Updated: Aug 9, 2021
“Do what makes you happy and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
The adage is certainly true, but the reality is that it can’t be the case for all of us. Work can sometimes be, well, hard work. And the happiness has to come from other things. So, if you’re wondering where to look, here’s somewhere to start – with three great ways to boost happiness at the office.
More than half of Americans would consider themselves “dog people”, according to a report by National Geographic. (Almost one in five would prefer a dinosaur, but there’s no pleasing everyone.)
And why not? With a furry friend next to you while you work, you can break the norm of the day-to-day grind, enjoy some affection and even find an excuse to step out for an hour every day. If you don’t already have a dog or can’t commit to taking care of one, why not go and visit a dog-friendly co-working space? As the owner of two dogs, I’ve found that playing with them when working remotely can turn a stressful day into a happy one.
Not only are dogs great for improving happiness – they’re good for business too. Studies by AAHA have shown that 90% of employees in pet-friendly workplaces feel highly connected to their company’s mission, are fully engaged with their work and are willing to recommend their employer to others. That’s compared to less than 65% of employees in non-pet-friendly workplaces.
A word of warning you’re probably already aware of – some people just aren’t dog people. A fifth of employees agreed that having dogs around while they work would make them more stressed, with more than half of employees agreeing that dogs would serve as a distraction.
If you are thinking about getting an office dog, remember it’s for life.
Sleeping at work has been frowned upon for many years – especially in offices. We all know that one person who fell asleep during a meeting. But what if they’d been able to squeeze in a quick 20-minute nap first? Would that have helped to make them more productive and more happy?
Ten years ago, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington collapsed due to exhaustion. It’s not unusual to equate sleeping less with professional success, but she has since made it her mission to remove the stigma from sleeping. Huffington even wrote a book about it called The Sleep Revolution and launched Thrive Global, which provides behaviour change technology and helps to unlock employee performance.
“That idea that sleep is somehow a sign of weakness and that burnout and sleep deprivation are macho signs of strength is particularly destructive,” Huffington says. “So, changing the way we talk about sleep is an important part of the culture shift.”
In fact, there is a wealth of evidence that brief daytime naps (we’re talking 10 to 20 minutes) decrease subjective sleepiness, increase objective alertness and improve cognitive performance. On top of that, it’s a known fact that more sleep makes you a happier person. According to a study by NetDoctor, short naps are linked to increased happiness and a previous study carried out by NASA found that taking a 26-minute nap boosted alertness by 54%.
Like many of us, I started yoga as a way to stay healthy both mentally and physically during lockdown. I really think it’s one of the best ways to start the day – I sit down at my desk to work feeling calm, joyful and relaxed. And I’m not the only one that needs that.
Last year, a UK survey by perkbox found that a staggering 79% of respondents commonly experience work-related stress. This is 20% higher than in 2018. And it’s not just affecting people – HSE statistics show that 17.9 million working days were lost due to work related stress, depression and anxiety in 2019-2020.
If you’ve got the space and a little bit of budget to dedicate to equipment, office yoga can help alleviate that wasted time and make employees happier. Vantage Fit explains the many benefits of yoga in the workplace, pointing out that it can improve energy, confidence, posture, immunity, focus, breathing, morale, creativity, flexibility, productivity and ingestion… While reducing stress, absenteeism, irritability and aggression. That’s a whole lot of benefits for the workforce – alongside it being a great team building exercise.
What do you do to keep yourself happy in the workplace?
These are just some of the most popular ways employers are keeping their people happy. But there are plenty more. How about a lunchtime walking group? A weekly cook-off? A board game competition or book club?
If you’re an employee, what do you do to stay happy at work? If you’re an employer, what do you do to keep people happy? Share your thoughts with us.