Being happy at work is more than simply enjoying your job. It’s feeling good in yourself, managing stress well and feeling both mentally and physically able to do what’s expected of you.
So, how happy are we at work in the UK? According to Indeed’s Work Happiness Score study, one-third of workers report being unhappy at work, so it’s clear employers need to do more for their employees. At Happiful, our mission is to help create a happier, healthier and more sustainable society, and of course, we apply that to our employees. Here are some of the stand-out actions we’ve noticed that help teams feel happy at work:
Listen to your employees
A simple point to start with, but perhaps the most integral. How often do you listen to your team and action the feedback? Below are twelve different suggestions we use within our organisation that will help your employees feel heard and ultimately improve the happiness of your workforce.
1. Taking anonymous suggestions monthly
Every month send out an anonymous form asking for suggestions on what the organisation can do to help staff feel happier and healthier. The suggestions may range from big ideas like making lunch-times more flexible, to small ideas like more healthy snack options in the office.
The key to the success of this initiative is to respond to every suggestion. You can’t say yes to everything of course, but you can acknowledge suggestions, take the feedback on board and ensure your team feels heard.
2. Regular surveys
Track happiness levels through regular surveys and get more in-depth feedback as to how people are feeling about working with you. If this isn’t already part of your routine, consider introducing a regular survey, just be sure to take on and address feedback to make it worthwhile.
3. Monthly one-to-ones
Regular one-to-ones with line managers are a great way to get to know your team. This is an opportunity for managers to dig deeper into how individual members are doing, flag any concerns and find out how they’re feeling in their role.
4. Lead by example
Practising what you preach is essential. One way to encourage this is by supporting directors and managers to lead by example. Showing their vulnerability, joining in on personal development training, and role modelling boundaries goes a long way.
5. Showing vulnerability
For example, the co-founders of Happiful shared their story behind creating Happiful by going on podcasts to talk about their journey. Many managers have been inspired by this, being honest when they’re feeling a little frazzled and asking for support from their team when they need it.
Vulnerability helps people to see what it means to be human at work. We’re not infallible, and we all have our difficult days. When managers can lead the way here, employees feel safer to be honest themselves.
6. Joining in on personal development training
Encourage managers and directors to join in on quarterly training as an optional form of personal development. To lead by example will help teams see the importance of the topics being covered.
It can be hard for managers and directors to find the time for things like this, but it can make a world of difference.
7. Role modelling boundaries
Boundaries between work and life became blurred for many of us following the pandemic and now we work in a hybrid environment, so it is important to keep an eye on this . A way managers and directors can help here is by role modelling boundaries. Not staying online after hours, not sending emails out of hours, and mentioning when they need a break for fresh air.
Again, all of this helps employees feel more confident in holding their boundaries, safe in the knowledge that this is expected and showcased by managers.
8. Share resources
Companies will often have a range of interests and talents that it only makes sense to pool and share these resources. One way Happiful have achieved this is via the marketing department, in which we instigated ‘share and learn’ days, hosting sessions on different skills so we could all learn more.
Another idea is to send a monthly email which shares articles, videos, and ideas centring around certain topics. This is an opportunity to share resources on topics such as confidence at work, managing stress, and navigating relationships.
It can be easy for work to feel isolating when you’re not all together in the office every day, so sharing resources like this is a great way to build community. And yes, those resources can also be what you’ve watched on TV at the weekend – which brings me nicely onto my next point.
9. Encourage non-work related discussion
If the only conversations at work revolve around work, it can be easy for humanity to get lost. To help avoid this, instigate a weekly prompt via your organisations communication platform to ask people what they did/read/watched at the weekend. A simple idea, but one that encourages your employees to get chatting.
It’s so important for us to see each other as whole people, with lives, interests, and hobbies outside of work, and this can be a simple way to do this. You could also try regular coffee morning chats, giving employees some space to chat about non-work related topics.
10. Be flexible
Embracing more flexibility in the workplace is likely to go down very well with your team. For example, employers could introduce flexi-time available for those who need to pick up kids, run errands or simply want to enjoy a lie-in. This also means employees can take longer lunches, which can be especially helpful over winter when getting outside in the daylight is tough.
Encourage employees to apply for flexible working if they need it. As an example, I work full-time hours compressed into four days to make space for volunteer work and general self-care.
11. Recognise your employees
Another simple idea you’ve no doubt heard before, but what’s the best way to do this? The honest answer to this is that it will differ from company to company and may take some trial and error. We’ve tried different initiatives over the years, but our current one is a hit.
Every month employees send over ‘recognitions’ to our office and culture manager. These are small notes of appreciation for colleagues that then get collated into one email sent out on a Friday. We then randomly generate a name from those included, and that employee gets a voucher to spend somewhere of their choosing.
Finding ways of supporting and recognising your employees in this way is a brilliant way to boost morale and help them to feel happy at work.
12. Never stop moving
Leaders should always be on the lookout for ways they can improve. No company is perfect and there’s always work to be done. Part of keeping employees happy at work is to always be trying to make them happy.
Job satisfaction is more important than ever. Many of us felt a shift following the pandemic, a call to do something meaningful and to pursue what makes us happy, and as employers, it’s important to see how you can fit into that.
Kat Nicholls is a content creator and strategist at Happiful with a keen interest in self-care and workplace wellbeing. Kat has also headed up the wellness team at Happiful, working internally to ensure they practice what they preach.