Today is the 20th of March and thousands of people all around the world are taking action to support the International Day of Happiness. In 2011, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted a resolution which identified happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all people”. Following the first ever UN conference on ‘happiness’ which took place in 2012, the International Day of Happiness was celebrated for the first time in 2013.
Four years on and all 193 UN member states have adopted a resolution providing for happiness to be given a greater priority… but as an employer are you doing enough to promote a happy and healthy workplace?
Research currently indicates that not all employers are succeeding in prioritising or promoting happiness in the workplace with a third of employees in the UK admitting to being miserable at work. Not surprisingly, the implications of this for any employer are huge not only because a disengaged and miserable employee is more likely to ‘walk’ away from the business but a disengaged employee can also cost a business over £3k annually in lost productivity, sick leave, training and recruitment.
Therefore, it is clear that employers must “raise their game” to make a happier and healthier workplace but what exactly can you do?
Businesses that make work fun have higher levels of productivity and profit, say leading psychologists and employment experts. So what makes work fun?
Think about allowing your employees to wear casual clothes (dress down Friday), provide “‘play zones” and comfortable areas for employees to sit and mingle, offer Xbox games, karaoke or even well-being massage days!
On the other hand, fun doesn’t have to cost a lot and it could simply be laughing with colleagues, encouraging friendships in the workplace, celebrating office birthdays or arranging nights out or team building events. Studies have shown that not only do happy people work harder but employees who have fun at work are likely to take fewer sick days than those who have not experienced work place fun.
As well as introducing fun into the work place, it is vital that employers ensure that their staff work reasonable hours and take regular breaks. Research shows that employee stress levels are rising which only further highlights the importance of promoting a positive and happy workplace.
Stress is clearly a complex workplace issue and could result in an employee bringing claims for personal injury, breach of contract, unfair dismissal (if the employee has been signed off work sick with stress and is dismissed as a result), disability discrimination or harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
This being said, while lives outside of work can of course lead to stress, it is possible for employers to mitigate the associated risks of an employee complaining of work related stress by promoting a happy and health workplace. Employers should also consider implementing an anti-stress policy which explains what steps will be taken to monitor and reduce the effect of stress at work. However, it is important to note that an anti-stress policy should only be part of an employer’s approach to dealing with work place stress.
So today, on the International Day of Happiness, you may want to consider just how happy are your employees?