Happiness — the secret ingredient to your company’s success

Here’s a question: what do Mars, The Adecco Group, Cisco, AbbVie and Hilton have in common? They are all multinationals active in Europe you may say. True, but what about if you’re looking at this list of companies from a HR perspective? Happiness. More specific: employees’ happiness. These 5 companies make up the top 5 of the Best Workplaces in Europe.

All humans want to be happy — it’s how we’re built — and now science has caught up. A huge body of evidence tells us that happy is literally better. Happy people and organisations are far more successful than unhappy ones. And if you’re into numbers: unhappy employees cost 450 to 550 billion dollars due to loss in productivity each year, so you truly want to consider a strategy that will make your employees enjoy the work they’re doing in an environment that makes them jump out of their beds in the morning.

We will not be telling you to offer your employees freedom, make sure the company values are demonstrated, ensuring the right rewards and supporting growth. Hopefully all of this is old news for you, but here are some out of the box ideas that will help you to become the next Google in terms of happy, engaged and productive employees.

Allow dogs at the office

Yes, you read it right.

In 2012, researchers for the Virginia Commonwealth University in the US studied the stress levels of employees of a manufacturing company who brought their dogs to work. They found these workers reported feeling significantly less stressed throughout the day than those who did not bring a dog to work.

In another study, reported in a paper by organisational psychologists at Central Michigan University, individuals were placed into groups of four, with and without dogs, and each group member was charged with a fake crime. In groups where there were dogs present, members were 30% less likely to report each other, suggesting dogs promote cohesion and trust among team workers. A further study found team members of groups with dogs rated each other more highly on measures of intimacy, team cohesion and trust than members of groups where dogs were not present.

Kill the suggestion box

Admit it, it doesn’t work. You can stick in your idea, but then what? Who (if anyone) will read it? Will it ever be acted upon? If not, why not? If it is, who will take credit? Create a transparent flowchart that lets anyone in the company suggest ideas, gather support for them and then have them implemented (or not). Simply use a board where people can stick their ideas on. Other employees get to vote on it. If an idea does get the necessary support, the person behind it writes a one-page proposal which is then submitted to the top leadership team

If they approve it, the idea goes ahead immediately and is placed on the “Ideas in motion” section of the board, if not — the graveyard.

Consider work-life integration instead of separation

Take a half day Friday to do something fun together. Go on a scavenger hunt, play sports outdoors, go paint balling or bowling. These social events help people bond with others on the team who they don’t interact with on a daily basis and builds a better sense of community within your organisation.

But also:

unlimited vacation days (with the assumption this privilege won’t be abused),

the ability to work from home whenever necessary or work out an unconventional schedule,

on-site yoga and a free healthy catered lunches every week,

refrigerators and cupboards stocked with fruit and healthy snacks for the entire office,

a yearly Wellness Day featuring free 15-minute back massages for every employee and a taste test of unusual, healthy juices

or what about a Mustache Day (a sort of mustache-themed Halloween that culminates in a fancy lunch out)?

All these things can help bringing your people together in a true community and make your company the dream destination for all the creative, energetic talents you need to get the work done.

Hire a Chief Happiness Officer

Last, but not least in our list. Chief Happiness Officer, just like a Chief Financial Officer, is tasked with increasing the solvency of an organisation’s happiness. A CHO is the liaison between management and employees in matters of mood, culture and communication, building the tools to create a happy workplace, and then monitoring and tweaking as needed to maintain and grow the happiness of employees and management alike. This work is invaluable for any organisation and you will see immediate results. The CHO’s job is to create an environment of contagious happiness from the inside.

Here’s a great TedxTalk of Arnaud Collery, the ultimate CHO:

Sincerely yours,

utterly happy team skeeled