How to create a happy workplace

March 20, 2018

20 March marks the International Day of Happiness, which recognises the importance of happiness in the lives of people across the globe.


This year’s theme is ‘Share Happiness’, focusing on the role of relationships, kindness and helping each other.

Although there is no one key driver of happiness, Robert Half has identified five key ways to bring positivity back to the workplace that can help to increase the productivity of the workforce by ensuring employees feel valued and recognised for their efforts:


1. Greet co-workers with a smile

research paper published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology noted that connecting with others, even strangers, increases personal happiness. With this in mind, a great way to set the tone for International Day of Happiness is by greeting colleagues in the morning. Go beyond the normal circle, and offer a hearty “good morning” to the office support and reception team, the shy office junior, or the executive sharing a lift ride, to extend the feel good factor across the organisation.


2. Praise the efforts of colleagues

Positive feedback puts a spring in anyone’s step but in a time-poor working day, praise may be scrimped on, often to the detriment of employee happiness.

Taking a few minutes to offer glowing feedback doesn’t just boost happiness, it can also have a positive impact on productivity. The same US research found 40% of workers would put more energy into their work if their contribution was recognised more frequently. Chances are, a simple “thank you for doing a great job” could go a long way to elevating happiness, fulfilment and enthusiasm among employees.


3. Surprise with kindness

Random acts of kindness offer a two-for-one benefit. According to the Harvard Business School, a person extending a hand of kindness feels happier, while the recipient feels an uptick in joy too.  Share the goodwill on International Day of Happiness with unexpected gestures of kindness. Pick up a surprise latte for a colleague on the way to work, help a co-worker complete a project on time, or lend a hand to fix a paper jam instead of turning a blind eye to the struggles going on in the photocopying bay.


4. Host a happiness event

Nothing can dull the happiness factor faster than a boring routine. This year, celebrate International Day of Happiness with a dedicated workplace event in honour of happiness. A special morning tea, a lunch or even a celebratory dinner doesn’t just break routine – it’s an opportunity to share the virtues of being happy across an entire department or even the whole organisation.


5. Make the world a better place

Giving has a way of making people feel good. Harvard University confirmed this with research showing that donating to charity has a direct link to personal happiness. This makes it worth celebrating International Day of Happiness by combining efforts into corporate social responsibility. Instead of simply passing around a bucket for a coin drop, aim to make it an inclusive, fun-filled event. Try selling cakes home-baked by the accounts team accompanied by tea or coffee prepared by the sales crew, to let everyone feel part of the action.


Enjoy lasting benefits from International Day of Happiness

One of the big pluses of happiness, is that like laughter, it can be contagious. Don’t be surprised if any ‘happy’ initiatives introduced will extend beyond the 24 hours of International Day of Happiness. As a corporate happiness ambassador, an organisation can have a direct and lasting impact on the satisfaction, meaning and joy that the entire staff gain from their work environment.


About the author

Matt Weston is Managing Director at Robert Half UK. Robert Half is a specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. Founded in 1948, the company has over 325 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, creative and administrative professionals. and

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