So simple, yet still quite difficult to understand by so many companies. Yes, happiness is an awfully underestimated prerequisite for doing business successfully.
There is a scientifically evidenced correlation between productivity and happiness at work, as the American Psychological Association estimates a staggering $500 billion is lost in the USA yearly due to stress in the workplace. The influence of happiness in the workplace has also been aptly addressed by Shawn Achor at his TED speech, which we highly recommend.
The office: a home away from home
Happy teams need a happy office, so make your workplace likeable. Since people spend a substantial proportion of their day in the office nowadays, it makes much sense for every company to make their workers feel at home.
Yes, how your office looks may have serious implications for how they perform and perceive their duties. This is science: according to a recent survey by the American Society of Interior Designers, the decor is one of the top factors influencing people’s productivity and willingness to accept or leave jobs.
It does not take much to make first steps towards a happier workplace. For some teams, it’s enough if you change this awful coffee you normally order to the office. As long as it’s your employees who choose the new one. If it’s someone’s birthday today, a personalized coffee mug will be remembered and rewarded with a smile.
Those are the small steps. What about some bigger ones? Something to bring the team together and have fun? Maybe a foosball table you could play tournaments by? Or a relaxation room with chillout music in the background… or staff trips with solving mysteries and collecting clues.
But creating favourable workspaces takes a little more than comfortable, colourful sofas, relaxed dress code and a canteen with fancy cocktails. Yes, these things may be important, but it is all about the mindset. You have to start building your working space from the essential foundations: honesty, respect, openness and trust. Then take a step further and empower people to shape it and have an influence on. Let your employees, like family members, express their opinions freely. This may take time, but will certainly pay off.
We can see the benefits ourselves.
We are family
Trust yields results and people want to prove they’re worth the trust. At Briisk, we know the benefits of a family atmosphere full well. Nobody is left alone with their needs and problems. Support is something that applies not only to our clients but also to team members. For example, we hold monthly review meetings where the CTO sits down with every developer and sounds out their individual needs. By implementing the changes, we make sure everyone knows they are listened to, that their voice matters. We want all our staff to know they constitute an important part of the company.
Bottom line: make your team members feel you are not their enemy. Take some time every month to listen to their opinions, identify obstacles and areas for improvement.
Show your team some love
Creative jobs such as software development, graphics design, need more loving care and friendly environment. Remember to consistently (and immediately) recognize exceptional work, reward great teamwork and leadership.
As Jeff Lawson, Twilio’s CEO stated in his presentation for Web Summit 2016:
But do not expect good performance if your developers do not feel valued for what they do. Nothing boosts self-esteem more than a bit of genuine gratitude, a friendly pat on the arm and some credit whenever deserved.
Sow happiness, reap business benefits
Happier employees also make better leaders. Happiness is believed to be the “ultimate productivity booster.” Happy staff are more willing to demonstrate the precious “can-do” mentality, make bolder decisions and be better at managing their workload. It also helps to acquire crucial leadership skills.
Research clearly shows that happiness in the workplace, although indirectly, also helps to reduce staff turnover, accidents and absenteeism. This is the small things that influence how employees perceive their workplace, and the perception has a profound impact on job performance and satisfaction.
I know what you’re thinking: the workplace is not supposed to be all roses all the way. People are there to do their job, after all. And a job is not supposed to be the thing people like and some stress comes with the territory, right?
Well, doesn’t it strike you that even the giants like Richard Branson, with all their acumen, support the idea of promoting happiness in the workplace? If that doesn’t convince you enough, there is massive evidence to support the relationship between happiness and productivity. Research papers like the one published in 2014 by the Warwick University not only acknowledge the existence of the link but also provide consistent statistical data.
We see the tangible benefits of the “culture of happiness” ourselves. What we try to do at Briisk is to treat each other in the way we approach our clients. And how we handle our clients obviously influences how the clients perceive us.
In a nutshell: Happiness and trust is like karma. One way or the other, it will come back to you sometime.
To make sure your company is perceived as friendly and one that fosters creativity, the list of good practices prepared by Harvard Business Review is a good place to start:
- Show care and interest in others. Treat your colleagues as friends.
- Support one another. Kindness and compassion will be rewarded.
- Don’t blame others. Learn to forgive mistakes.
- Inspire one another at work.
- Emphasize the meaningfulness of the work others do.
- Empower your workers.
- Treat others with due respect, gratitude and trust.
Have a bug-proof coding season and many happy developers behind it!