ARTICLE - HAPPITUDE AT WORK
TAKING CARE OF YOUR EMPLOYEES’ HAPPINESS,
What’s the first thing you think about when you hear the words “mental health”?
I’m quite sure your first associations are:
stress – anxiety – lack of sleep – tiredness – burnout – feeling depressed – low energy…
We tend to associate mental health with negative feelings, however in itself it’s neither positive nor negative.
Mental health is the level of health of your mind, the way it feels and functions.
There’s a spectrum:
- A poor mental health
- An acceptable mental health
- A positive mental health
People with poor mental health are definitely struggling; they can feel scared, sad, anxious, depressed… They can still function normally, but below their potential and it’s quite different from mental illness such as clinical depression.
Because mental health influences happiness, which in turn impacts engagement and productivity, companies are increasingly implementing initiatives to help their employees go from a poor level of mental health to an acceptable one.
WHAT ARE SOME STRAIGHTFORWARD MENTAL HEALTH INITIATIVES?
- Build awareness: talking about mental health and recognizing it’s different levels.
- Have leaders openly discuss their experience with mental health.
- Create a safe environment for employees to discuss their mental health (from “Mental Health Coffee Chats” to dedicated services) with the support of management and experts if needed.
- Management must take action to address known causes, not only fix the symptoms.
Unfortunately, going from poor to acceptable mental health doesn’t mean you are thriving and many employers stop their efforts right there.
With an acceptable level of mental health, we are “functioning,”but we could be thriving!
When companies take steps to facilitate a positive mental health level, it creates a work environment where employees are happier, healthier, more engaged, motivated and productive.
It’s a win-win situation.
Concretely, that means we need much more awareness around happiness at work.
HAPPINESS AT WORK IS THE POSITIVE SIDE OF MENTAL HEALTH!
It’s not mission impossible!
Here’s my 4-steps to implement a strategy where the team’s happiness is part of the company’s culture:
1. INCREASE AWARENESS
There’s ample research about the impact of happiness at work and a company’s success. It’s not just about the turnover cost of replacing employees. In short, happy employees are more innovative, creative, engaged and profitable for a business.
Awareness must go from management to all levels of an organization and employee happiness must be part of it’s priorities.
2. SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS: FROM THE INDIVIDUAL TO THE TEAM
Many factors might influence your individual state of happiness (ex.: your manager, colleagues, work environment…) however, you are the starting point!
YOUR happiness is YOUR responsibility.
How each individual in the team feels, influences the team’s happiness. There’s different factors affecting team dynamics and ways to measure if a team is rather positive or negative (ex.: team turnover rate, sick day usage, meeting interactions, happiness / energy levels…). Use metrics that make sense for your team and find solutions.
3. TAKE ACTION
My top tips for a happier workplace:
Create a positive & safe environment fostering good relationships
· Happiness Talks:
Create moments for your team to talk about their feelings or personal life, share what matters to them or what worries them. This is about creating connections at the human level, we need that if we are going to trust and appreciate each other. Let’s not only speak about work but about life!
· Best practice sharing:
Talking about achievements and stresses is a great way to learn from each other and bond. Make it part of regular team discussions in a non-judgemental constructive way. Make it broader than about projects, from working from home to tips for giving recognition.
· Transparency & trust:
From management to entry level staff, transparency must flow freely for everyone to communicate openly, meaningfully and with trust. Be transparent and make sure that everyone is part of the process.
Share recognition & celebrate achievements
Having meaning in our life and feeling appreciated for our accomplishments are basic human needs. Below are two simple ways to boost both:
· Sharing praise & recognition:
Such a simple thing yet often overlooked, giving recognition, showing appreciation and sharing positive feedback are the best ways to show people they matter and make them feel seen.
Make it part of team meetings and send personal notes to mark accomplishments or say thanks. At Happitude at Work, we created professional recognition e-cards that are far from boring. Check them out to show more appreciation at work:
www.happitudeatwork.com/happicards – DIGITAL KUDO CARDS!
· Celebrating regular successes & failures:
Big and small successes deserve recognition, but so do the learning experiences from failures. When teams feel enough trust to talk about tougher experiences, they grow and become more resilient. Try a success wall (use Padlet or Mentimeter for a virtual version) or start meetings with shout-outs to the latest success or failure.
When employees express their successes, they “feel” it again and they “own” it better.
Happiness at work doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a process. To achieve results that last and maintain a positive mental health in your business you must keep at it. The best case scenario, happiness becomes part of company culture and mental health is an integral part of corporate strategy.
Keep in mind there’s a whole value chain: from the front-line staff all the way to shareholders. In a trusting and safe environment with a positive mental health, employees are engaged, motivated and perform higher. It’s good for everyone involved!
Now it’s your turn to take action to improve your team’s happiness level and their mental health!
Aurelie Litynski is a Chief Happiness Officer and Founder of Happitude at work.
Her mission is increase the awareness on happiness at work in companies and help leaders and employees being successful by creating more work-related happiness in their teams.
Are you interested to implement a strategy where your teams happiness is part of your company’s culture? Let’s get in touch!