I am a big believer in the famous Confucius quote: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” And I dare to say that most people wish they loved their jobs so much that work wouldn’t actually feel like, well, work. Instead, work would be something that they enjoy, something that they look forward to, and something that they feel passionate about. Something, that makes them feel happy.
Choosing a career or a profession that fits one’s interests and competencies is the first step toward happiness at work and each and every one of us are responsible for choosing wisely. However, according to the World Happiness Report 2017 (Chapter 6. Happiness at Work), less than 20% of the European workforce feel actively engaged with their work. Engaged is defined as “being positively absorbed by their work and fully committed to advancing the organization’s interests”. In North America, Australia and New Zealand this percentage is slightly higher but still well under 30%. Furthermore, it was also found in the study that the respondents would rather engage in 38 other activities than work. In fact, the only activity that was rated lower than working, was being sick.
These numbers are actually quite shocking and I find it hard to believe that all these people would have picked a career that is not the right one for them. No, I believe that in addition to the individual employee’s responsibility over their own happiness, the organization has a fundamental role when it comes to employee wellbeing. It is our responsibility as HR specialists, team leaders, and small business owners to make sure that each employee feels appreciated for what they do, that they are given the tools and resources that they need in order to succeed, and that nobody is being bullied or harasshed at work. It is up to us to make the workplace a healthy environment for everyone.
Someone might be thinking now, “sure, I want my employees to be happy. And as a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure they already are. I mean, we pay competitive salaries, organize monthly team buildings, and we have our own hashtag, #lifeatourcompany!” Sure, all these things are great and they can and should form a part of your employee experience strategy. However, none of these things on their own are enough to create a happy workplace or to fix an issue.
So what is workplace happiness, then? True workplace happiness is about a culture and processes that put your employees in the centre of everything. It is about listening to your employees and working together with them to craft a workplace where everyone feels valued. It is about finding solutions to problems together and celebrating all those things that are already well at the workplace.
Obviously, this is not something that you can change in one night with a couple of team building activities. Creating a truly happy workplace takes a lot of time and effort, and it requires the long-term commitment of the key people in your organization: top management, department leaders, HR, and every employee. My purpose is to help you by proving you with the tools that you need in order to create a truly happy and healthy workplace.