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Maartje & Fennande of Happy Office on Creating a Culture of Happiness at Work

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In this podcast, recorded at the Agile India 2019 conference, Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Maartje Wolff and Fennande van der Meulen.

Key Takeaways

  • If you want to transform organisations and make them future-proof, then happiness is crucial to success because happy people get better outcomes
  • When people feel they have a meaningful job that contributes to meaningful results, feel connected to their colleagues and are able to have fun at work they are more engaged which gives better results for the individuals and for the company 
  • The drivers for happiness are different for each person – there is no single recipe that can be applied to every organisation
  • Happy companies have formulated their purpose very clearly and have translated that purpose to values and linked those values to behaviours 
  • The four pillars of a happy workplace are:
    • Purpose – having a meaningful job
    • People – feeling connected, belonging to the group
    • Progress – making progress towards meaningful goals is the best motivator at work
    • Play – being able to have fun at work

Show Notes

  • 00:29 Introductions
  • 00:42 Helping people in organisations create a happier work culture
  • 01:08 Happiness is serious business – if you want to transform organisations and make them future proof then happiness is an important component
  • 01:34 There are many advantages to focusing on a happy work culture
  • 02:00 When you focus on happiness you start with the employee in mind – making people better in all aspects of their lives
  • 02:19 Identifying what happiness at work feels like – you look forward to being with your colleagues and doing your work, and are satisfied at the end of the day
  • 03:08 Having a happy environment engages people more effectively at work
  • 03:24 When people feel they have a meaningful job that contributes to meaningful results, feel connected to their colleagues and are able to have fun at work they are more engaged which gives better results for the individuals and for the company
  • 03:59 The need to put the topic of happiness on the agenda – have the right conversations to start with
  • 04:12 It starts with asking the right questions of the teams and individuals and them asking the questions of each other
  • 04:23 Improving connections between people can contribute to happiness
  • 04:48 Acknowledge and celebrate small steps
  • 04:57 Allow people autonomy to chose how to do things
  • 05:16 Start with asking people “what makes you happy at work, what engages you, what is blocking your happiness, what can I do to help you?” 
  • 05:31 The drivers for happiness are different for each person – there is no single recipe that can be applied to every organisation
  • 05:42 Give people the autonomy and the space to work on their own happiness, facilitate a safe environment in which people feel challenged and where they feel they can be themselves  
  • 06:13 People must think about it themselves and they must act themselves – it can’t be imposed from above; it needs to be enabled to emerge
  • 06:21 People need to choose to be happy, the organisation can’t do that for them
  • 06:32 Enable a culture where people want to be engaged and happy
  • 06:51 A happy culture is a place where you can have conversations about what is meaningful to you, where you can show your emotions and engage with your colleagues in meaningful ways
  • 07:15 Meaning, working towards a higher purpose, autonomy
  • 07:38 It can be difficult for people to identify what makes them happy, so asking about “the best work experience you’ve ever had” is one way to start the conversation
  • 07:58 Having these conversations in a team enables the team members to explore how they want to improve, how they can enhance their happiness at work
  • 08:11 If you want to be happy you have to do things that make you happy – it takes positive action
  • 08:22 Happy companies have formulated their purpose very clearly and have translated that purpose to values and linked those values to behaviours
  • 09:02 An example of how this has been done at Tony Schocoloney
  • 10:19 Purpose, values and behaviours combine to create culture 
  • 10:22 Behavioural change is difficult
  • 10:35 If you want to change something you need to make the pathway to change clear and help people understand the brain science elements as well
  • 11:07 The four pillars of a happy workplace are:
    • Purpose – having a meaningful job
    • People – feeling connected, belonging to the group
    • Progress – making progress towards meaningful goals is the best motivator at work
    • Play – having fun at work
  • 12:25 Consider the needs of the whole group when identifying fun activities
  • 12:33 Examples of how fun can be brought into the workplace easily
  • 13:06 Don’t take things too seriously at work
  • 13:48 Ways to enable happiness from the top down
  • 14:17 Happiness is a bottom-up choice – you can’t make someone else happy, they have to chose it for themselves
  • 14:23 Give yourself room to think about what makes you happy and what you want to do about it
  • 14:38 Describe what makes your day a good working experience
  • 14:48 You don’t need to be positive all the time, the ability to be honest and open about your emotions such as frustration and anger contributes to a happy environment
  • 15:16 The importance of psychological safety as a prerequisite for happiness
  • 15:28 Exploring what happens when psychological safety is not present
  • 15:43 Change starts with the individual – find opportunities to create pockets of safety and happiness and spread out from those
  • 16:05 Everybody is responsible for the psychological safety at work and as individuals we can influence the environment
  • 16:11 The need to challenge a lack of safety with management
  • 16:26 There is a lot that you can do within your circle of influence, but you have to be courageous
  • 16:44 The importance of having a thriving mindset
  • 16:50 Describing Dan Diamond’s work contrasting powerful/powerless and giver/taker mindsets
  • 17:19 The powerful giver is the thriving mindset and it makes you feel happier
  • 17:32 How this applies to the conversations in a team about psychological safety
  • 17:53 Happiness is not about being in your comfort zone – step out of your comfort zone, learn from that and then move on
  • 18:11 Some people chose to stay in their comfort zone and that is their choice – you can’t make someone else change
  • 18:28 The organisation can create the space for the conversation to start, and people chose to opt-in or out for themselves, all the organisation can do is make the offer and enable the conversations

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