Monday 20th March marks the third official International Day of Happiness; an initiative started by the UN in 2012 to acknowledge the pursuit of happiness as a human right. The day has aimed to promote happiness and wellbeing across the globe through various projects, campaigns and events. Happiness and wellbeing at work has been discussed increasingly in the last few years, becoming the focus of many conference and talks, both within and across businesses.
A recent article by the Guardian discussed the increasing impact of company culture on happiness and while searching for a new job in the summer of 2016, I knew that a positive working culture was just as important to me as the role and industry. I was delighted to discover Steps, a company that stood out from the crowd in this respect. It was clear from researching the company that Steps’ ethos incorporated staff engagement and wellbeing, and the interview process went on to confirm their friendly and welcoming environment.
With so much of our life spent in the office and commuting to work, I believe it is essential for organisations to ensure that their workforce are considered and cared for. Not only does this benefit staff productivity, performance quality and professional relationships but it also increases job satisfaction, reduces stress and puts an emphasis on the wellbeing of each individual.
At Steps, a team of colleagues from various roles known collectively as the ‘Ministry of Happiness’, works together to come up with ideas that encourage wellness and happiness in the office. Eager to get stuck in, I signed up to the team and over the last six months we have driven various happiness-encouraging ventures.
Sometimes it’s the little things that brighten up our week – and one of our initiatives is ‘Hump Day Happiness’. Every other Wednesday, we take it in turns to bring about all kinds of happiness, to help us over that midweek hump. So far we have had homemade curries brought into the office, comfy slipper days, lunchtime quizzes and music playlists to name but a few! The great thing about these little bursts of happiness is that everyone can get involved and share something that they love, offering a diverse range of goodies and new experiences every fortnight.
We’ve also explored the more serious side of happiness using the skills readily available in the office. Allen, one of our Project Managers, recently ran a FunShop – an hour-long workshop which shared tools for positive thinking, a little bit of the science behind what makes us feel happy, and activities focussing on how a cheery outlook can have a constructive impact on our daily approach to work and life. We also ensure our happiness isn’t all focused within the office, with the Ministry of Happiness organising company involvement in charity events – from taking part in a Save The Children Christmas Jumper Day to putting together a team for the quiz run by our CSR partners, the London Bubble.
A vital part of encouraging happiness and wellbeing at work is allowing staff to get to know each other outside of the 9-5 and so the Ministry of Happiness also arranges social events. These outings help to strengthen how we communicate with each other and as an organisation, as well as building those personal relationships which are so important to the community feel of our business.
Being mindful and aware of staff happiness is extremely important for morale, and it is something that can easily be integrated into the everyday culture of a company. Engaging and informing colleagues on ways in which to increase wellbeing in the office, as well as keeping resources and ideas on hand facilitates a much healthier working environment for everyone.
Steps has recognised the benefits and implemented these ideas in a positive way – long may the Ministry of Happiness continue!