The world of work can seem like a precarious place right now. Recovery from the financial crisis feels slow, and the news is full of stories of more companies folding under the current economic climate. You can’t control what the economy will do, and you probably can’t persuade your CEO not to make lay-offs once they have made up their mind to do so. However, whatever industry you’re in – commercial, artistic, the emergency services or armed forces – you can take steps to boost happiness within your team in several simple and innovative ways. And a happier, more engaged, and the loyal worker is more productive. It’s a win-win situation.
Happy workers are more productive
have shown a link between being happy at work and being more productive. One study of 800 men and women found that a rise in happiness led to an increase in productivity in piece-rate tasks. People who frequently experience positive emotions such as satisfaction, contentment and enthusiasm are more likely to succeed in their career and enjoy higher incomes. And if someone is happy at work, they are likely to want to stay.
Happiness motivates people – but what sort of smile-inducing activities or rewards could you introduce to your team? You may be surprised at how really simple actions can reap rich rewards.
Show your appreciation
Whether you are in a leadership position or starting out on the first rung of your career, it takes no effort but has a huge impact when you are appreciative of your colleagues and business associates. Perhaps someone showed you how to use the new invoicing system. Maybe your band member lent you their new amp. Perhaps the nurse on your ward changed your shift so that you could attend your kid’s baseball tournament. Ensure that you make your appreciation known to the colleagues who help you – even if it’s just part of their job. A sincere ‘Thank you’ means a lot. A box of doughnuts to share also goes down well! And the bottom line? Nearly 70 percent of employees says that they would work harder if their efforts were better recognized by higher-ups.
Following on from saying ‘Thank you’ is saying ‘Please.’ Along with showing appreciation, being polite and courteous costs nothing but has huge repercussions, enabling productive dialogue where people feel listened to and not ridiculed for bouncing new ideas around.
Encouraging colleagues to express opinions leads to improved relationships and a culture of courtesy and respect. Don’t underestimate the power of politeness: in a study, 47 percent of people intentionally decreased the time they spent there, and 38 percent said they deliberately decreased the quality of their work! Performance, commitment, and morale all increase within a culture of civility.
Ask for feedback
The saying goes that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Does your workplace have an easily accessible way of giving feedback to those who can implement it? Sometimes an anonymous online survey can work well, as people can give more honest feedback if they know they won’t be identified. In this way, the company can pinpoint what is important to people to boost morale – whether that is improving a clunky process or have free fruit in the staff kitchens to snack on. A hungry team member is a grumpy team member!
Having a say in the way your working environment is run is empowering – and being able to make a difference is a morale-boost in itself.
Celebrate your team’s unique identity
Feeling a sense of connectedness and like-mindedness is a true boost to happiness. Whether you’re in a school, a fire department, an orchestra or a sales team, celebrate and consolidate your group’s unique identity by creating custom wristbands, lanyards, T-shirts, or medals and medallions. To get an idea of what is available, visit . Having a physical reminder of the tribe you belong to fosters a sense of pride and honor. You don’t have to wait to win ‘Team of the year’ to present co-workers with medals. It’s important to commemorate the achievement of working together every day towards a common goal, whatever that may be. Get creative and come up with a design that encapsulates what it means to be a part of your team.
Encourage social connections
Repeatedly, studies show that the happiest and most successful people have strong social relationships – including their . The most successful people work hard because they enjoy what they do but, most importantly, they enjoy the company of the people they work with. So think about ways that you can boost morale in your team with the fun, social stuff. Perhaps it’s as simple as drinks after work, rehearsals or training. Or you could be a bit more adventurous and turn one of the meeting rooms into a games room, where your team can burn off steam for a few minutes every day playing darts, pool, or doing puzzles and jigsaws. Think of the possibilities of starting new social groups during your lunch hour at work once a week – a choir, a yoga class, martial arts training or different craft activities.
Taking it further, plenty of companies offer team-building days with many diverse activities. Get heads together to crack codes, go on scavenger hunts, solve murder mysteries or make the best boat, plane or musical instrument with just a piece of cardboard and some tape!
Give back to your community
Boost morale in your team by experiencing the ‘giver’s high,’ and find ways that you can give back to your community as a group. Building bookshelves for schools, assembling goodwill packages of food, blankets, and toiletries for the homeless in your community, or having a fun quiz to raise money for a local charity not only helps those in need but strengthens the sense of connectedness within your team. Perhaps your team can choose a different charity each year and think of different fundraising activities to raise money for worthy causes.
There are many ways to boost morale in your team – the only limit is your imagination!