By Tamara Nolte – Lead Facilitator
The Secret Society of Happy People has declared August 8 is National Happiness Happens Day. The day we can all finally be happy! Hooray! Do you feel it coming? Do you feel the tingles of joy preparing themselves for their one day of celebration? No? August 8 is going to be just another average Tuesday? Hm… Maybe I can help.
It is widely understood that happiness in the workplace is one of the keys to living a meaningful life and having a longer life expectancy. It stands to reason that companies would start adding ping-pong tables, Segways and an all you can eat ramen bars to office common spaces. The belief is that by keeping “happiness on tap” through these external perks (sometimes literally beer on tap), employees will be productive, engaged and will stay with the company until they are 120 years old.
If leaders can focus their attention on the foundational elements of workplace happiness, there is a possibility of improving the “happiness mean” in the workplace.
Unfortunately, much like the parent who showers their children in the latest toys and gadgets, but will never make eye contact or say I love you, the perks aren’t quite enough.
Many parents say, “All I want is for my children to be happy.” When we take another look at this statement, we can see that it is an impossible standard. No human is going to be happy all of the time. Instead, when parents prepare children to navigate the ups and downs of life, they are setting the foundation for a higher bar of happiness in the future.
All of this holds true for employees at work as well. No person is going to be happy 100% of the time, and no amount of extra perks are going to solve for a cut throat and toxic work culture. Instead, if leaders can focus their attention on the foundational elements of workplace happiness, there is a possibility of improving the “happiness mean” in the workplace.
- Psychological Safety
- By creating an emotionally stable, inclusive environment for employees, leaders are laying the soil for increased happiness at work. When Google sought to learn what made a perfect team, they stumbled across this concept called psychological safety. I believe this is the kind of environment created when establishing a team, or as we like to say at Second City, an “Ensemble.” It is this psychologically safe “ensemble” that allows all members to bravely bring their whole self to work.
- Set up employees up with the resources they need to succeed. Co-create achievable goal with them and then trust each employee to manage their progress, using the goals as a guide post for check-ins. In short, stop micromanaging. Instead hire people you can trust to set free and do the job well. Independence is another foundational element of happiness as it cultivates a level of trust in oneself.
- Spark Joy
- Set a tone of play. Once psychological safety is in place and employees are set free to tackle their goals, don’t forget to continue to encourage a culture of joy. This point may be where your ping-pong tables come in handy but likely there are more subtle and authentic ways to introduce some fun into the office. In Andrew Eninger’s post on having more fun at work, he outlines a few helpful tips for how to pump in the fun factor.
So, there you have it, a quick guide to prepare yourself for the impending National Happiness Happens Day on August 8. If you are still finding this task a bit overwhelming, you can always fall back on a different celebration. August 8th is also National Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day.
About the Author:
Tamara Nolte is a creative consultant based in Brooklyn, NY. For Second City Works, she designs and leads learning programs for Fortune 500 clients. She also serves as the Director of Education for Kidville, an early childhood franchise company. Tamara has her MBA from Kellogg School of Management and will take any opportunity to direct you to her website www.tamaranolte.com for more information.