Tag Archives: happy staff

Life at Google Paris- not bad at all!

17 Jun

We don’t all have the same funds as some organisations but the general idea of creating an environment that will garner happier, healthier( maybe the free food could be a problem here) and more energised staff should be the goal of every organisation today.

Why You hate Work

9 Jun

Why you hate work 1This is an interesting  Article from the New york times by By TONY SCHWARTZ and CHRISTINE PORATH on employee Engagement, Purpose, Motivation and the effect that regular Downtime has on creativity.



16 May

Happy at work.This week I was lucky enough to attend the happy workplaces conference 2014 at the UK Google office organised by Henry Stewart at Happy. co.uk. It was a pleasure to meet a large number of people who are committed to creating a workplace that employees are happy to be a part of.

I won’t trawl through the complete run down of the day. At the end of the day everyone speaking was aiming for the one goal of happier and healthier workplaces. I will point out some very interesting points that arose from some of the speakers and provide questions that you might like to ask about the organisation you work in.

We had Henry Stewart the CEO of Happy.co.uk and todays event organiser. Work for Happy for 6 years and you are entitled to a months Sabbatical from work . Nice perk for any company and certainly something to look forward to as a member of any organisation.

Q: What would be your sabbatical?

Julian Birkinshaw is Professor and chair of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at London Business school. He looked at the importance of thinking differently at work, focusing on innovation. Pointing to H.C.L technologies who recognise the employee first and the customer 2nd . Not many companies are brave enough to act on this.

Julian also spoke about Hans Monderman a Dutch traffic engineer who dared to ask what would happen if we eliminated Road markings and traffic lights. The results were surprisingly brilliant. Your workforce is the same. Get rid of red tape and rules that make no sense and you will be surprised at what your staff will achieve.

Q: What rules or regulations that are presently a part of the running of your organisation make no sense and once eliminated will contribute to a happier, creative and more productive workplace.

Nicky Stone from Happy provided a great lunchtime talk on Henry’s Happy manifesto. Nicky spoke of the benefits of pre approving a project before an employee has even started it. She gave the example of Happy.co.uk  and it’s relaunched website in 2011. The whole project was pre approved a nd given to an employee John within the company. A couple of parameters around colour were provided. Also a requirements that the finished project should drive more traffic to the site. Henry saw the new website a day before the site was about to go live. At this stage no changes could be made. The website went live and within a few short months the traffic to the website had tripled. Nice work!

Q: What could you do to pre approve a project tomorrow?

Jennifer Kelly Global director of Real estate and Workplace service at Google was the next to speak. A very unassuming but interesting individual. She oversees 81 Google workplaces. Some interesting nuggets about how Googles design workplaces came up.

  • Neighbourhoods are created for teams to work on so that no member is more than 150ft away from the team.
  • Indoor bicycle lane in Amsterdam for Dutch employees.
  • Climbing walls for staff to exercise.
  • Slides (just like your childhood playground) that transport you from one floor to the next.
  • Relaxation and rejuvenation spaces for staff like aquariums and places that mimic nature.
  • Healthy eating in a free canteen.
  • Free bicycles to get around a large campus. Offer stairs as an alternative to a lift.

Q: If there were no limits what innovation would make your workplace even happier?

Lunch at Google London

Lunch at Google London

Tansy Drake and Tim Dorsett from Innocent spoke about the playfulness of working for the drinks company. ” At the end of the day we just squash fruit”

  • Everyone is present for the Monday meeting at 9 o’clock and is encouraged to contribute.
  • Famous for the Bananaphone. Ring the banana phone number on the side of their packaging and you will get through to a random employee on the office floor.
  • Dress up Fridays- were the staff don suits etc to work instead of the usual casual gear.
  • Instead of Employee of the month they have a presentation to  Lord or Lady of the Sash.Good fun.
  • Nine employees received a grant of £1,000 to spend on something they would like to do. One chose to do a remake of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

All Innocent’s actions within the workplace try to mirror the fun element they sell when it comes to their brand. A likeable product and a fun workplace.

The last speaker of the day was Yvonne Agyei who is head of Benefits at Google. a very interesting speaker who decided to ditch her slides at the last-minute and quickly proved that she never needed them. When you create a workplace that is so as energetic and dynamic as Google the problems might arise when

  • Your staff prefers being in the workplace than at home resulting in the inability to shut off from work.
  • Most staff cannot detach- not even on holiday.
  • This can all result in burnout.

An interesting nugget of information that came from a question asked of Yvonne by an audience member. ” By creating a great workplace to work in do you see a difference in your employee absence levels?” Yvonne responded by saying ” Actually we don’t track employee absence, So I don’t know” ” The biggest problem we have is persuading employees to stay at home when they are ill rather than coming to work and spreading bugs and colds to their team” . When you receive free breakfast, lunch and dinner from your employer why rush home.

Q: How would you measure wellbeing at work?

This year I think it’s time to bring a Happy workplace conference to Ireland. Watch this space. Happy days.



Organisations in the 21st century

8 May


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.

Lessons for living- Wake Up! To You!

7 Sep

The most important person in your life is guess who? You!!
Remember that old adage if you can’t look after yourself than what good are you other people.
Traveling on airplanes we are always told that if the flight encounters trouble always apply your oxygen mask first before you tend to your kids.
Sounds selfish doesn’t it.
It’s the exact opposite, if you can’t breathe you are hardly going to be able to have the energy required to help your children when they need you most.
This is the same for all relationships that you encounter. If you don’t take care of yourself the relationship will be affected adversely on some level.
If you find it difficult to love yourself you will ultimately find it difficult to love someone else because you find fault within yourself and cannot understand how someone could love someone you don’t love yourself.Eventually you will slowly dismantle your relationship through feelings of unworthiness. Weird isn’t it!
If through abuse of your health you find that you struggle to be the parent your child would love you to be then make a conscious change.

What do you do then?
Spend some time on you and then you will be surprised how people around you react to the new confident you.

  • Think of one thing that you always wanted to do in life but you where afraid to do ?
  • Ask yourself if life had no obstacles such as time or money or commitments what is the one thing that you would love to do?
  • Commit to spending time on whatever it is that you would love to do.

If you spent twice a week concentrating on this dream. You would be guaranteed a different outlook to your life within a year or less. We are only truly happy when we spend time on activities and pleasures that make our heart sing. As my last post 5 regrets to avoid told us it is too late in the last stages of our lives to discover we regret having spent so much time on activities that we never enjoyed. Happiness is a choice it is up to you to decide if you want it.

“Life should be fun. Happiness should flow freely”

Wake up! to You!

What connects us to others

17 Jul

Paul Zac has spent some time researching the effects of Oxytocin on our relationships with our fellow man. Paul is one of the leading pioneers in the field of Neuroeconomics.

Oxytocin to those that are not familiar with it, is sometimes called the “Love hormone”. It is present in Mothers breast milk and helps to create a bond between mother and child. It is also produced during sex between two people leaving the afterglow that is felt after sexual activity between two people who know each other that can last for hours. In short oxytocin connects people with others.

Paul Zak ran experiments were oxytocin levels were tested before and after individuals watched a video of a father and his four year old son who had terminal brain cancer. Oxytocin levels spiked in participants after watching the video. The change in oxytocin predicted their feelings of empathy. It is empathy that makes us connect with other people. It’s empathy that makes us want to help other people.

Oxytocin is also produced in situations where trust is garnered. The Trust game is a good example of this. Pairs of participants communicate together via computer terminals. They have never met before and are not aware of who the other person is. Both person A and person B are aware of the rules of the game. Person A is provided with £10 and is asked to send some of it electronically to person B. The motivation for person A as the rules stipulate is the knowledge that any money sent to person B will triple in value. Whereupon person B will have the option of sending some of it back as a thankyou.  You would think that according to rational behaviour Person B acting selfishly has no reason to give any money back and if person A knows this he would be wise not to send any over in the first place.

Yet in trials 90% of A people send the money over and get this …95% of people send the money back. Analysis of Oxytocin levels in the bloodstream reveals that by sending money to Person B, person A is giving a sign of trust and being on the receiving end of a sign of trust causes our oxytocin levels to increase motivating more generous behaviour in return.

So we know that higher levels of oxytocin in our system create a greater level of trust. We are more likely to open up our wallets and give to others once we feel trusted and our oxytocin levels have risen. We also see it in commercials for products we buy or from companies we buy from. Have you ever wondered why large corporations like Coca Cola, McDonald’s and Tesco’s have happy rinky dink tunes associated with their adverts alongside cute little worlds and animations that they have created. It is all designed to increase your oxytocin levels and build a level of trust between you and their brand.

Oxytocin has other benefits rather than just making the world a more pleasant place by rewarding you if you trust me but also by reducing blood pressure, helping us to relax and also reducing those dangerous cortisol levels we build up once we are stressed. It also promotes growth and healing and has anti anxiety effects. Unfortunately it is corrupted by high levels of testosterone which might equate for the lack of empathy and unselfish love and generosity that is experienced on the stock market floors around the world.

How do we naturally release oxytocin into our system? We know we can nasally inhale oxytocin into our systems  through inhalers which produces feelings of trust, connectedness and love. But what works naturally? Massage, dancing and even praying are all contributors to raised levels of oxytocin all activities that are enjoyable and easy to partake in. My favourite is simply through…… hugging. Yep apparently up to 8 hugs a day is a great contributor to raising feelings of connectedness, empathy, love and generosity all the values that would make this world a more wonderful home.

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