Happiness at work should be everyone’s priority

It’s international happiness at work week, and today we are examining the how and why of fostering a positive culture in the workplace.

Everyone wants to be happy at work.

It seems like such a simple thing. When in the right environment, happiness comes naturally to many of us. When we feel positive ourselves, we are healthier, more productive, and more likely to inspire positivity in others. Indeed, the number of health benefits of being happy is astounding: we live longer, have lower blood pressure, are more effective at combatting stress, and have boosted immune system responses. Since we spend so much time in the workplace, having a proactive approach to fostering a positive environment at work is of paramount importance.

But positivity in individuals can be fragile, especially for those of us who suffer from mental health issues. And the formula for producing the right conditions can be deceptively difficult. The ‘chemistry’ is different for everyone. What factors shape a positive environment for each person is different, often in subtle ways. For example, some may find a chatty workplace where social interaction and collaboration is an absolute necessity extremely beneficial in keeping an energetic and impassioned workforce. For others, such a climate can be exhausting, stifling individual creativity and autonomy. The key to overcoming these problems is variety.

Every company needs an array of different personality types to function optimally. It isn’t always an easy task to get contrasting personalities to work effectively in the same environment, but it is for the benefit of everyone that we recognise what makes positive culture for all of us. For me, a good workplace consists of four components: a feeling of individual fulfilment, alignment to the values of the company, strong working relationships, and agreement with the wider meaning of the company’s service. Let’s consider each in turn

  • Individual fulfilment: having a sense of professional freedom, challenging work and an associated sense of development are all important in keeping you engaged in your work.
  • Alignment with values: does your company operate in a way you respect and resonate with? This goes a long way to keeping us motivated over the long term, particularly as there will be events in our personal lives that will affect our performance or ability to work in one way or another.
  • Working relationships: the professional and personal relationships we develop with people in the workplace have a dramatic impact on our productivity and attitude.
  • Meaning: we all want to feel like the work we do makes a positive contribution to society.

So what can we do to ensure that our workplace works for everyone? Firstly, it should be widely understood that wellbeing is a shared responsibility of both employer and the employees. The decision-makers in the company should work to make wellbeing a priority, resource it effectively, and listen to the needs of the workforce. Meanwhile, the staff should collaborate with the business to make any feedback known in a positive and constructive way and can take responsibility by volunteering their efforts to enact wellbeing initiatives.

Secondly, there should be a prevalence of recognition for success throughout the company. It is important for everyone to feel that their hard work is noticed for both motivation and development. When there is only a spotlight on problems with performance, a negative atmosphere can very quickly take hold. This is unproductive for the employees personally and for the service the company provides. Make a concerted effort to ensure that everyone understands the impact of their labour, particularly across separate collaborative elements of the business.

Finally, having a culture of growth is immensely important in motivating employees. As I have discussed in a previous blog, setting and achieving goals is a very productive and gratifying endeavour. Professional development is no different – it allows members of staff to identify and develop skills that are relevant to both the interests of the business and themselves. This behaviour should be encouraged and well resourced.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of the ingredients of a positive workplace but, in my view, they are some of the most important. And I believe that not only can everyone be happy at work, but everyone deserves the chance to be happy at work. It’s everyone’s responsibility to make that goal a reality.

Thanks for reading! Stay happy and stay safe,

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Ben Ross
Ben Ross

Director & Co-Founder at Humans of Code

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