Video: How to keep your workplace happy despite COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken workplaces in so many ways. Remote work, social distancing, and staying home is the new normal. Companies are affected, and many of them switched to “survival mode”, trying to keep their business afloat.

In the video above I talk to to visionary CEOs about how they handled the COVID-19 crisis and how to maintain your company culture and keep your employees happy in spite of COVID-19:

If you want more information on Menlo Innovation you should read Rich’s book Joy Inc. Sasa hasn’t written a book yet, but he mentions using Heartcount to measure workplace happiness and check in with employees and you can read all about it here. You can even try it free for 3 months in your organization.

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Get free tools to keep your workplace happy in spite of COVD-19

I’m taking a brief break from my sabbatical to offer some free tools to workplaces who want to keep their employees happy despite COVID-19.

Here’s what we’ve got so far:

And if you’ve been spending some of your lockdown watching The Last Dance (like I did), make sure you don’t take the wrong lessons from it.

Free webinar June 11: How to keep your workplace happy in spite of COVID-19

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world in so many ways. Remote work, social distancing, and staying home is the new normal. Businesses are affected, and many of them switched to the “survival mode”, trying to keep their business afloat.

During our Webinar, we will talk about the COVID-19 crisis, in what ways it affected businesses worldwide, but also how to maintain your company culture and keep your employees happy in spite of COVID-19.

In this webinar I will talk to the CEOs of two very happy and very innovative organizations and get their best tips:

Meet us online June 11 at 3 PM CEST (9 AM EDT)!

Sign up here – it is of course free :)

There are two cool new features in Heartcount

Heartcount has just added two great new features.

If you’re not already using Heartcount, it is the simplest tool out there for measuring happiness at work – no apps to install, no logins to remember, no nothing. Here’s how it works:

  1. Every Friday, employees get an email with 3 simple questions about their week. They respond to those questions directly in the email – that takes about 30 seconds.
  2. All employees can then immediately see how happy their team or the entire company is and management/HR can immediately access the data and act on any problems or wins right away.

Here’s our article on why this is much better than the traditional annual job satisfaction surveys.

The two new features we’ve just added give employees the chance to give feedback to each other and to management.

Praise your coworkers

Every Friday when you fill out your three questions for the week, you’re also prompted to give positive feedback to your coworkers.

You can praise anyone for anything and that person will be notified that they got positive feedback. You can also see a page with all the positive feedback given.

Here’s an example from one organization that’s currently using this new feature:

I would like to praise my colleague Sladjana. I learned a lot from her in the previous period about communication, good practices on how to lead a team, giving feedback and sharing knowledge with my team and a lot more. Thank you for helping me to be better while doing my job!

I have previously written about how important positive feedback is at work and this is a great way to encourage and amplify it in a workplace.

Give feedback to management

Employees are also invited to give feedback to or ask questions of management. If they prefer, they can give this anonymously, providing people the freedom to air all concerns or criticisms.

Learn all about HeartCount and sign up for a demo here. Right now, your organization can try it free for three months.

Disclaimer: I am a cofounder/co-owner of HeartCount and the one who came up with the idea for it, based on all the frustrations I had with the “regular” way of measuring satisfaction.

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Happiness at work in the time of Corona – back to basics

COVID-19 is a massive challenge for workplaces all over the world as well as a massive challenge for employees’ private lives and mental health.

Knowing that unhappy/stressed employees are less productive and less innovative (right when we need everyone to contribute to solutions to these challenges) it becomes crucial for companies to figure out how to make their employees happy at work.

Paradoxically, many of the traditional perks and activities that companies use are currently impossible or irrelevant, including things like:

  • Office gyms
  • Fancy coffee machines
  • Workplace parties
  • Team-building events

So on the one hand it’s incredibly important to focus on employee happiness right now but on the other hand many of the traditional approaches are completely impractical.

If you’ve followed our work at all, you know that we’re critical of all of those perks listed above anyway. We argue that they make employees satisfied rather than happy and are therefore mostly a waste of time and money.

What do we do in that situation? We go back to basics and focus on the things that really make people happy at work: Results and relationships. I talk more about that in this video:

Results

We all want to get results. We all want to make a difference, know that our work is important, get appreciation and do work that we can be proud of.

One of our deepest psychological needs, is the need to control our environment. If we’re placed in a situation where we have no control, where nothing we do matters, we feel terrible. On the other hand, we love to make a difference. Accomplishment feels great. As Franklin D. Roosevelt put it:

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”

Relationships

We all need to feel valued as human beings and have a good connection with co-workers and managers or even to customers, suppliers, shareholders, and the organization’s wider community.

Relationships at work matter so much because we will be spending a lot of time with people at work. When you think about it, you’ll be spending more of your waking hours with them, than with your friends and family.

How do we do this

So this is the secret to happiness at work: Results and relationships – doing great work together with great people. This is what we must give our employees every single day.

Figuring out how to do this given current limitations is a crucial challenge. I’m not going to pretend that I have all the answers but here are some ideas that might work.

Online stand-up meetings

IT company Menlo Innovations start all work days with a brief stand-up meeting where all employees share what they’re working on today to check in and coordinate work. This meeting has now moved online and is still a crucial part of making sure that everyone knows what’s going on.

They recently shared how they have managed to create remote work days that almost feel like being in the office.

Online lunches

When everyone is in the office, connection happens automatically and randomly throughout the day. When people are working from home, you have to plan consciously to make them happen. One friend of mine works at an IT company where they have scheduled online lunch breaks where they can relax and chat together.

Check in with people

Similarly, when people are in the office, you can get a sense of how they’re doing. If someone seems worried or stressed you have a chance to notice and act on it. If you don’t see people for weeks at a time, this gets a lot harder, and you need a better way to check in with them. You can schedule regular brief meetings with each employee or you can use some online tool to measure your employees’ workplace happiness.

There are approximately a million different apps and tools for this out there – find one and try it. We are currently offering all workplaces a free 3-month trial of HeartCount which is (in our humble opinion) the best tool for measuring happiness at work. Sign up right here to try it in your workplace.

Online praise and recognition

Praise and recognition is crucial in the workplace but a lot harder to give when you don’t see people every day. Online systems can be a great alternative to let people praise each other and see what others are being recognized for.

Use online systems to highlight and communicate progress

Most work is being coordinated online already, but very often these systems are mostly used to communicate what we still need to do.

For instance: Do you have some kind of online todo list? What happens when you complete an item? In most systems, it disappears from the list and all you ever see is all the stuff you haven’t done.

I think we need to turn that around and use online systems to systematically highlight and overcommunicate our achievements and accomplishments.

What has worked for you?

What has your team or your workplace done that worked well? Please share your best ideas in a comment.

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Get my books (Happy Hour is 9 To 5 and Leading With Happiness) free of charge

Times are tough for for workplaces all over the world right now. I would like to share some of my tools in the hope that maybe it can help a little.

So I’m making my two main books available as pdf downloads free of charge for anyone who wants them. There’s also no annoying email signup required or anything – just click below to download either book.

Happy Hour is 9 To 5

“It’s very, very good. It’s incredibly well written, full of insights, and there are exercises to improve your own happiness at work. You can’t ask for more than that!”
– David Maister, author of Practice What You Preach

“I have read well over 100 articles/books on topics covering happiness in the workplace and your book was by far one of the best. In fact, it was so informative that I went on and sent the link to your book to my entire professional network.”
– Chris Hollins, President, talentgrade.com

This book clearly explains what happiness at work is (and isn’t) and what each of us can do to have work we love.

Click here to download Happy Hour Is 9 To 5.

Leading With Happiness

“What an inspiring book. Every leader should read it and learn how to promote happiness for employees, customers, suppliers, investors, and even the leader him- or herself. That type of leadership has been integral to our success and I know it will boost your results too.”
– Garry Ridge, CEO WD-40 Company

This book presents a simple but radical idea: The fundamental goal of any leader should be to increase happiness in the world. Leaders who don’t do that are doing it wrong.

Drawing on fascinating lessons from psychology, neurobiology and philosophy, the book demonstrates why leaders should put happiness first – for themselves, their employees, their customers, and the wider world – and why happy leaders are more successful.

Click here to download Leading With Happiness.

If you’d prefer to have either book as a kindle ebook or on paper (how old-school) they are available here and here.

10 simple questions to be happier at work in 2020

The beginning of a new year is a great time to take stock of your work life. Are you happy or unhappy at work? What would you like to change?

It’s important to evaluate, because how you feel at work has such a large influence on you at work AND at home. When you’re happy at work, you have better job performance and more career success. You also have better health and a happier private life.

Unfortunately most people look back and think exclusively in terms of what went wrong. The things they should have done. They goals they ought to have achieved. The progress that didn’t come.

We gain much of our happiness at work (and in life) by appreciating the good things we have and do. Sure, you should also make sure to improve your circumstances and address any problems but it is just as important to be able to appreciate the things that do work.

This is hard. Negativity bias is one of the most well-established psychological phenomena and it means quite simply that our minds devote more mental focus and cognition to the bad than the good. Our thoughts automatically go to problems, annoyances, threats and fears but remembering and appreciating the good in our lives takes effort and focus.

We think you can achieve much more by turning that around 180 degrees, so here’s our suggestion for a little new year’s exercise in happiness at work.

Think back at your work life in 2019 and answer the following 10 questions. It works best if you take some time to think about each question and if you write down your answers.

  1. What went really well for you at work in 2019?
  2. What did you do that you were proud of?
  3. Who did you make a difference for at work?
  4. What new skills have you learned professionally?
  5. How have you grown and developed personally at work?
  6. Who has helped you out at work in 2019?
  7. Who have you admired professionally?
  8. Which 5 things from your work life in 2019 would you like more of in 2020?
  9. Which 5 things from your work life in 2019 would you like less of in 2020?
  10. What will you specifically do to become happier at work in 2020?

Some people think that they must work hard to become successful – and that success will make them happy. The truth is the opposite: being happy makes you more effective and successful at work.

So this year, make happiness at work your #1 career goal – because being happy at work will make you more successful in your career.

And that may require some tough decisions. If you find that you’re just not happy at work, maybe it’s time to find a new job. Fortunately, International Quit Your Crappy Job Day is just around the corner.

I wish you a very happy new year at work!

Meet the newest certified Chief Happiness Officers

Our latest Chief Happiness Officer Academy was a huge hit with 18 engaged participants from 12 countries who are now ready to go out and make workplaces awesome.

The only thing that wasn’t great about the Academy was the Copenhagen winter weather, but that might be a good thing. One participant wrote this in LinkedIn afterwards:

“It’s been raining most of the last four days here in Copenhagen, which has probably been a blessing, because otherwise I might spontaneously combust from all the incredible energy that’s been generated at the Chief Happiness Officer Academy.”

We had a great time going through the latest research and best practices on happiness at work. We also had a fantastic visit to DHL Express Denmark, where their HR Manager Sarah Olsen gave a passionate tour and talk about their happy culture.

Here are some of my favorite pics from this Academy:

The BEST way to measure employee happiness

Measuring happiness at work is a great idea and every workplace should do it because:

  • It shows employees you care about them
  • It identifies problem areas and strong points in your culture
  • It shows you what exactly to do to make employees happier and more productive

In short, if you’re not effectively and reliably measuring happiness at work, you’re missing out on one of the most effective tools to create a happier culture.

Sadly, the way most organizations do it just doesn’t work, because they measure too rarely (typically once a year) with too many questions and fail to follow up on results quickly.

We desperately wanted to fix that, so we created HeartCount – a tool that measures employee happiness weekly with very few but very relevant questions so that the organization can follow up immediately on any issues.

It’s incredibly simple:

  • Every Friday all employees get an email with 3 questions about their week.
  • They reply to those questions directly in the email. No login, no apps, no additional hassles.
  • Employees see immediate results of their input and management/HR can immediately access the data and act on any problems or wins right away.

Learn all about HeartCount and sign up for a demo here.

Disclaimer: I am a cofounder/co-owner of HeartCount and the one who came up with the idea for it, based on all the frustrations I noticed with the “regular” way of measuring satisfaction.

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