Mystery Solved: The Secret to Workplace Happiness

Building workplace happiness is simpler than you think!Workplace happiness is more than just a feeling or a practice – it’s a science! As we learn more about traditional psychology and social trends, we gain better understandings of the science of happiness and how to apply it both in and outside of the workplace.

Luckily, it’s moving in a positive direction!

THINGS ARE LOOKING UP: WORKPLACE HAPPINESS AND POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY

According to Happify.com article, “What is the Science of Happiness,”

“For centuries, the field of psychology focused on addressing the negative—investigating what was “wrong” with us, or relieving suffering from depression, trauma, and addictions. But over the last decade, we’ve seen a significant shift: Scientists are now turning their attention to what makes people thrive.”

Rather than focusing on how to prevent unhappiness, this positive psychology focuses on the thoughts, actions, and behaviors that build fulfillment, productivity, and happiness. The study of these habits is, simply, the science of happiness. And it applies to workplace happiness, too!

So what’s the point? What is the goal of happiness science? According to psychology professor Dr. Martin Seligman, the goal is, “to investigate what makes us flourish.”

“Positive psychology doesn’t turn a blink eye to suffering or psychological illness,” offers the Happify.com article, “but it does encourage individuals and even communities to adopt practices that can boost optimism, increase resilience, and live happy, engaged lives.”

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5 Simple Ways to Boost Workplace Happiness

Workplace happiness is just steps away!Work-life balance isn’t always easy. Stress, miscommunication, and unexpected life circumstances can chip away at our sense of satisfaction both in and outside of work.

But as we’ve learned, happiness isn’t merely a feeling; it’s a science, a choice, and a lifestyle! A simple habit makes a big difference. Boost your employees’ happiness at work and at home by sharing these 5 simple tools: Savor, Thank, Aspire, Give, and Empathize. Remember, living by example makes a big difference! If your employees notice you taking advantage of these habits, they’ll be inclined to join in, too.

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5 Reasons to Celebrate Administrative Professionals Day!

Join gThankYou! and celebrate Administrative Professionals Day!

Happy smiles at last year’s Administrative Professionals Day Breakfast at Fort Valley State University in Georgia. (Via FVSU, Flickr)

Happy Administrative Professionals Day!

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the secretaries, admins, executive assistants, office managers, receptionists and other support staff who keep organizations running smoothly.

There isn’t much glory in administrative work, but it’s essential to organizations.

In celebration of Administrative Professionals Day, we’re sending out a big “Thank You!” to admins everywhere. Read on for five reasons admin employees are awesome — in ways you might not realize — and why they deserve your deepest gratitude on Administrative Professionals Day (and every day).

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Build Workplace Camaraderie on Earth Day!

Build workplace camaraderie by celebrating Earth Day and Arbor Day as a team!

Build workplace camaraderie this week by celebrating Earth Day or Arbor Day with a volunteer project. (Photo via PSNH, Flickr)

Workplace camaraderie depends on the shared attitude among employees that “we’re in this together.” This attitude is a major building block in the creation of a thriving, happy and engaged workplace culture.

This week offers two of the best holidays of the year for building workplace camaraderie.

This week, celebrate Earth Day (Wednesday, April 22) and National Arbor Day (Friday, April 24). Your local Arbor Day date may differ based on the best local tree-planting times. Check the Arbor Day Foundation’s guide to regional Arbor Days dates across the U.S.

Earth Day and Arbor Day are unique holidays. They focus on celebrating by working together for a better environment and healthier planet.

These are the holidays when we roll up our sleeves and get to work: planting trees, cleaning up litter, helping with a meadow restoration, recycling electronic waste, getting educated and educating others, and other activities that make the natural world around us more enjoyable.

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How to Tell If Your Workplace is Too Stressed

Workplace stress putting you on edge?

Is Workplace Stress Putting You on Edge? Photo via Elmira Strange, Flickr

Every workplace gets stressed from time to time, whether due to tight deadlines, unexpected hurdles, or tight staffing. But how can you tell if workplace stress is to the point where it affects people’s health and productivity?

April is National Stress Awareness Month  and the perfect time to identify the stress level and health of your workplace.

Assessing Your Workplace Stress Level

The Better Health Channel lists symptoms of work-related stress including depression, anxiety, drop in work performance, fatigue, headaches, feelings of being overwhelmed and an increase in sick days or absenteeism.

“Companies and employers should recognize workplace stress as a significant health and safety issue,” it says.

According to Cornerstone OnDemand article, “Point Break: The Challenge of Training Staff to Deal with Stress,” the best stress management trick means determining when employees’ workloads go from challenging to unmanageable.

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HR, Are You Prepared for the Workplace of the Future?

What workplace trends await?“How prepared are you, your company and your talent to drive performance in the face of impending change?”
-Aon Hewitt, “2014 Trends in Global Employee Engagement

A number of forward-thinking organizations are researching that very question. What upcoming workplace trends can we expect, and how will they affect talent management, HR’s role, and the workplace of the future?

Trends Driving the Workplace of the Future:

“next” practices

Executive Development firm Future Workplace launched the 2020 Workplace Network, a group of 45 companies that meets twice a year to discuss, debate and share “next” practices on preparing for the 2020 workplace.

Jeanne Meister is a founding partner – follow her Forbes blog here. You might also consider checking the network’s 2020 Workplace blog which includes thought-provoking posts about attracting, developing, and retaining talent in a disruptive world.

Impact of millennials

As the Aon report notes, Millennial workers’ cohort size makes them highly influential regarding “non-negotiable expectations in a work environment” such as flexibility, rapid career movement, professional development, and transparency. Each of these factors affect the way companies must engage workers.

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Plan Ahead for Administrative Professionals Day

Employee recognition done right on Administrative Professionals Day!

Administrative Professionals Day is Wednesday, April 22. (Creative Commons photo via highwaysagency, Flickr)

Plan your recognition now for Administrative Professionals Day — next Wednesday, April 22 — and send a clear message to your admin staff that their work is not only crucial to your operation, but appreciated.

They deserve your recognition now more than ever.

Administrative professionals in today’s workplace are swamped with responsibilities, according to a recent Staples survey.

According to the New York Times article “Assistants, Yes, But They Can Do It All,” the digital era puts administrative professionals at the front-line of new technology adoption and synthesizing large amounts of information.

Read on to learn more about the rapidly-changing role of support staff and the best ways to communicate your gratitude on Administrative Professionals Day.

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Workplace Trends Driving Employee Engagement 2020

Learn Workplace Trends Driving Employee Engagement 2020

Photo via 2020spaces.com

The latest workplace trends point to a radically different marketplace in the next five to 10 years.

For instance, here’s a headline you probably wouldn’t have expected to see a decade ago: “B2B eCommerce Market Worth $6.7 Trillion by 2020: Alibaba & China the Front-Runners.”

China is poised to dominate the business-to-business (B2B) market, and Alibaba—its predominate eCommerce site—is already bigger than Amazon.

That’s just one marketplace shift among many that will change the workforce itself and how we engage employees in the coming years. In “What Are The Biggest 21st Century Workplace Challenges?” Barbara Mitchell, co-author of The Essential HR Handbook, writes:

“The workplace has changed significantly in this new century, and the pace of change isn’t slowing down. We have moved into a global economy in which events and actions in formerly remote parts of the world have a real impact on U.S. business. We’ve moved into the knowledge economy, too: The service industry has replaced manufacturing as the core U.S. enterprise.”

A Cisco whitepaper, “Transitioning to Workforce 2020,” advises understanding trends that will “radically transform working life” in the near future. Organizations that don’t adapt risk extinction, it says. Here are some of the primary 2020 workplace trends the report identifies.

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How to Make Forbes’ Best Employers 2016 List

Forbes Best Employers 2015 - New York Fire Department

Employee happiness grows in a culture of appreciation. Congrats to the Fire Dept. of New York who ranked 17th out of 500 in Forbes’ Best Employers 2015. (Photo via Johan Lange, Flickr)

If cultivating employee happiness came easily, there would be no need for Forbes’ first-ever ranking of America’s Best Employers.

But employee happiness (and retention) is a top challenge now, and starting this year Forbes is recognizing those who successfully rise to it.

The magazine released its Best Employers 2015 list in late March and has been analyzing and explaining the results in-depth since then.

Want your company to make the 2016 list? Read on for insights from the 2015 list that illuminate the future of employee happiness and what HR departments need to know to cultivate it.

It’s important to note that the Best Employers list is limited to companies with head counts of 2,500 or more, but Forbes has a separate annual survey later in the year of America’s Best Small Companies — so all employers have equal opportunity for recognition.

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Want Happy Employees? Challenge Them

happy employees

Photo via Eversheds International, Flickr

Happy employees work harder, are more productive, and healthier, studies show. And, perhaps surprisingly, if you want happy employees, you should ask them to work even harder. Not more hours, but more challenging projects or tasks.

In “The Science Behind the Smile,” Harvard Business Review‘s (HBR) Gardiner Morse talks with Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert, best-selling author of Stumbling on Happiness.

For Happy employees: challenge, don’t threaten

Morse: Many managers would say that contented people aren’t the most productive employees, so you want to keep people a little uncomfortable, maybe a little anxious, about their jobs.

Gilbert: Managers who collect data instead of relying on intuition don’t say that. I know of no data showing that anxious, fearful employees are more creative or productive. Remember, contentment doesn’t mean sitting and staring at the wall. That’s what people do when they’re bored, and people hate being bored. We know that people are happiest when they’re appropriately challenged—when they’re trying to achieve goals that are difficult but not out of reach.

Challenge and threat are not the same thing. People blossom when challenged and wither when threatened. Sure, you can get results from threats: Tell someone, ‘If you don’t get this to me by Friday, you’re fired,’ and you’ll probably have it by Friday. But you’ll also have an employee who will thereafter do his best to undermine you, who will feel no loyalty to the organization, and who will never do more than he must.

It would be much more effective to tell your employee, ‘I don’t think most people could get this done by Friday. But I have full faith and confidence that you can. And it’s hugely important to the entire team.’ Psychologists have studied reward and punishment for a century, and the bottom line is perfectly clear: Reward works better.”

In fact, a Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey, “Job Security Is No Longer Top Driver of Satisfaction,”  indicates that “the opportunity to use skills and abilities” has displaced “job security” as the top driver of satisfaction. Liz Wiseman, president of The Wiseman Group, cites that finding in an HBR article, “An Easy Way to Make Your Employees Happier.”

Using skills and abilities “consistently ranks among the top two, regardless of a respondents’ tenure, age, gender, or organization staff size,” she notes, and her reasearch for the book Rookie Smarts confirms the finding.

“Employees don’t just want their skills used; they want them stretched,” she writes.

Her team asked roughly 1,000 people from various industries to rate the level of challenge in their jobs and their level of satisfaction, and they found a strong correlation between the two.  As challenge level goes up, so does satisfaction.

“Upon further investigation, we discovered that people who had received a challenging assignment, in general, figured it out within three months and were ready for the next one.  Respondents needed 12 months, on average, to begin to feel ready for a new role, and they started to feel stale after only 24 months, on average.”

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