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Tips for a Happier Workplace

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 08:13

By Leon Gettler

It is easy for managers to get caught up in worrying about the day to day tasks and forgetting about the things that make people want to work for them. Making the organisation a happy place to go to work is an essential part of good management. Managers have to create the sort of environment that attracts good people and helps those working for them do the best for the organisation. But how do they do it?

Business News Daily recommends creating a true learning environment for employees and that means providing training and development opportunities. Everyone wants to be stretched and challenged. Social activities can be encouraged too. Free breakfasts and staff parties cost money but there are cheaper ways to do it. For example, poker games, karaoke nights and weekly employee-led yoga classes could work just as well without costing much at all.

Being open and honest from the top down is also important, particularly in this day and age where everyone seems to be hooked into a social network. It’s important to empower employees and give them more autonomy. It makes them feel they are more part of the business. The company also has to invest in good managers. Remember the old saying, people don’t quit companies, they quit managers.

Fast Company says happy employees don’t stay in one role for too long. They need to move around to meet new challenges. Status quo, on the other hand, creates burnout. It also says there is a strong correlation between happiness and meaning. Having a meaningful impact on the world around is actually a better predictor of happiness than many other things. Also, a workplace is far likelier to be a happy place when policies are in place to ensure that people regularly get acknowledgement and praise for a job well done. Managers running happy workplaces also recognise that they need to focus on people first, workers second, and then, policies built around their well-being as individuals. They also need to emphasise work/life integration, not necessarily “balance”.

The Happy Manager site presents a list of questions that managers should ask: do you encourage people to get better at what they are already good at?; To what extent do people identify with what the organisation is doing and feel their work is meaningful and of value?; do you build strong supportive relationships, and see friendship develop?; how are people encouraged and is good work acknowledged and rewarded?; is how people behave as important as what they do?; does the environment encourage civil healthy working relationships?

Gretchen Rubin at Psychology Today says managers of happy workplaces make it clear to employees what’s expected of them at work. They also provide all the necessary materials and equipment, they recognise employees’ achievements, they care about them as people, they encourage their development, they ensure that the purpose of the organisation makes the employee feel their work is important, and they give them opportunities to learn and grow.