How to encourage happiness at work

Are you spending thousands of dollars on expensive consultants to help solve the employee disengagement problem in your organization? Are you struggling to see the results or is progress slower than you hoped for? Or are you simply looking for creative ways to inject a little bit of happiness at work?  The good news the secret to happiness at work is easy and free and provides instant results. Want to know the secret of what makes people happy?

Happiness moves

Have you ever met a happy person who does not want to move? How many depressed people have you met who move easily? The amount of movement in your life influences the level of happiness.  Usually, it involves a lot of persuading, begging and pleading to get an unhappy person just to get up from the TV. Never mind doing something active on a regular basis. Whereas a happy person usually constantly look for places to go to. They like to find people to meet up with, or things to see.  They want to move.

The more you move, the happier you get. Unscientific fact. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself. Make a list of happy people in your life, and how they spend their days. How much time do they spend sitting and how much time do they spend moving.  Compare that with a similar list of an unhappy person in your life. Moving is the secret to happiness at work.

From couch potato to superhero

Ever wondered why the best ideas usually pop up after you’ve left the meeting?  Humans aren’t made to sit still behind a desk for 8 hours a day. We’re wired to move. Sitting still slows down the blood flow to your body, including your brain. For ideas to flow, your blood needs to flow freely and easily.

So if you want to crack the secret to happiness at work, one of the first things you can do is to find ways for people to move more. Here are a few easy ideas to help you get your team moving and improve happiness at work:

1. Coffee corner idea boards

A feedback wall is an idea used mostly in agile organizations.  This is where an area – either a door, wall, whiteboard or flipchart – is dedicated for people to add their comments and ideas on a specific matter.

Encourage collaboration and innovation in the workplace.  Get people up from their desks and moving.  Create space for a feedback wall at the coffee station. Each week post a different question or issue where people are then invited to anonymously add their comments while they grab a coffee.

2. Walking meetings

When you have to discuss something with one or two team members, go for a walk rather than booking a meeting room.

This works great for brainstorming new ideas or talking about a specific problem.  It’s not that great for more than 3 people or a question requiring a computer screen or other tangible artefact around the discussion. Make sure you know what needs to be discussed and what the outcome should be before you leave the office.  Also, make sure that you follow up via email once you get back to the office to ensure that the insights gained during the walk are not lost.

3. Break-out room

No-one can focus on the same thing and still be productive for 4 hours without a break, let alone 8. Have a break-out room where people can take a break while moving.  Give them tools like a ping-pong or pool table, darts or a Wii tennis game.

Look for something active but doesn’t necessarily require someone else to play with. The focus is on an area dedicated to movement, not social collaboration, however, this is an added bonus if it is included.

Not only is spending a few minutes moving a great stress reliever but also improves collaboration by providing a safe space where employees can socially connect.

4. Standing desks

Design and architecture are two of the most important, and expensive, elements of a creative workplace, and a way to create happiness at work. If you have the budget or are serious about investing in a happy workplace, create space for standing desks where people can stand and work for a few hours per day.

There are advantages as well as disadvantages to using standing desks, which are summarized in an informative article on Forbes on the matter.   Create the space as a shared resource, allowing people to either use it or not, additional to their usual desk space.  It should not be a substitute for your usual desk, rather, it should be viewed as an alternative to optimize your day by combining the time to stretch your legs with the benefit of continuing to be productive.

5. Clean-up days

A clean workspace reflects a clear mind and a clear mind is a productive mind.  Not a new concept in the world of production and manufacturing, where one of the first keys to implementing any quality program is by clearing out the clutter and reducing waste. This simple technique is, in my opinion, an essential tool for improved productivity and happiness at work.

Schedule an hour once a month or once a week, depending on the culture, where the entire team cleans up their work area. Get rid of any unused paper, books, cables, and stationary in your workspace.  Organize what is left into a Scrum Board type arrangement for work that is planned, work in progress, and done.

Having a clean-up day is a gentle movement practise that helps to get people moving without disruptive or radical change while building healthy new habits.

A body in motion stays in motion

Now that the team is moving, make sure that you keep them moving.  Add new movement practices to your team and changing the current movement habits.

Keep it interesting, practical and valuable.

With 20 years experience in the software development industry, Kate specializes in helping teams get unstuck, communicate and ultimately be more productive. She believes in efficiency through fun implementing lean, agile and playful design as tools for process improvement and organizational change. Her goal is to create more happy, healthy and whole workplaces where each person thrives and productivity soars.