“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” That sentiment endures in fortune cookies, but otherwise flies in the face of society’s attitude toward jobs, bosses, and the hours “trapped” in the office. For too many workers in our culture, from laborers to leaders, work is not a “happy place.” Most employees enjoy Monday just about as much as Garfield the cat—that is to say, not at all.
The jokes about countdowns to Happy Hour or needing FM radio to dull the pain of work until quitting time have a sobering edge to them. They imply that work saps the life out of employees, draining their vitality and undercutting their ability to thrive. They certainly don’t imply that it’s possible, even beneficial, to be happier at work. Think of all the Pixar cartoons that feature men in gray suits laboring in gray cubicles, with life and color bursting outside the windows.
Being unhappy at work can lead to dire consequences in the long run: resignation, resentment, and even ill health. Those who deal with customers as well as colleagues can spread their negativity in both directions. That’s certainly not good for business. That’s not to imply that jobs should be free of challenge, conflict or stress. But it does mean that employers need to make an effort to create a culture where happiness can thrive; and where workers can band together to combat stressors and other threats to that well-being. One key way to accomplish this is by instructing through your own example: spearheading changes that contribute to a stronger workplace and healthier community.
This year, many employers have shifted focus to instilling a sense of fulfillment and happiness among employees—thinking of their business and their bottom line. Principles of “customer centricity” and employee engagement can merge into an approach that will increase performance, satisfaction and positivity, trickling down from the highest levels of leadership to the customer who absorbs the “good vibes” that result.
How can managers encourage employees to expend that “discretionary effort,” or go the extra mile when it’s not required? We’ve gathered a few simple but effective strategies:
• Show recognition and appreciation for a job well done. This provides much-needed validation, and boosts the chances of similar effort in the future.
• Create opportunities for collaboration, teamwork, and sharing good news. Understanding “we’re in this together” boosts camaraderie, increases social time, and instills a shared sense of purpose and achievement.
• Make a point of helping colleagues; and encourage your employees to follow suit. Research shows it creates a “virtuous cycle” that makes everyone happier.
• Take your lunch break—and urge employees to take theirs. Even 20 minutes of fresh air, unhurried eating, or a general change of perspective can refresh and recharge workers for the afternoon.
• Establish benchmarks for progress; and celebrate when your team achieves them. Break up major projects into smaller steps, each one worthy of a pat on the back.
At TYS LLP, we feel this topic down to our bones. Our “origin story” involved the quest for happiness at work, the need to escape a deflated (and deflating) industry, and the core values of collaboration, innovation, and proactive problem-solving: a recipe for happiness. Learn more about us at TYSLLP.com.