square bullet7 Ways for Leaders to Spark Happiness at Work — in Ourselves and Our Team

From Harmony Major, CRP, CHHC, Natural Wellness and Stress Release Strategist for 30-plus professionals; Owner, Energetic Harmony

At minimum, a full 50% of our waking hours are spent on this thing we call “work.” These numbers climb much higher for entrepreneurs, CEOs, business leaders, and heads of single-income households.

And when we’re not working, we’re preparing for, thinking about, or commuting to and from work. So it’s safe to say that our experiences around business and work have a massive impact on our level of happiness, fulfillment, and stress.

So, as leaders, how can we ensure this experience is enriching and restorative — and not draining or harmful — for both ourselves and those under our care?

Use “We.”

Instead of telling Barbara, “You need to get to work 10 minutes early,” consider, “We all try to get to work around 10 minutes early, so there’s time to set up and ease into our day.”

Using “we”-focused language subconsciously reinforces that we’re part of a team and our role is important. It also reminds team members about the collective benefit of their efforts, and that what they do (or don’t) affects the entire organization.

Soften Demands by Focusing on Your Needs.

Instead of, “Get that report on my desk by 8am,” consider, “We need that report on my desk no later than 8am”

We’ve still conveyed urgency, and done it in a more collaborative, less bullying way. It communicates that deadlines are important, and so is the self-respect and personal agency of our workforce.

Create “Room to Reset.”

To feel clearheaded, competent, and effective under stress, it’s important to create relaxation and safety in the body.

Often, we wait ‘til day’s end to “decompress.” But practicing in-the-moment stress management tools trains the body to get better and better at supporting us in tough conditions. One way to build these skills in our team and ourselves is through Relaxation Rooms.

If the company has physical offices, we can set up comfortable seats in a safe, quiet space behind closed doors. At each of these stations, users can play a 10-minute-or-less guided meditation or breathwork exercise. Two examples include the 6-minute Positive Thinking Depression & Anxiety Exercise, and the 6-minute Time-Efficient Triangle Breath.

If the company is virtual, we can encourage daily, 10-minute, paid morning and afternoon breaks to reset. Team members might choose their self-guided mini session from an online company portal.

Again, the aim is to help us function better in times of stress. So, most sessions might teach tools that team members can incorporate into their workday, like during meetings and presentations.

Poll Your Team on Group Events.

Ever seen a show or movie where the main character’s company hosts regular “hockey games” or “bar nights?” What happens to the employees who don’t care about hockey, drinking, or the bar scene?

Polling our team — or better yet, working these questions into the interview phase — is a great way to understand what they really enjoy, instead of following the status quo.

Get to Know the Real Person.

We can foster genuine interest, safety, and inclusion by getting team members vocal about who they are. One way is through internal team profiles. We can ask questions like, “What’s one thing you wish people knew about you?” Or, “What’s one random thing you’re great at, that no one would guess?”

Bonus: Interesting info from team profiles works well on company About pages, to help potential partners and clients feel more connected to our brand.

Value — and Act on — Feedback.

A primary reason for workplace unhappiness is team members feeling overlooked, singled out, or excluded. We can proactively guard against this by taking our team’s temperature through regular surveys.

One easy way is to use services like Typeform or Cognito Forms to send regular, 3– to 5–question feedback surveys that are easy to fill out. And make time to do more of what’s working, or fix what needs fixing.

Collecting this feedback — and making the necessary improvements — shows that we value both people and profits.

Anticipate Time Off.

One way to fuel belonging is to honor holidays and special dates celebrating diversity, like those on this diversity calendar. We can also ask team members to share important yearly dates, to help them plan time off in advance.

If the bond feels comfortable enough, we might ask if they have cool ways they’d like to honor those days at work. In doing so, we and the rest of our team learn more about the human condition. And we build relationships through authentic honor, respectful curiosity, and celebration.