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The ideal equation for a happy and harmonious workplace

5 min read

20 March 2015

With 20 March having been the UN's International Day of Happiness, what is it that makes a truly happy workplace. With a journalistic scowl, Real Business searched the internet for heart-warming answers and was soon skipping through the daisies.

(1) Hiring happy people

According to recruiter Monster, employers shouldn’t just focus on core competencies, skills and qualifications when hiring new staff.

These are clearly important but employers should also carefully assess personality and in particular whether a potential employee emphasises positives rather than negatives in their conversation, whether they engage with a smile or a laugh. How does this person make you feel – will they develop strong relationships with fellow employees and clients? 

Of course you don’t want to hire a Tommy Cooper or a Frank Carson wearing silly hats and constantly cracking jokes, but someone whose happy spirit will boost productivity and motivation.

(2) Creating employee goals

People feel happy when their lives are moving in a forward, positive direction. An employer should ensure that staff have clear and achievable career goals, that there are no blocks to promotion because of age or sex etc.

Access to training, both in-house and via third parties, is important here – as is regularly talking to staff about their roles, how they contribute to the group’s financial success and what they would like to do more of.

Office-wide this ability to have your voice heard no matter your level or pay grade is important – everyone should have the chance to provide ideas to boost company creativity and productivity.

Also don’t micro-manage, said happiness movement Action for Happiness. Trust your employees and give them freedom.

(3) Give back to your local community

Taking part in a charitable project – such as getting out of the office one day to volunteer at an urban farm or hospital – can be positive in bringing a work team together and boosting your firm’s reputation.

(4) Work/life balance 

Hard work is a given. You are a growing business, one you may have started yourself and with a lot of your own cash tied up in the venture. You want your staff to have the same work-ethic and drive that you have but you have to create an environment in which staff realise that other parts of their lives are equally if not more important. Perhaps an employee has a sick child – be flexible, understand that this takes precedence over an unfinished spreadsheet. So ensure flexibility in working hours and schedules to allow staff the time to take care of personal issues if necessary.

Employers should generally take an interest in their employees personal lives. Nothing creepy here – think of ex-Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson. Former players have said even ten or 15 years after their retirement that Ferguson can still remember their children’s names and memorable events. This makes people feel respected and appreciated.

(5) Benefits

According to employee engagement group Hppy Apps good workplace benefits also put a smile on workers faces. So free coffee, a good canteen, chill-out zones, free gym membership etc. How about a Friday cakes afternoon or Monday morning sausage sandwich run? Something to bond staff together.

(6) De-clutter

Your mum was right – there is a point to tidying your room or in this case your desk and drawer. Hppy said a clean desk gives you a “great push when you want to start new things”.

(7) Office designs and colours

According to The Art of Simple, red coloured rooms increase the heart rate and stimulate chemicals associated with aggression. Yellow stimulates feel-good chemicals, a cheery attitude and mental clarity. Pink rooms – apparently used in prisons to calm inmates – drain energy.

Blue rooms sound good – they promote calm and lead to a deep relaxed sleep. Perhaps, on second thoughts, not so good for 11am Monday morning.

Orange may be the winner – it promotes feelings of sociability and happiness.

Be careful though about using music in the office to create a “mood” – one man’s Norah Jones is another man’s idea of hell.

(8) Pay

Okay we know it’s not all about the money but we also live in the real world and it’s the main reason why we all force our way out of bed in the morning. Fair, competitive and respectful salaries paid on time every month will keep your employees happy.