Management and Happiness in the Workplace (part 2)

A few weeks ago we blogged about “Happiness in the Workplace” A topic that’s clearly critical to organizational efficiency and productivity. We concluded that post by asking “What can you do to make a happier workplace?
This post is dedicated to providing some pragmatic tips and example for and from HR management professionals like yourself.

Determining What Makes  Employees Happy

The first step is determining what actually makes your employees and organization happy. No two organizations are the same, so there is no single answer for everyone. To work out what makes your employees happy, you can:

  • Ask employees directly
  • Develop an employee suggestion system

HR Management - Happiness in the WorkplaceOnce these are determined and buy-in is obtained from the stakeholders noted in the HOME diagram, happiness needs to be approached as strategically as any other organizational initiative. That involves developing effective happiness strategies that include:

  • Precision
  • Activity Deadlines
  • Timelines
  • Objectives
  • Determining resources needed
  • Monitoring and evaluation system

How Management Creates a Happy Environment

Consider two things to create a happy work environment. There’s the physical Work Environment, and then there are Work Systems.

Work environment – Here’s a great chance to get creative and use the data you’ve collected to make spaces that are relaxing, fun, and engaging. Plan fun activities. Look at things like lighting, how the offices are laid out, and policies. Which employees can personalize their work stations? Can employees personalize their work stations once they’ve reached a certain rank? Now they have something to work toward – something that will personally satisfy them. This echoes what we discussed last week.

Take down barriers that don’t allow for personal interaction. Create communal spaces that encourage socialization. Friendships and relationships at work are central to finding blissful employment.

Work systems – These include work hours, incentivizing, formalized mentoring and support relationships, workflow design and payment and overtime calculations.

“People are Happiest when Developing and Learning”

According to Holly Birch, encouraging learning is paramount: “Contented workers tend to have personal career goals they are working towards and are therefore less likely to get bogged down in office politics.  It is important to prioritise career goals and support them in whichever way you can.  People are generally happier when they are developing and learning.

Take the time to figure out what strengths each employee brings to their job and give them an opportunity to shine. Nothing creates satisfaction and greater happiness than when one feels that they are recognized for their skills, are given a challenge, are supported in meeting it and can successfully achieve goals.

Work-Life Balance

HR management data from across the globe, not just here in Thailand, indicate people are happiest when they have a proper work-life balance that they feel is supported by their organization. As HR management professionals, we can conduct top-down training to encourage things like flex-time or working from home. If childcare is a concern, consider creating a place to bring children to work so that parents can rest assured that their children are nearby and well cared for.

Have a Celebratory Culture

Systemize and budget for celebrations. Birthdays, special occasions and reaching critical organizational milestones are a great time to promote cohesion, group fun, and to demonstrate that happiness is an important value in your organization. Parties inside and outside the office, or factory, group outings and ‘retreats,’ at resorts or in a completely novel atmosphere definitely make people happier. Ask your employees – they’ll tell you. Take what they say to heart.

Communication

It may seem small and perhaps even intangible, but people are happiest when they feel heard. That means it’s your job to listen.

Be a listening organization. Work with upper management to narrow the divide between boss and subordinate. Small things like saying hello, asking how one’s day is going and sincerely caring about the answer are great starts. Then, communicate frequently and transparently about company goals and values. Take to heart people’s ideas, suggestions and opinions; let them have a say.

Compliment people freely, publicly, and never neglect to give credit where credit’s due.

In creating a happier workplace, keep in mind that workers thrive when they sense that they are being listened to, that their advice is valued, that the organization cares about their welfare and that of their families.

And Remember: Happiness is Contagious!

Simply beginning the process of creating a happier workplace promises great rewards. Spread the happiness and maybe let it begin with you!