As with anything, there are statistics to prove that happiness is a good idea. According to a study undertaken by the University of Warwick, happiness makes people 12% more productive, and further research has shown that companies with happy employees outperform the competition by 20%. Any online search reveals a giddy list of delicious facts that make happiness the new check box for the business. It is also one which the South African business really needs to pay attention to – the latest Happy Planet Index put South Africa at 128th position out of 140 countries, making it one of the unhappiest countries in the world.
That stat does factor in the staggering inequalities in the country, but also shows how important a happy business is for anyone looking to get the most from their employees. If your people are miserable and demotivated, then they are unlikely to make anyone feel fantastic about your business. It’s a sad cycle of minimal motivation and apathy. It can, fortunately, be fixed…
Deirdre Elphick-Moore, The Office Coach, says, “Achieving happiness at work can be challenging and you may need to initiate a new way of thinking among those who manage people in your workplace. Some simple steps can be to start with a smile, to have some fun and to look for things which you are grateful for in your business.”
Another expert in human behaviour, Dr John Demartini, adds: “To have your employees become more inspired with their work, consider their individual values or priorities. If you want peak performance and productivity consistently, then it is wise to make sure you know what their highest values are and how to allocate job duties accordingly. “
Some organisations in South Africa have already paid attention to the happiness factor. They know that giving out the grins is as important as ensuring their people’s personal needs are catered to. One of these is Tribeca PR, an agency based in Johannesburg with a commitment to Yay Days and recently recognised as one of the Best Agencies to Work For in the 2016 Holmes Report.
“We allocate budget every month to our Yay Days,” explains Tribeca co-owner Cian Mac Eochaidh. “Each of the teams is responsible for two a year and can organise anything which makes for a fun day out. The days are meant to encourage time together, away from our desks, and play a huge role in building the culture here at Tribeca.”
At Mark1 Media someone paid attention to another tasty statistic which found that 67% of full time employees with access to free food are extremely happy with their jobs. At this media company there is free breakfast for everyone in the office, plus extra mural sports team and fitness incentives – probably to work off the breakfasts.
Another company which deserves a happy nod is CN&CO, is a lifestyle business which lives its value proposition from the ground up. The company has some very interesting ideas as to what constitutes happiness and how to provide it.
“Happiness isn’t people smiling, it’s about their being fulfilled and this is what our values are aligned to,” says Gabriella Brondani-Rego, co-founder and head of PR at CN&CO. “We have no formal leave policy – our teams take time off when they need it, as long as the work is done and deadlines are met. We encourage travel as it opens the mind and inspires creativity. We let people choose when they can work too, as each person has their own preferences.”
Finally, there is redPanda Software which has drums in the office and hoverboards. For anyone with an inch of geek in their bones, this is possibly the ultimate benefit for a happy working day. And that’s not all, they also have Thai Chi classes, an art room, a project station currently building an R2D2 replica, and a bonsai garden.
“Walking is so last year,” says Carl Job, Software Support Manger of redPanda Software. “There is no better feeling than gliding through the office to have a quick follow up on a query. It’s also fun.”