5 ways to make everyone at work happier

We asked Sarah-Jane Last, co-founder of CDP, for her essential tips for keeping workplaces happy in 2018.

If you’re struggling to keep the mood upbeat and positive in your workplace, then we’ve got the guide for you. People have made it through the lull of January and now’s the time to make changes that’ll improve the mood in your office and give everyone a much-needed boost throughout the year.

Here are the 5 top tips for workplace happiness from Sarah-Jane Last, co-founder of CDP Leadership Consultants.

1. Transparent and accountable leadership

One of my friends works at Tesla, and every single employee in the whole business has the mobile number of Elon Musk’s (co-founder and CEO of Tesla Inc.). If there’s a problem or if one department is putting up barriers, he’s like “call me and I’ll get it sorted.” So, if you say you’re going to do something, you need to do it. And you need to really listen to both the work and emotional needs of your employees. Because if their emotional needs aren’t being met, then they won’t do their best work.

2. Look after physical and mental health

There’s a brilliant book called Thinking, Fast and Slow. All the research says that if you sit someone in front of a computer for 8-10 hours a day, and that is their constant, they won’t be their most productive. Your brain needs different states to be productive. It might be the case that at 11 am, the entire office goes out for a walk. You need to really look after the physical and mental side of people, as well as their work side.

3. Start using the right recruitment practices

The worst predictor of whether someone will be good in their job is a traditional interview, but that’s how 80% of people are recruited. Some people might be great in interviews but turn out to be terrible at the actual job. And it’s all down to bias in hiring practices. Maybe you fancy them. Maybe they studied at Oxford and you’re in awe of them – there’s so much bias in our decision making – subconscious and otherwise. The best way to hire people is to get them to do a trial run where they actually do the job. Or there’s a new way – called team recruitment that they do in coffee chains. Your team takes responsibility for hiring people because ultimately, they’re the ones who are going to be working with them.

4. Random acts of kindness

Get the team to come up with these together. They don’t have to cost a thing. They’re cheap and break up the monotony and boredom that can damage people’s moods. It might be a really small thing, like a talking stick in meetings so everyone gets a go at talking. Or what if you let your team leave an hour early one Friday? You could even try something random every time so people have something to look forward to.

5. Respect differences

The most work I do is getting pework ople to understand that people aren’t great at everything. Just because Bob is great at spreadsheets, it doesn’t mean that Sheila will be. Really try to understand what your employees’ strength and development areas are. Once you do that, you can recruit on the parts that are missing. When people are working to their strengths, they’re so much more energised and in the flow.

And strengths are different to abilities. An ability is something you can do but it’s something you don’t get any joy or fulfilment from. A strength is very different. And you can do tests to work these out. Strengthscope is one of these – it’s a really good thing to do with your team, so you can understand stuff like, “Oh, that’s why Sarah’s great at doing new business because she looks at the big picture. But she’s not detail-orientated or conscientious so, why don’t we switch her with Barbara to do this specific task?” instead of expecting everyone to be a cookie cutter who does the same thing.

Want more advice from Sarah-Jane? Here’s her opinion on how to set your business up for a successful year with an upbeat and motivated workforce.