Tag Archives: happiness at work

More people are working from home. Is it the future?

17 Feb
Does working from home make more sense to you.

Does working from home make more sense to you.

Happy vs sad workers

8 Jul

You don’t need an infographic to tell you that most of North Europe does not experience high levels of sunshine throughout the summer months. Turn left at the UK and you will see Ireland a rocky outcrop on Northwestern Europe. Here is definitely not sunnyville. This week for some reason we have been hit with a sunny heat wave and it rocks.

The dilemma for most of us when the weather is this good is do we go to work or do we invent an illness and stay home. Or as an employer do we provide concessions to our workers and wrap up proceedings a little early and send your staff to the park or beach.

Weather like this in our part of the world does not come very often, would you blame us for wanting to soak up as much of that vitamin D as possible. Employers should take note. If you feel your staff have gone the extra mile for you throughout the year then this is the time to do pay them back. This will all depend on the industry you are in. A mass exodus of Traffic controllers from Dublin airport is not the wisest thing no matter how liked you want to be as a boss.

Yvon Chounaird  head of Patagonia the outdoor lifestyle company is a great believer that if the weather is right and your staff are looking to head out whether it is climbing, trekking or surfing just let them do it. After all his company was built on people being passionate about the outdoors. They will repay you in many other ways. Trust your staff to do the right thing.

Ricardo Semler from the Semco organization in Brazil trusts his people, that is how he turned Semco into a €1 billion organization, by giving his staff autonomy to the point that they can decide their own salary. If you have the right people onboard the salary they choose will define what they are worth and will correspond very closely with what you would offer. As Ricardo says

“I am not interested in…making sure that you (the employee) are here, that you are giving us so many hours a day. We need people who will deliver a final result.”

If you believe your staff need to be supervised constantly the likelihood is that they feel that way too and will want to down tools as soon as you are not around. My blog here explain Maslow’s X and Y theory and it’s connection with your workforce happiness.

Today or this week as the sun shines, think about what you can do for your staff that will make them feel valued (as they should be) . A round of 99’s or an afternoon off it’s up to you. The payback from your staff when that extra mile is needed. The wellbeing of your people must be paramount. Remember some of them see more of you in the 40hrs or so a week that they spend with you than the ones closest to them.

Happiness and motivation are created never bought. As Yvon Chouinard says“Let my people go surfing”

Happy Henry

28 Mar

Happy-Manifesto-front-coverHappiness in the workplace is an essential cog in the growth of all successful and sustainable companies. It creates wellbeing within your staff, increases productivity, lowers absenteeism rates and creates a healthier environment that your staff want to work in and in return your staff feel valued and willing to go that extra mile when needed.

I have with interest followed companies and leaders that are championing the importance of wellbeing in the workplace. Companies like Zappos with Tony Hsieh at the helm and Semco with Ricardo Semlers innovative approach to autonomy at work.

Another name that has been leading this field is Henry Stewart. Henry created the aptly titled Happy ltd a company that started in the field of I.T training and now helps companies to create happier workplaces.

Henry understands the importance of job ownership, trust and freedom to make the right choices in the workplace. He had initially worked as a financial officer for the News on Sunday which managed to close after 6 weeks and £6.5m in funding due to the fact that

  • Staff where not trusted
  • Strong blame culture
  • No freedom to execute the job.

Henry went on to create Happy ltd and 21 years after his experience with “The News on Sunday” he had led Happy Ltd to the position of 18th best workplace in the UK.

How Henry did this was down to reverse what he had seen in his previous role and provide his staff with

  • Trust and freedom
  • Communication
  • Challenges
  • Autonomy
  • The desire to want to turn up to work each day rather than to feel they had to.

He outlines how he did this in his book Happy manifesto. Here Henry asks questions that every one who runs an organisation should be asking of themselves and their staff.

  1. What can you do as a manager or colleague to make your people feel good now?
  2. How would your organisation be different if its key focus in management was on making its people happy?
  3. What would be different in your organisation if mistakes were encouraged and welcomed?
  4. Do you encourage your people to play to their strengths rather than focusing on their weaknesses?

These are just some of the questions that managers and company owners need to ask to grow the company that will serve us, our staff and our customers well. Otherwise we end up as corks bobbing in the ocean screaming “I must have control, I must have control”.

Well the cool thing is that Henry is organizing a Day on the 24th of April where you can get to meet him and some other fantastic speakers on the benefits of creating a happier workplace for you and your employees.If you can not make it a copy of the Happy Manifesto is recommended reading for all who are willing to make the leap to happiness at work.

Will Coffee and Apples make us happy at work?

30 Nov

I have just read an article from last Fridays Guardian  where journalist Graham Snowdon referred to a study on happiness within the workplace. It made the connection between happiness within the workplace and up to date technology a good desk and access to decent coffee.

According to research commissioned by office developers Goodman, the things that keep us most happy and motivated at work are both conceptually simple and reasonably cost-effective: namely, up to date computers, a desk for keeping personal things on, and access to decent coffee.

The simple things are always the best. Access to these items in themselves are a bonus to any office (some might even say a basic requirement) but discovering why our staff are happy requires that we delve a little deeper into why our staff keep turning up each day and being happy to be there.

Yes we do like shiny new computers and the best Italian coffees but If you want your staff to feel happy in the workplace they need to feel

  • That they have a meaningful contribution to the organization that they work for and have a say in the direction that the company is taking.
  • That the job that they have is engaging and they have a sense of fulfilment in their role.
  • That they are appreciated for what they do. We like to be praised for what we do. Not empty praise or praise for the sake of it. We need to really appreciate the people that work for and with us. When was the last time you let them know they mattered.
  • That enjoying coming to work is ok. Having fun in the workplace breaks up the routine and once again brings out a side of us we all love. Once it doesn’t hurt anyone you can be as wacky as you want to be. Try it some time.
  • That they are growing within your organization. We are creative ,inquisitive beings we like to learn. encourage your employees to take up a course in what ever they want to do. It does not have to be in a subject related to what they work at. It could be artistic, creative or based in logics or mathematics.  If it is what they want to do ir will only benefit you and them in the long run.
  • Trusted. I don’t mean security wise, that should be a given. I mean do you trust your staff to make the right decisions. We all make mistakes so be prepared to see some happen. Learn from it and move forward. As I spoke about in a previous blog. Ricardo Semler saw his company Semco grow once he was prepared to delegate responsibility and trust the decisions that his workers make. Go for it.

Access to Italian espresso and Apple computers are great plusses to any workplace. But if you hate where you work and what you do, no amount of coffee and Apple macs will change that.

Happiness at work comes from being engaged, feeling trusted, feeling appreciated,having control over what you do,enjoying turning up to where you work and apparently staplers!!! as Graham Snowdon says

Another interesting titbit from the Goodman survey concerns the vital importance of staplers on office morale. This is apparently particularly true in London, where one in 10 workers complain there are not enough to go around. In Scotland, curiously, there appears to something of a stapler surplus, with one in five saying they have too many of the things. Have the Scots been quietly stealing them all?

Happy days.

A healthy workforce are also a happy workforce.

26 Nov

I spent the summer working with pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp and Dohme recently. We have provided them with a fitness and nutrition course. It is a chance for the staff to find a level of fitness that they might not have experienced before and in the process lose or add weight. At the end of the day it is not just about fitness it’s more than that.

When we had finished each evenings session the smiling faces where not just a result of the relief that the hour of exercise was over or the fact that I kept reminding everyone that most people were sitting on the couch watching soaps, while we were staring at the sky doing sit ups and thanking life for being so good to us ( you gotta make it fun). It was the feeling that something difficult had been accomplished and more than that, it was the release of feel good hormones(Endorphins) into our bodies that change our mood to a more positive one than we have had before. This is why exercise is so good for us. It is more than the exercise it is the benefits to our mood and well being. Try it some time when your mood is a little low. Partake in twenty or thirty minutes of good exercise, I mean a vigorous walk,run, workout or a team game. Pause afterwards to gauge the way you feel. You will see a difference!!.

Exercise is great but it is important that you inject some fun into it, even when you set goals. One of the goals we set was to run a 5km  by the end of the programme. There is a 5kmrun called Runamuck(which speaks for itself)  which is basically a very long assault course with over 1,000 participants. Lots of mud, music, people in fancy dress and tons of fun. These are goals we like. If you don’t like cycling then don’t cycle. If you don’t like jogging alone then find a team sport. Just make that exercise fun.

Merck are doing the right thing by their staff by promoting a healthy active lifestyle but they are also contributing to their positive mental health without setting out to do this. More companies should do this. We at Wake Up! have put together programmes that can make your staff feel better about themselves not just physically but also mentally. A happy workforce is not only productive but also more creative, less prone to take sick leave,and more likely to stay committed to your organization, resulting in lower staff turnover levels. Not a bad result!!.

If you are an employer, think what have you done lately that has made your employees feel happier and better about themselves. Think of how your employees would feel if they understood that you cared about how they felt. The activity can be small but the results will be much bigger than you expected.

Delivering Wow!

21 Nov

One of the companies that I love to talk about when I present workshops is Zappos.com. I love companies that turn the nature of business as we know it on its head. One of the tenets we go by at Wake Up! is that “Nothing has to be the way you think it is” and Zappos do this very well. They are run by CEO Tony Hseih and he has an interesting outlook to the way Zappos is run and to the employees that are employed as part of the organization.

First of all what do Zappos do? They sell shoes and sneakers online throughout the United States. They have recently included clothing as part of their online sales stock.  Nothing too out of the world about that you might say. Lots of companies sell products online, including clothing. Where Zappos began to stand out was at the formative stages of their company structure when they had decided that values were going to be an integral part of the way the approached their market. I teach students the importance of values within not only our personal lives but also within business. Companies who have a clear identity of what their values are have a greater idea of where they are going. Values are our moral compass they can also be seen as our company’s compass too. Within Zappos they are clearly defined.

1. Deliver WOW Through Service
2. Embrace and Drive Change
3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5. Pursue Growth and Learning
6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8. Do More With Less
9. Be Passionate and Determined
10. Be Humble

I particularly like “Delivering Wow through Customer service” which they do with unscripted conversations at their call centre. All delivery through the United States is free which is no mean feat when you are talking 3,994 km from their warehouse in Kentucky to Seattle. If you do not like the sneakers that you purchased you have a 365 days to return them(once they are in the same state you received them) no quibble. I recently read of a customer who had contacted Zappos about returning a pair of shoes she had purchased from them. Customer service had noticed that they had still not received the shoes a few weeks after they had been contacted by the customer. When they decided to make contact with the customer they discovered that the customers mother had passed away and returning shoes was the last thing on her mind. Zappos said that they would take care of the shoes and duly sent UPS around next day to pick up the shoes. The woman was also surprised to discover that she had received a bouquet of flowers the following week with condolences from Zappos. That is customer service!!

The interview stage at Zappos has potential employees being asked “On a scale of 1-10 how weird are you?’ I am not sure about you but I might be weird, I might even be very weird but am I going to impart this information at an interview. I don’t think so. Unless it is Zappos that I am looking to be employed by. They want people who grade themselves high on the weird scale and are willing to admit it. The weirder the better. Workers can wear what they want to work and can decide to decorate their workplace in whatever manner they want. No better way to brighten up dull offices or dull souls.

Training lasts for 4 weeks where a salary is paid. On the Friday of your first week training with Zappos you will probably be asked how you enjoyed your first week with Zappos and then you will be offered $3000 to leave the company. If you don’t take up the offer this week you can avail of the offer the following week as it will be a choice you will be given each Friday of your training. Why? you ask. It makes sense to have you leave the organization at this stage rather than discovering that you are a poor fit for the company 6 months down the road when the company has invested more time and money into you. It also instills a great sense of belonging to the workers that are left, knowing that they have  all turned down the $3000 to be there.

Watch any of the videos of Zappos staff on Zappos.tv to see a happy engaged workforce that are excited about coming to work. In a world of substandard customer service that leaves us waiting on the end of phone lines for answers to queries that make us feel maybe we where the problem in the first place, Zappos is a welcome breath of fresh air. With a turnover of over $1billion a year, a committed workforce and customers who keep happily returning. We can learn a lot from thinking different.

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