The happier your employees, the better will be the success of your company!
A Happy Workplace Environment not only does help your employees to do their best within the company, but also helps to attract good talented people to the organisation. Employees who feel happiness at work tend to be more creative, innovative as well as dedicated towards their work and company than their counterparts.
Unhappy workplaces can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, which can lead to disengaged workers. Studies show that disengaged workers have higher absenteeism, more errors and defects, and sometimes even get into more accidents at work.
Now, are you wondering if it’s really possible to create a happy work environment for your employees or team without breaking your back?
Well, even if your employees are working from the same office space every day or need to work remotely as the present situation demands – here’s my list of 21 best ways to create a happy workplace that can develop creativity, productivity, and retain your best employees for a longer duration within the company. All this with simple easy to follow measures.
1. Hire Happy Personalities
Happy employees are far more motivated, productive, creative and are great team players. Hiring these kinds of people can help you achieve a happier workplace. However, it requires some amount of thought process and preparation to identify them.
Of course, any hiring manager would start with the relevant experience, skills and past achievements while interviewing the candidate. Ignoring the personality would be a mistake as skills can be learned but trying to get a person change their personality is very difficult.
Some of the basic traits to understand a happy personality would be to check the following:
Is the candidate smiling when you meet them face to face? Does he or she feel genuinely interested in talking to you and understanding the role? Is the candidate able to make eye contact? etc.
According to Mark Murphy, author of ‘Hiring for Attitude’ – “When new hires failed, 89% of the time it was for attitudinal reasons and only 11% of the time for lack of skill.”
2. Show Gratitude
Why should anyone in your organisation thank you for doing your work? And why should you thank any of your colleagues or subordinates for doing the work that they are paid for?
These are some of the common questions that most of the employees working in an organization pose when they are asked to show gratitude.
Showing gratitude in a workplace can be the best and fastest way to spread positivity, induce growth and create a happy workplace. Showing gratitude need not be elaborate or complicated. A simple “thank you” is better than nothing – it kind of lets your employees know what they should keep doing more.
A study conducted by psychologists Adam Grant and Francesca Gino reveals that “thank you” from a boss gave the employees a strong sense of both self-efficacy and self-worth. Their study also revealed that the expression of gratitude had other positive effects – “Individuals trusted each other more and were likely to help each other more”.
Acknowledging the efforts made by your employees with gratitude show that your employees matter.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward
3. Greet your Team
It is a good practice to greet your co-workers or subordinates every morning when you arrive to the office as well say goodbyes when you leave from office to go home.
Though small, these kinds of interactions help you to build connections with your co-workers, encouraging friendships and relationships that go beyond the workplace.
One of the biggest obstacles that people face when trying to build friendships is that they assume that the person on the other end might not be interested. However, in reality everyone wants to communicate and interact with other people. And a simple way to break barriers can be using the greetings, avoid it and you will be hardly noticed!
“A good boss is a person who can tolerate any complain and still manage to say hello to his team every day.”
4. Deliver Praise & Recognition on a consistent basis
Majority of the well deserving employees tend to leave their jobs if they feel underappreciated at their workplace.
According to a report from Inc, the number one reason why employees left their jobs was because of their managers – very much aligned with the tune we always hear, “People leave managers, not companies”.
The managers or leaders often display least priority to give praise and recognition to the work done by their team members. This makes the employees feel that they are not appreciated for their efforts and get demotivated to contribute their best.
Giving praise and recognition on a consistent basis can enable your team to be excited and eager to contribute more towards the success of your organisation and lead to a happy workplace.
A quick recognition mail, a shout-out during team meeting complimenting the work, monthly or quarterly award for team members or even a simple feedback can help the managers to motivate their employees.
5. Avoid Micromanaging
If you want your employees to work in a healthy workplace environment, show them that you and your management trusts them to do an effective job.
Think for a second! If you are working on a project and your boss keeps pestering you asking for the status, would you like it?
The same applies to your subordinates or teammates too. You need to give them a little space and a sense of autonomy. You should avoid micromanaging at all costs.
Perhaps, you hired them in your team because you trusted them, right? So why don’t you trust them now, while they are working for you?
In an organisation, the top-level leaders should try to notice if the managers are encouraging group brainstorming or open communications with their team mates. If yes, then those managers are using their leadership qualities effectively to encourage a happy and stress-free workplace environment.
On the flip side, if you observe that the manager does not promote free flow of ideas and tries to show that he is super focused on minor details, then there’s a good chance of micromanagement happening, which needs to be checked.
6. Show Empathy
The way an employee feels at a workplace is hugely impacted by the way a boss treats them.
A research made by the brain-imaging study revealed that employees showed increased activities in areas of brain that were associated with negative emotions, when they recalled an un-empathic manager. However, when they recalled bosses showing empathy, the opposite happened in their brain.
It is true that more than half of the managers world-wide are ineffective in showing empathy or building relationships with their employees.
However, it needs to change and mangers should show empathy by actively listening and understanding their employee’s problems. This contributes to a lot in having a happy workplace environment.
“Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it’s up to you to make that happen. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.” – Barack Obama
7. Prioritize the work-life balance
Prioritizing work-life balance for your employees is not only important for their health and relationships, but also leads to their improved productivity and performance at work.
Employees need to have a greater control and ownership of their lives, as it will help them to have better relationship with the company management as well as family members.
Having a proper work-life balance will enable the person to leave work issues at work and home issues at home. With proper balance, the employees are motivated and less stressed at work. This in turn increases the work productivity and reduce conflicts at the workplace.
Studies like the one done by rescuetime, clearly indicates that employees having proper work-life balance do better job at work and when they lose work life balance, everyone suffers the consequences.
8. Encourage teammates to discuss about their problems
Its very common in corporate culture, where managers are often heard saying “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions”. In such scenarios, no one would want to upset their bosses. But do you think, these kinds of behaviours encourage growth and success in the organisation? Does it contribute to a happy workplace culture?
Researches by Harvard have shown that employees who feel psychologically safe and are free with their leaders tend to show superior performance in their jobs. Getting inputs and feedbacks from people down the rank is critical for an organisation’s success.
Managers should show calm, concise and polite behaviour even if the employees bring bad news. Bill Gates in his famous book “Business at the Speed of Thought”, says that one of his most important jobs as CEO was to listen for bad news so that he could act on it immediately and come out with solutions.
9. Have occasional outings
It can be quite tedious and boring for your employees if you make them sit at their desks all day long, day in and day out. Managers and leader at the office can contribute to a happy workplace by throwing surprise parties or outings to make their employees feel good.
The employees can turn out to be ultra-productive in the following days after having a well relaxed and refreshing time outside the work.
As a manager, you get to know more about your employees and a personal bonding is created in such kind of outings.
In the current situation, COVID-19 pandemic might make you think if you really need any outings for your employees. However, if you really want to go for it, you can follow some of the tips like social distancing, wearing of face masks, limiting physical contact, encouraging hand washing, limiting contact to commonly shared items, etc to ensure health and safety of your employees.
If not, you can even try activities promoting virtual team bonding for your whole team working remotely.
10. Encourage positive thinking
“Stay positive” and “Stay strong” – these are the two things that you hear the most from your friends and colleagues when something is not going right for you.
Well, everyone knows life is not worth wasting thinking about the negativities around. You can have a hundred reasons to be happy, but negativity can bring you down even if you have one thing that didn’t work out your way.
“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” –Winston Churchill
Managers must proactively encourage their employees to think positively always. There can be situations where you and your team didn’t achieve the expected results. As a manger, you should inspire your team members to be positive and encourage them to do better next time. Positive thinking will eventually bring positive outcomes for your team and contribute to a happy workplace.
11. Leverage the power of feedbacks
Giving feedback to your employees can be considered as one of the best ways to help your employees thrive at their work. Effective leaders understand the power of feedbacks, as they use it as a lever to increase the sense of learning and vitality among the employees.
Your direct reports feel valued when they are regularly updated with feedbacks on their personal performances, as well as business updates.
While the positive feedback with recognition clears any sorts of confusion and lets the employee know how his or her behaviour is aligned to the company’s progress, the negative or directional feedback provides guidance. This leads people to become more aware of their behaviour and confident of their competence over time.
“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve. – Bill Gates”
12. Setup Individual Development Plans
For those who are not familiar with the term “Individual Development Plan” or IDP, it is a tool used by the organisations to assist the employees in their professional as well as personal development. It serves the purpose of setting both short term as well as long term goals for the employees in order to improve their performance at work.
IDPs can be used to understand the team members professional as well as personal goals along with their strengths and any areas which they would prefer to improve.
The managers can set 3-4 professional as well as personal goals each year for their employees and then rate them based on their performance.
The use of this tool in an organisation can create an impression amongst the employees that the company is serious about investing in them and can drive them to perform better in their work.
13. Celebrate project completions and accomplishments with team
Everyday companies work on projects. Some project works are successful, while some aren’t that successful. It has been observed that most of the organisations treat all kinds of completions almost in a same way – with deafening silence or a sigh of relief.
However, if the team is handled by an effective team leader or a project manager, then we know that celebrations, rewards and recognitions will be part of the successful project completions.
As a manager you should know that in a company projects keep coming and gets done. However, every project will have lots of personal and emotional investments made by each team members. Celebrating accomplishments and success helps in providing meaning, creates teamwork and help your team to achieve even more success.
14. Encourage workplace wellness
With an increase in sedentary jobs, the organisations are taking initiatives for workplace wellness for their employees. A desk-bound, uninspiring work life culture can cause hazardous effect to an employee’s health.
Companies that invest for their employee’s health have seen big difference in the productivity of their team. A study conducted by Aflac, showed that about 61% of employees made healthier lifestyle choices as a result of company’s wellness program.
Investing in workplace wellness can increase the motivation and productivity levels for the employees with increased energy levels. It helps bring team together as wellness programs require team engagement both outside and inside the workplace. And most important of all, it reduces the work-related stresses as fitness levels and healthy eating can reduce the stress levels.
15. Socialize at workplace
Whenever you need an advice or support in a difficult situation, you often tend to depend upon your friends or family members, right? Well, when you are at your workplace, do you prefer to socialize with your colleagues?
If you haven’t made any social connections with your colleagues till now, then its time to change your mentality. Having authentic social connections at workplace can provide you with immense psychological benefits as well as keep you physically healthier.
If you are a manager, you should know that the power of socializing in the workplace environment has the potential to change your employee’s lives. This also benefits the organisation that can succeed purely based on the positive team culture.
“The best managers encourage friendships in workplace by creating the conditions under which such relationships thrive.”
16. Invest in Team’s Personal & Professional Growth
Would you not believe that personal development is the basic need of every human being and that you need to constantly grow in order to feel the fulfilment?
The same law applies even to the employees in any organisation. Great leaders know the fact that employee development is a critical part in creation of any lasting business. Investing in your team is an important aspect of creating an enduring, long-lasting business as well as reducing the turnover for the organisation.
However, there are few leaders who would like to assume that personal and professional development is the responsibility of an individual and the company need not invest in it. After all, why should the leader think of an employee’s enrichment, his job is to grow the company, right?
The fact is, if you are not willing to invest in your employees, then you are not investing in the long-term growth of your business.
17. Remove too much clutter
A clean and less clutter workplace can do wonders for an employee’s mood, productivity and morale.
We all have witnessed that one room or one desk in our offices that hold all sorts of mysterious items and miscellaneous objects that anyone seldom uses.
If you have watched the movie “The Intern”, you would have observed how a table filled with office junk kept piling and constantly bothered the CEO Jules Ostin (role played by Anne Hathaway).
Later when Ben Whittaker (role played by Robert De Niro) clears it, a huge smile of relief spreads across the face of CEO. Everyone in the company feels good about Ben’s work and we can see a glimpse of a happy workplace there.
The clutters can potentially reduce our attentions level at work, lower our ability to cope up with difficult projects and even increase our stress levels.
Keeping the workplace tidy isn’t much of a difficult task. All you need to do just keep the essentials on your desk and wipe out all the other old clutters that you do not require.
18. Create a safe environment
Every employee in his or her workspace would want to have comfortable and safe environment to work. A healthy and happy workspace environment involves the physical environment of the office as well as occupational health of the workers.
Ensuring office floors with covered or taped down electrical cables to prevent employees from tripping over, rat-free office spaces, avoiding cracked ceilings, etc should allow employees to worry less about their safety at work.
Safety in workplace also includes elimination of negative personalities and respecting every employer – be it an intern or an experienced senior team member. Honesty and integrity at workplaces can make the employees feel safe and create a happy workplace.
19. Schedule breaks
Have you ever noticed that some of your colleagues often tend to get more work done and never seem to be stressed out? What do you think would be there secrets?
It’s simple, they know the power of taking scheduled breaks. It keeps them happy, focused and more productive at work.
Breaks can help the people at work to come out of their boredom if they have been working for too long on a particular task.
Our brains aren’t built for extended focus and we should stop testing its limits. Focusing too hard on something for a long time doesn’t help much. We need breaks to rejuvenate our brains.
Whether you are working from desk on a computer or working from a cell phone, do take a break to step away from what you are doing. Stepping away for few minutes can help you to come back to your work with better focus, freshness and motivation.
20. Bring in Plants, Air fresheners and have Open windows
For most of the people living in the cities, air pollution can be one of the major reasons for reduced productivity in workplace.
According to an article published in IZA-Institute of Labour Economics, there are considerable evidences that suggest that poor air quality lead to many negative health effects which directly impacts the work productivity as well.
Similarly, studies have also shown that scents can alter our emotions and bring in positive mood.
Did you know that on an average we take around 23,000 breaths per day? This should clear any doubts you have related to the importance of air quality, required to do work in our day to day lives.
Plants are one of the most simple and economical way to protect us from the ill effects of pollution. Good smelling plants with flowers can bring in scents that can further improve our productivity at work.
Likewise, having open windows that allows fresh air to flow in can create positive workplace environment as well as lift your moods in the office setup. All this creates an atmosphere of happy workplace for all.
21. Food & Beverages in Office
How can your organisation energize the employees with the fuel needed to help them in their work? Their hard work, focus and dedication needs more than just the office furniture, computers and stationaries.
Well, I am talking here about the snacks & beverages. Do you ensure its adequate availability to your employees?
Drinking water and staying hydrated definitely makes you refreshed, but more than that it improves your overall health, productivity and increases your memory.
Other than that, you could keep snacks (healthy and guilt-free, lol) within reach so that employees don’t have to worry about their growling stomach while at work.
A hungry and thirsty mind cannot focus on work. Therefore, the company needs to ensure that these things are available to the employees as and when required.
In conclusion, a positive and happy workplace environment leads to more success in long term as it increases positive emotions and well-being. As the employees are able to develop better relationships with each other and come out of stresses easily, they are able to boost their abilities and creativity, bringing out the best for their teams.
And finally, when the organisation is filled with employees who are happy, positive and more loyal – higher level of organisational effectiveness is achieved.