Australian positive psychologist Timothy Sharp – otherwise known as “Dr Happy” – asked 50 people a simple question: “What do you consider to be the top three contributors to happiness at work?” Their answers provide food for thought to managers and employees alike. Although this is an informal study, the responses are remarkably consistent with the study I have been conducting. These findings suggest five key steps to workplace happiness. Let’s take Key Steps together and…

Unlock the door of HAPPINESS

Your “Key Steps” Coaching for the week ahead:

1.Provide leadership and values. Employees at all levels and across a range of different industries agreed that leadership is important for happiness at work. The organisation as a whole must embrace clear values and all employees must have respect for these values, especially at the top levels. One person highlighted this by emphasising that she wished all employees – especially those in positions of authority – would walk the talk. For example, if the organisation is asking employees to seek a balance between work and life, no one should be sending out emails at 2 am.

2.Communicate clearly and effectively. Respondents also consistently identified effective and clear communication, especially from management, as critical to their happiness. This didn’t mean simply that management communicated its directives clearly, from the top all the way down the company’s hierarchy. When respondents talked about communication, they also expressed a desire to have their opinions listened to and taken seriously – even if it’s not what the manager wants to hear. This point seems to speak to larger issues of trust and respect. It’s hard to have a happy workplace without those two qualities!

3.Give thanks. Employees want to be valued as members of a team and organisation. But they also want to be told, frequently and appropriately, that they are valued, as people. They want to be thanked and appreciated for their accomplishments. When managers and colleagues openly congratulate employees for their wins or efforts, it makes everyone happier.

4.Focus on strengths. It seems to make employees happier when individuals and organisations focus more on identifying and maximising strengths, as opposed to just fixing weaknesses. This helps create a more positive culture and employees see their skills recognised and used. Respondents also stressed their desire for training that capitalises on their strengths and helps them advance within the organisation.

5.Have fun. Finally, respondents agreed that most workplaces would benefit from encouraging, fostering and reinforcing a fun atmosphere, one that encourages humour and playfulness. Every respondent, in one way or other, seemed to grasp the relationship between play and productivity:

1. that when employees are having fun, they’re also more energised. And when people are happy and enjoying themselves—at least some of the time!—they are nicer to be around, and more likely to go the extra mile for each other and the organisation as a whole and…

“be the difference that makes the difference