Ask people where their happy place is, they’ll usually describe their favourite holiday destination or a place they live. Very rarely will you hear… “oh it’s my place of work because it’s so inspiring and makes me feel so good when I’m there!”
But maybe there is a way to change the narrative about the workplace to something more positive...
Team Happy at one of their happy places - Alton Towers!
I recently posted some pictures from my latest trip to the Highlands and guess what? I described it as my happy place...
My happy place! ...a place to think, a place to dream, a place to hope, a place to breathe, a place to wonder, sit it awe, a place you’ll make home, forevermore ❤️🥰
I don’t think I’m the first to describe my ‘happy place’ in this way. As I speak to friends, family and colleagues and ask them to describe their happy place, it’s clear that there are some common characteristics that help each place win the title.
Perhaps it’s a place with a stunning view, a peaceful or tranquil place, a place that holds fond memories, a place for fun and excitement, a place where you can switch off from the stresses and strains of everyday life, a place providing inspiration. With any of these characteristics and more, it’s easy to see why they do become peoples happy places.
When you think about or ask people to describe a place of work though, it’s rare you hear any of these words to describe it.
I mean, you only have to look at the definition of a workplace and feel like running a mile…
“A workplace or place of employment is a location where people perform tasks, jobs and projects for their employer.”
Get me to the nearest sunset now! No wonder so many people are celebrating the one good thing to come from Covid - more opportunities to work away from the main place of work!
In complete contrast however, after 30 years of continuous research, Great Place to Work, whose mission is to ‘build a better world by helping organisations become a great place to work FOR ALL’ (www.greatplacetowork.co.uk) were able to define a great place to work (a happy one in our eyes) as…
“One where employees trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do and enjoy the people they work with.”
Now that sounds more like it!!
To be honest, it’s why Andy and I started The Happy Learning Company - to help create and inspire happier places of work around the world.
To help shift the narrative around going to and being at work, so it becomes a (or at least one of people’s) “happy place”. We spent too many years of our one precious life feeling largely unhappy at work and wanted to join the happiness movement to change the workplace disengagement pandemic.
“Gallup has found that roughly seven in 10 employees are struggling or suffering,
rather than thriving, in their overall lives. Eighty percent are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work. This lack of engagement costs the global economy US$8.1 trillion, nearly 10% of GDP, in lost productivity each year.”
- Gallup State of the Global Workplace Report, 2021
We want to see in our lifetime the workplace becoming a place where people feel happy, engaged, inspired, challenged and able experience the joy striving and thriving to achieve their full potential. A place where they feel connected and have a sense of belonging, enjoy positive relationships with their colleagues.
A place where they feel empowered and challenged to step out of their comfort zone and into the magic zone where they can discover their unique strengths and use them to make a difference to a work purpose that is more meaningful that just a job. A place where they feel safe (psychologically and physically) and treated fairly and with respect.
There are some great companies out there doing amazing things to create just that type of happy place to work. We take our hats off to them and enjoy watching their success - they deserve the benefits that come from creating a happy place to work. Happy people, happy customers, happy business (with very happy shareholders!).
Shawn Achor calls this ‘The Happiness Advantage’ and we can’t recommend his game changing book ‘The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance’enough if you want to discover just how beneficial it is to build happier places to work.
The Happiness Advantage is a theory of psychology that draws a connection between personal happiness and professional success. This idea proposes that the happier people are, the more successful they'll be (rather than what most of us were told as kids - that success leads to happiness!)
Because when we are happier and more positive we are more engaged, creative, resilient to stress (because life at work is never going to always be like sleeping bed a roses!), and productive.
When it comes to creating a happier place to work though, I’m a big fan of the work of the wonderful Jim Tamm and Ron Luyet - “Radical Collaboration.” (Another top book recommendation right there - make sure you buy the 2nd edition, 2020!)
We were lucky enough to meet Jim a few years back and have to say, he’s just amazing! From the research Jim and Ron completed over years - they were able to describe the culture of an organisation - in ‘Three Different Ways’ - the Red, Pink and Green Zones.
Now, take a look at the list of characteristics and attitudes of each one and see what zone, or environment, you would like to work in and think you would do your best work in. What zone would you most likely describe as a ‘happy place’?
- All credit and a massive thumbs up to Jim, Ron and Celeste ‘ The Experts’ at Radical Collaboration - https://www.radicalcollaboration.com
These characteristics or attitudes, which can all be measured by the way (check out their website to find out more) provide a great culture compass to use to strive towards creating a better, happier, more collaborative and successful place of work or team. Being aware of these zones and able to spend more time in the ‘Green Zone’ and quickly shift out of the ‘Pink’ or ‘Red’ is a great way to build and maintain a healthy, productive and happy workplace.
And whilst the leader of course has a really key role to play in enabling the right environment to exist, - everyone has a part to play in creating and maintaining the right environment.
When we started The Happy Learning Company back in 2015, I had a slate sign made up saying “The Happy Place”. It was a sign to remind us not just of our purpose, but of our vision, aspiration, and promise to also create a happy place of work for us and the team as we grew.
To help stay on track with that promise, we’ve recently reviewed our values with our team and together we’ve listed the key behaviours and mindsets we feel are key to living and breathing our values, achieving our purpose and maintaining a great place to work.
- Our values here at The Happy Learning Company
Using your values as a compass to steer you in the right direction and on track to creating a happy place is a great place to start and should become the green thread (nod to the green zone!) of any organisation - talked about and constantly aligned to so they truly do become embedded in your company DNA - the way you do things.
We need more happy places or work around the world to reverse the terrible disengagement trend that still exists today.
We spend sooooo much of our lives at work… wouldn’t it be amazing to hear more people answer the question “what is your happy place?” - where I work! (Alongside their favourite holiday destination or equivalent perhaps but still…)
So, what’s you happy place and how can you help create a happier place to work?
Much happiness and remember... don’t look for happiness, create it!
P.S. If you’re on the journey to creating a happier place to work to benefit from the Happiness Advantage, we’ve got lots of tools, tips and ideas for how to do it!
- Get in touch for a chat about your challenges and goals - book a call today and kick start your journey to happiness at work - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Check out our shop for inspiring tools such as the Creating and Leading with Happiness Challenges - www.thehappylearningco.uk/shop
- Explore our new F.I.T. series for ways to help create happiness by unlocking you and your colleagues full potential in key topics such as facilitation, leadership and storytelling. Book a date with us - check out our events page and book yourself on a free taster session or a workshop to discover more - www.thehappylearningco.uk/events
Always remember... don’t look for happiness, create it!