MeetinVR is based in Denmark – a country that is known for ranking very high in the annual happiness reports. We designed and developed a tool that strengthens team cohesion, brings people together for work or leisure, and connects them because we believe that well-connected people are happier at work. Having a great set of collaboration tools is extremely important, especially now in times of remote and hybrid workforce. To gain more insights on happiness at work we invited an expert on the subject matter – Sarah Metcalfe to write a guest blog post. Sarah is a Chief Happiness Officer of Happy Coffee Consulting & Co-Lead at The Woohoo Partnership and has spent the last 10 years researching and training in Happiness at Work, Company Culture, Management, and Leadership.

In the time of this pandemic, it may seem flippant to talk about happiness at work. However, in a time when life as we know it is uncertain, providing our employees with psychological safety, a sense of well-being, and the ability to be happy at work is more important than ever.

Happy employees give much better service, which means customers are happier, stay longer and spend more – this is called the service profit chain and happiness at work is the first cog in the wheel. In short, happiness at work is good for the individual, the team, and the business. There is a wealth of evidence to show that companies that focus on employee wellbeing enjoy a significant return on that investment. At Happy Coffee Consulting, we believe the future of work is happy. We are passionate about helping organizations create happier workplaces and happier people. We believe that workplaces of the future will put employee happiness before profitability. 

“… But if we, as individuals, teams and organizations are going to bounce back, then our relationships and how we feel are more critical than ever. Resilience is the ability to adapt, to recover from setbacks. We need leaders to be thinking about how to maintain and protect employees’ wellbeing, team morale, and their organizations’ culture.“

Nic Marks, CEO & Founder of Friday Pulse. Statistician, Happiness expert, and TED speaker.

happy and productive

Happiness and productivity 

Employee engagement has long been seen as the golden standard to reach. But a recent Gallup study suggested that employee engagement is at an all-time low. As businesses, we are trying everything we can. We have free coffee, nap pods, free wifi, gym memberships, fruit bowls, job titles, bonuses, pay raises, and even smoothies constitute the many ways in which companies are trying to improve the lives of their employees.

What we have been told creates happiness at work, or employee engagement is wrong. When we tell employees we want them to be more engaged or productive, what they hear is that we as employers want to get more out of them, for less. 

However, if you flip to the other side of this coin and focus on employee happiness, this shows you care about the employee themselves. And the great bit about that? Engaged employees, and therefore more productive employees are actually an outcome of ensuring they are happier.

In 2018 there were $1.5 billion dollars spent on employee engagement initiatives, and employees around the world are less engaged than ever.

Numerous studies have found that happier employees are more productive. Cary Cooper from the University of Manchester found an 8.8% increase in productivity for every increase in employee well-being. Nic Marks has found an increase of 7.5% in productivity for every half-point increase on his 5 point scale of employee happiness at work.

The Greater Good Science Centre has the number even higher at 22% increase in productivity.

As one of my wonderful Woohoo Partners (Kasia Kern from Poland) said,  “Happiness is the only thing we have left. We should absolutely focus on it because it’s about culture, relationships, results, meaning. In the old times, we had free coffee, free fruit, nice offices, perks and benefits, even slides. But now happiness at work is what is left.”

Here are a few tips on creating a happier workplace.

Don’t go “back to normal“; move forward

We have all come to a strange new world, and we did it quickly and without thought. How many businesses did we hear pre-COVID say they could ”never work from home“. It just wouldn’t work for them. And then in under 2 weeks, their entire workforce was working from home – just fine. Use this as a time to fail fast and learn, to be agile. Implement things that scared you, trial a new management team, and do whatever you can to push decision-making down to the frontline staff.

Innovate the way you look after your people

Take advantage of the situation. Spend more time changing the way your organization runs – pivot from employee engagement to happiness at work – you’ll never look back, and you’ll get all the benefits including more engaged employees.

Schedule a Happy Coffee

We aren’t able to grab a coffee break at work with our colleagues anymore. The social connection (especially between teams – inter-team connection is better during COVID in many companies) of water-cooler moments, lunchtimes, and coffee breaks are no longer there for us. Ensure you create intentional space for people from different departments to interact and share experiences – scheduling a coffee breakout room at a specific time can help with this.

Give your people time

People are more overwhelmed than ever. Especially those who have had to juggle schooling, work, being ill, ill relatives, caring duties, and all the other items that are piling on to us during this time. Spending time caring for and listening to your employees is even more important than ever. I love the Gary Vaynerchuck question “How can I help you?”. Give it a try with your team.

Move your social events online

Taking time out to meetup, share good times is harder now – but not impossible. We’ve taken one of our stand-up meetings each week to play a game together – we have more laughter in that 20 minutes than we used to have during a normal day of work. We are using it to share each others’ cultures and learn more about each other. This is a great way to reconnect with each other and have fun at work.
NextJump always a frontrunner recently moved their entire summer meetup events online! Check out Charlie Kym’s tweets of the events – they even included a spicy Ramen eating contest!

In short, team members who are happy at work take fewer sick days, are less likely to leave for other jobs (even if the money is better), are more engaged, and give more discretionary effort. They are more likely to be interested in and actively working towards your business goals because they are motivated (as opposed to driven by fear) to do so. Where there is psychological safety, individuals are less stressed, more able to learn from their mistakes, and are more able to innovate. When individuals understand each other better, the interpersonal differences are less acute, they work better with teammates and with other teams and customers.

Note from the company:
If you wish to improve the way your team engages and connects with each other, consider meeting in VR. This modern collaboration medium will sparkle joy and excitement, as a consequence, the distributed team will feel like being together, connected, and happy.