3 Ways to Increase Employee Happiness and Well-being
The workforce has changed in many ways over the past year. Organizations learned how to adapt quickly to new norms and ways of working; they attempted to maintain strong personal connections as they worked virtually or in hybrid environments; they placed a higher priority on employee well-being. As a positive psychology practitioner with an interest in increasing well-being in the workplace, I am constantly being asked, “What can I do to make my employees happier right now?”
No matter how your organization is “coming back to work”—whether you are in-person, virtual, or a hybrid—here are three ideas (backed by research!) that may increase employee happiness, satisfaction, and well-being.
- Ditch the Zoom invite and opt for a walking meeting instead. Try going for a virtual walking meeting where you call in with audio only to discuss your agenda without having to look at or share screens. Spending time exercising in nature can boost the immune system and is associated with decreased anxiety and depression. Exercise can also improve mood, decrease stress, and improve cognitive functioning. If this isn’t an option for you and your team, invite everyone to an optional “walkin’ and talkin’” lunch break to casually catch up while enjoying a walk.
- Another simple strategy to improve employee well-being is to practice mindfulness as a team. Meditation is a form of mindfulness that can be easily incorporated into the first or last five minutes of a meeting. Mindfulness can increase attention and creative problem solving while also improving motivation, decision making, learning, memory, and empathy. Using free resources like Headspace or Mindfulness.com are great places to start. A little bit of mindfulness can go a long way!
- Facilitate and inspire random acts of kindness in the office. Treat your employees to a fun “surprise and delight” like a handwritten thank-you note, a voucher for a meal delivery service, or a gift card to a local coffee shop. A famous study found that happiness spreads among social networks — your random act of kindness may be paid forward to many other individuals. It is the ultimate gift that keeps on giving.
Increasing employee well-being doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive. There are many small ways to incorporate positive psychology into your workplace to foster happier and healthier employees. What other ideas and recommendations do you have?
Baime, M. (2019). Neuroscience review for medical students in Med 589: Mindfulness and Mind-Body Medicine. [Unpublished manuscript]. Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.
Fowler, J. H., & Christakis, N. A. (2008). Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: Longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study. British Medical Journal, 337, 1-9.
Ratey, J. J., & Manning, R. (2014). Go wild: Eat fat, run free, be social, and follow evolution’s other rules for total health and well-being. Little, Brown and Company.
Ratey, J. J. (2008). Spark: The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain. Little, Brown and Company.
Smalley, S. L. & Winston, D. (2010). Fully present: the science, art, and practice of mindfulness. Da Capo Press.
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