or video, you can also take a free online version of the class through Coursera. The Science of Well Being from Dr. Santos is one of Coursera’s most popular courses with more than 135,000 students from 168 countries across the globe participating in this scaled-down version of her Yale course.Can’t commit to the class but could benefit from an overview? A writer at The Cut took the course and shared this cheat sheet to happiness.
Happiness…a growing field of academic studyYale isn’t the only academic institution that is taking a serious look at happiness. UC Berkeley was the first to offer a massive open online course (MOOC) on positive psychology. The Science of Happiness course teaches science-based principles and practices for a happy, meaningful life. Stanford is home to The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE). Their must-read list on compassion and happiness is a wonderful resource on this topic.
We can help you put the science into tangible workplace initiativesgThankYou has incorporated positive psychology research into content like Transform Your Workplace with Gratitude, our guide to gratitude at work, and blog posts. We’ve taken the time to translate the science into practical best practices that can directly help employees be happier.Don’t delay. Download your free copy and share with colleagues.
Happy New Year!
The celebration-filled holiday season is over, party streamers down, gifts shared and game prizes won. Now what? How will you sustain that workplace spirit and employee happiness into the new year?
If increasing employee happiness is one of your workplace goals this year, you’re not alone.
Organizations big and small are re-evaluating their strategies as Gallup continues to report low employee engagement across industries. Gallup data shows Millennial workers in particular aren’t responding to traditional engagement.
We know workplace celebrations are a reliable way to engage and motivate employees. A celebration honors excellence, fuels innovation and strengthens teamwork. It gives everyone a chance to fully appreciate individual and team successes.
But celebrating employees goes well beyond parties and prizes. Sustaining everyday employee happiness, 365 days a year, takes a comprehensive approach and a cultural shift.
That’s why we here at gThankYou created a “Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar.” It’s a guide to each month, with practical tips for everyday engagement and appreciation, as well as seasonal and holiday-specific employee recognition ideas and inspiration.
Read on for a peek at what each month of the calendar offers and how it can help you build a sustainable culture of appreciation.
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?
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.
World Smile Day, held this year on Friday, Oct. 3, is an easy and fun opportunity to celebrate workplace happiness and learn more about the everyday power of smiling.
WORKPLACE HAPPINESS BEGINS WITH A SMILE
World Smile Day has its origins in 1963 when commercial artist Harvey Ball created the smiley face to boost employee morale at an insurance agency in Worcester, Mass.
Ball’s happy yellow “smiley” has since become an iconic symbol of happiness and goodwill around the world. Ball thought everyone should devote one day each year to smiles and kind acts, and – in 1999 – declared the first Friday in October World Smile Day.
“The smiley face knows no politics, no geography and no religion. Harvey’s idea was that for at least one day each year, neither should we,” explains the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation, founded after Ball’s death in 2001.
Employee happiness is becoming a hot topic among CEOs and in boardrooms, notes Rob Markey in a Harvard Business Review blog post, “Transform Your Employees into Passionate Advocates.”
“[It’s] one more sign of the growing recognition that happy, engaged employees are more productive and generate better outcomes for their companies,” he writes.
But, he adds, only a few of the things that make employees happy result in real, sustained benefit for their companies. As Gretchen Spreitzer and Christine Porath note in one of a series of HBR articles on employee happiness, “It’s not about contentment, which connotes a degree of complacency.”
Timely, Meaningful Recognition
Markey and his colleagues have studied the links between employee engagement and customer loyalty for a few years, and have found that the only route to happy employees, that also benefits shareholders, is through a sense of fulfillment resulting from an important job done well.
It’s about recognizing employees in a timely, meaningful way. Employees should be able to connect the recognition—whether it’s a personal note, a small gift, or both—with their hard work on the company’s behalf.
The Happiness/Productivity LinkSeveral other organizations weigh in on workers’ mindsets. A Businessweek article by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, “Employee Happiness Matters More Than You Think,” says, “Ultimately … the source of productivity is the individual knowledge workers who get things done every day. And the evidence is clear: People perform better when they’re happier.”
For 10 years Amabile and Kramer researched creativity, productivity, and the psychology of everyday work life. Their findings: “Whether we looked at entrepreneurial startups or large, established enterprises, the same holds true: People are more productive and creative when they have more positive emotions.”
“In fact, we found that, if happier on a given day, people were not only more likely to come up with a new idea or solve a complex problem that same day but also to do so the next day.”
Gallup provides statistics linking employee feelings and corporate outcomes, Amabile and Kramer note. The organization reports that disengaged employees’ lost productivity costs U.S. businesses more than $300 billion a year. Another Gallup study by researcher James Harter and others concluded that employees’ past feelings about an organization can predict sales and profits at a future point in time.
Furthermore, U.K.-based research suggests clear links between workers’ happiness and their productivity. Jamie Doward’s Observer/Guardian article, “Happy people really do work harder,” reports that a team of economists led by Andrew Oswald, a professor of economics at Warwick Business School and a leading authority on the relationship between economics and mental health, says its research has important implications for the worlds of politics and business.
“We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity,” the team says. “Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings, while negative emotions have the opposite effect.”
The Warwick economists note: “Happier workers … were 12% more productive. Unhappier workers were 10% less productive.”
Employee Gratitude Done Right
If you show employees they’re valued, they’re more likely to be happy and have positive feelings about your company and their jobs. Here are three tips for effective employee recognition:
- Let line managers lead—Immediate supervisors are best equipped to observe when an employee thank you is warranted, or to review the results of performance metrics and recognize top performers.
- Keep it simple—Managers shouldn’t have to wade through complicated reports to determine who their top performers are.
- Customer feedback—What’s more powerful than hearing a customer’s thank you?
As Markey’s HBR article says, “When frontline employees and managers hear directly from customers — when they see how customers scored their experience, when they hear what went right and wrong in the customer’s own words — the effect is dramatic. Applause in the form of positive feedback inspires them to keep up the good work.
Loyal, passionate employees bring a company as much benefit as loyal, passionate customers. They stay longer, work harder, work more creatively, and find ways to go the extra mile,” he continues. “They bring you more great employees. And that spreads even more happiness — happiness for employees, for customers, and for shareholders.”
How do you ensure your employees receive timely, meaningful recognition? How do you keep workers feeling fulfilled?
For more on learning how to build employee engagement, happiness and a great workplace culture, download our FREE eBook, “Transform Your Workplace with Gratitude”.
Download now and start sharing your gratitude today!
About gThankYou, LLC
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