The ideal workplace is a positive, stimulating environment which contributes to the happiness of the workforce, and it seems obvious that it is important for any company to have happy employees – but time and time again excessive workloads and tight deadlines, combined with lack of clear goals and minimal leadership support, result in high stress levels and disengagement of employees, which inevitably leads to poor performance and low productivity.
A study earlier this year found that “43% of the UK workforce experience work related stress to some degree more than half of the time, with 30% saying that their productivity has suffered as a result of work-related stress” . Additionally, research by The London School of Business and Finance suggests that 47% of people working in the UK want to change jobs . So we consulted Kedge Martin of Longbow Future for her top tips on being happy in the workplace.
Kedge told us: “Increased stress not only affects work performance but it can also have a huge impact on our personal lives, leading many employees to start looking for other roles that are more rewarding. This is particularly evident in the millennial generation who are not afraid to delve into a new professional field in search of a working environment that is rewarding and suits their lifestyle and which can offer flexible working hours, higher pay, career development and managerial support.”
Here are Kedge’s top tips for achieving workplace happiness:
‘Find a job that you’ll love and you’ll never work a day in your life,’ Confucius. The wisdom of the Chinese philosopher from 2,500 years ago remains true to this day. We play to our strengths when we find a role and environment that is congruent to who we are.
Take personal responsibility for your role, know where you’re going; have clear goals and measure progress. And if you’re not sure, much better to ask than be going down a wrong track. And do more than is required.
Ideally chose a work environment that is pleasant but if not, you can still create a pleasant environment within your own personal workspace with photos, a small green plant etc.
Drink lots of water throughout the day. Dehydration causes shrinkage of brain tissue, so when we haven’t been drinking enough water, our brains have to work a lot harder to perform at the same level and remain alert.
Take time out – even if you’re up against deadlines. Just having a five minute walk outside or five minutes sitting in a quiet space either listening to some music you love or practicing mindfulness, has such a restorative effect on your brain and replenishes your energy. Your effectiveness after a break more than makes up for the time away from your desk.
Look away from your computer screen – our eyes were not designed for what a typical workday looks like now.
Develop your own communication and listening skills and be helpful to others. It is estimated that 70% of mistakes at work are due to miscommunication. Don’t engage in office politics or gossip but do try to find a like-minded friend with whom you can have a laugh.
- Avoid distractions, whether that be email or mobile alerts. As research has shown  these interruptions, even if the phone is face down and simply reverberates can distract us from what we’re doing, prompt irrelevant thoughts or mind wandering which impacts our performance. And we can then get frustrated which creates a further barrier to effectiveness.
- Know that being happy is your choice. As Francesca Reigler said ‘Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same’ Be grateful even for the things you don’t immediately see as good; you will learn something even from bad experiences. Don’t fall into useless thoughts or water your weeds.
- Have a plan and take responsibility for your own personal development and career goals. Address any issues with your boss or colleagues so that resentments or misunderstandings do not fester and build up. Proactively ask for honest feedback and get a coach to help you continuously develop and be the best you can be.
- Kedge Martin is Founder and CEO of Longbow Future and co-Founder of Longbow NXG, and an executive coach and personal mentor. Longbow is a values-based training and coaching business focusing on emotional wellbeing, decision making, building resilience, improving performance and satisfaction with individuals and business. For more information on our one to one coaching, skills assessments, development workshops and in house programmes, please visit www.longbowfuture.com