Most people feel unfilled in their jobs. In fact, according to Gallup, 85% of people are downright unhappy at work. They think their work is unimportant and try to do as little as possible to “earn” their paycheck. To combat this, many employers turn to perks and activities such as team outings, office holiday parties, and fancy coffee machines in the break room; none of this works when we are working remotely.
When these options are not available, how can leaders generate more happiness in the workplace? According to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, one of the world’s leading experts on happiness at work, leaders can start by going back to the basics and focusing on what makes people truly happy at work: results and relationships. However, this is a two-way street, because to be happy is a choice. It turns out that success typically follows the decision to be happy.
People want to show up to work every day and feel they are valued; that what they do matters. They know that their work makes a difference. They want to know that their work is important. It is also nice to receive appreciation from time to time. This is not about pouring accolades on everyone all the time–it is those subtle acts of showing appreciation that gets missed when we are busy.
As humans, we have a deep psychological need to control our environment, says Ingrid Fetell Lee, author of Joyful. When you are in a position where you feel like you have no control or that your work does not matter, you end up feeling terrible. One necessary happiness booster is to give your team members a chance to accomplish something. Help them know they make a difference. Empower people to make the decisions that need to be made. Instead of games in the break room, offer them more autonomy. Let your team members go after their goals on their terms and get those confidence-boosting results along the way.
Regardless of where your team works, you spend a significant amount of time together. Between team meetings, one-on-one calls, email, Slack messages, and strategy and planning sessions, you invest a good portion of your workweek with your colleagues, sales reps, customers, and suppliers. This is where you encourage your team to do great work with extraordinary people.
Does your team work remotely? Kick off the workday with a short stand-up meeting that allows employees to check-in, coordinate work, and share what they are working on. This is a simple way to boost happiness because it helps employees feel connected, involved, and part of a bigger team.
Even though you cannot have an impromptu lunch date when everyone gets hungry for tacos, you can still schedule an online lunch break or happy hour for you and your team to relax and enjoy time together virtually. Holding regular check-ins tells your team that you care about them.
When someone on your team exceeds their goal, closes a big account they had been pursuing, or hits an important milestone, take time to offer your congratulations. You do not have to be face-to-face to ensure your team feels seen and appreciated.
Employee happiness comes down to so much more than free treats at the office and an occasional team-building event. To bring more joy to your team, focus on results and relationships–and thrive.
Check out our blog post on How Culture Impacts Performance for more ideas on helping your employees perform and feel better at work.