Make your employees happy at work

Rinke Huisman

“Happiness at work is profitable. Of course for yourself, because when you are happier, you are healthier, cheerful, social, and successful. But it is good for organisations too, as happy employees tend to be more involved, productive, cooperative, creative, and innovative. They are ill less frequently and their chances at a burn out are lower.” This is according to Maartje Wolff and Fennande van der Meulen, who founded Happy Office in 2015. They started the first Week of work happiness in 2018 and the 4th edition takes place this year, and they want to shed light on this important topic once more.

 

During the fourth quarter of 2020, the national sick leave among employees was around 4,9 percent, which means that 49 of the 1000 work days were left absent due to illness. This was the highest percentage since 2002 (5,4 percent). Not all reasons for absence are directly related to happiness at work, but the well-known burn-out (stress due to overburdening) and the lesser-known bore-out (stress due to boredom), definitely are. Time to give some well-deserved extra attention to happiness within the organisation!

 

Trying to define happiness at work

What does happiness at work mean for you? This was a question for a poll last summer. The literal question was: “We can categorise work into three parts; as a job, as part of a career, or as a calling. What applies to you? 1,468 votes were cast, half of which went to ‘a calling,’ a third went to ‘a job,’ and a fifth of the voters chose for the career option. The definition of these three terms is of course different for every individual. It does not mean that everyone that chose ‘a job’ is less content with their jobs than any other person, but the interesting part is what such a question makes you think about. A lot of the comments asked for a fourth or fifth option: a sense of purpose and to earn a living. 

 

That is how happiness at work can mean something different for everyone as well. How do we define it? Working a job that suits you and you love going to every day. That is how you get better at that job, and what eventually makes you happier.

 

 “Happiness at work means profit. Happy employees are healthier, more involved, work better together, and are more productive. That is why you should invest in the vitality and development of your employees. Everyone is happy.”

 

Happy employees in 4 steps

Happiness at work is tied to 4 aspects that can be given attention to within your organisation:

  • Purpose: being able to contribute something, the feeling of being needed. It is important that the purpose of your organisation is aligned with the purpose of each individual employee, which is why good communication is vital.  
  • People: contact with colleagues, your supervisor, the informal work climate, being appreciated. Create connections by creating a safe culture in which vulnerability, being open, and honesty are valued. Set the right example, and an important note: express your genuine gratitude. Give your colleague a compliment today, because we often forget to appreciate each other for the work that they do!
  • Progress: achieving progress, setting goals, developing yourself, autonomy, and responsibility. It is about finding the ultimate balance between challenges and your (growing) capacities: make results visible and celebrate the big and small achievements. 
  • Positivity: positivity and a (healthy dose of) enjoyment at work create a better atmosphere, more creativity, and more happiness at work. Positivity in the workplace is an important reason to work and stimulates the learning curve. Do something spontaneous at work sometimes. The annual Christmas gathering is much less exciting than the unexpected Easter egg hunt at the office.  


But beware: make sure that it will not be too superficial! Happiness at work is not about ball pits and bouncy castles. 

 

There are lots of initiatives that can contribute to the awareness and enhancement of happiness at work. These are a few of them: vitality challenges, a wall of happiness, open space afternoons about work happiness, a personality poker night, inspiring workshops or readings, mapping the employee journey, appointing a CFO (Chief Fun Officer), or recruiting ambassadors of work happiness.

 

Do it together

Important advice would be to do it all together: take it seriously, but not too literally. Of course not everyone will be happy at work every single minute of the day. It is about creating awareness, being able to talk about it with your colleagues, and asking for help whenever you need it. But it is also about removing unnecessary rules, power, and complicated processes and procedures, work absences, unmotivated colleagues, and bad managers, according to Happy Office.

 

Hubper en werkgeluk

We believe that organisations grow along with their employees. And hey, every organisation’s goal is to grow, right? That is why we find it important to invest in the team behind the organisation. 

 

  • Daily lunches with everyone (paid for by Hubper) to fully disconnect from the work for a moment. 
  • Freedom to change work hours to fit the flexible lifestyles of our colleagues.
  • Working together to achieve your goals, personally and professionally via Truqu.
  • Do you have new ideas? We encourage them. We love to learn new things, also from our colleagues. Give each other space to develop new ideas. 
  • Does someone not feel at home anymore? We can find a solution together, maybe there is another role that you can fill within our organisation?


Toolbox for happiness

The aim should be that working together to achieve work happiness is not something special, but rather self-evident. You can find even more ideas on the Week of work happiness website, which includes a Toolbox and the Work Happiness Manifest that you can sign with your organisation. This year, the Week of work happiness will take place from 20 until 26 September, and there are lots of interesting (online) activities.