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The International Week of Happiness at Work

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During the last week of September, from the 21st to the 27th, companies and individuals around the globe are invited to celebrate the International Week of Happiness at Work for the third time. The event was created to promote happiness at work around the globe and runs in September as post-summer break is an excellent time to review how we work, and specifically, our happiness at work.

Maartje Wolff of Happy Office and Isobel Colson, The Get Going Coach at Happy Coffee Consulting, spoke to InfoQ about the intent behind the International Week of Happiness and why it matters.

According to Wolff, happiness at work is not fluffy:

Happiness at work might sound fluffy, but there is overwhelming evidence that it is good for both individuals and the bottom line. Science shows that happy coworkers have a huge advantage over unhappy ones. They are more productive, flexible and creative; they provide better services to you customers and work better with their colleagues. When people are happy at work, they are better parents, friends and neighbours. They are more likely to give to charity and to do volunteering work and so on. The benefits of happiness at work that start in your business, have the potential to ripple out in to the wider world. There is a growing global movement of companies and individuals who are seeing the value to their organisations.

She went on to explain why happiness at work is so important in the current climate:

Happiness at work isn’t just important, it’s more important than ever. All the elements that create happiness at work are what we need, to help team members to thrive and work productively at this moment of intense insecurity. The very survival of your organisation may depend on the capabilities of your team members. Simply piling more pressure onto individuals already anxious and stressed by the current situation may not have the desired outcome. Research also shows that happier employees are more resilient and productive, so it is worth focusing on creating the right environment.

Colsen made some suggestions about how organisations can get involved with the International Week of Happiness at Work (IWOHAW). IWOHAW is designed to get people thinking about ways to increase happiness and take action to do so. Companies and individuals are encouraged to organise their own events. She says:

In addition to attending the hosted events and activities, we hope that you will be inspired to organise your own events. The IWOHAW is also a Do-It-Yourself movement. The aim is for companies to organise their own Week of Happiness at Work to coincide with the international one. This week has become an integral part of the calendar for many companies. Happiness at work becomes embedded through small rituals, interventions, processes and behaviour. The website for the International Week of Happiness at Work contains lots of ideas about how to get started, plus what is going on in your country.

Examples of do-it-yourself events include:

  • Invite an expert to give an inspirational talk over lunch and discuss what you can do.
  • Organise a discussion about what makes you happy at work with colleagues.
  • Talk to management about what they can do to make this a happier workplace.
  • Start an initiative to give more positive feedback.
  • Play a game to get to know each other better, like Personality Poker or the Choose Happiness at Work game.
  • Organize drinks with your colleagues or have lunch together (not at your desk!).
  • Talk about your organisational culture and how you can make changes.
  • Write your team happiness manifesto.
  • Take up a Happiness at Work challenge during the International Week of Happiness at Work.

The business value of happiness at work has been recognised and called out more frequently in the business press recently, according to Sue Langley in a recent post on Happiness at work: The ROI of happy workplaces and employees:

For example micro interventions that develop psychological resources by increasing hope, optimism, confidence and resilience have been estimated to reap annual returns of (conservatively) 2%, realising $585 million in revenue in the average mid-sized business, and far higher value in retention of A-list employees.

The Global Online Happiness at Work Summit runs from 21 to 25 September as a series of live online events.

The IWOHAW website has a Manifesto for Happiness at Work that individuals can sign on to.

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