By Rebecca Mason, RDN
June 21 marks the official start of summer, and for many of us, summertime is associated with fun, excitement and happiness. June is also National Employee Wellbeing Month—making this the perfect time to refresh, reset and kick-start your employee wellbeing program.
While many of us have existing wellness programs and others are just starting out, a great focus is happiness. Quite honestly, our teams spend the majority of their waking hours at work, and the difference between a bad day and a great day can often be as simple as being happy. Happy employees are more committed and driven, have a deeper sense of purpose, are more creative and cope better with work strain. They’re more effective leaders, more likeable and find true meaning in their work. It seems so simple—yet happiness is tied to nearly every positive outcome we could hope for in our organizations. So, how do we create a happier workplace? Here are my top three tips for promoting happiness in your organization:
- Overcome negativity. It’s quite natural for humans to identify the negative—it’s an evolutionary trait that has allowed us to avoid threats and survive. Unfortunately, all it takes is one negative comment or complaint to start a landslide of negativity. Before we know it, the problem at hand gets larger, rapidly tearing down the mood of all in its path. And for those who live in a neighborhood of negativity, it’s harder to find solutions and problem solve. Move away from negativity quickly by encouraging and empowering your team to brainstorm solutions or ideas when they present a less than ideal observation. This stops the spiral of negativity and puts teams in a positive, problem-solving frame of mind. One easy way to do this in the moment is by responding to a complaint with the question: “so, what solutions can we come up with to make this better?” It automatically turns negativity into a challenge to collaborate on ways to fix a problem. Using that creative side of your brain can stimulate new insights and analytical thinking. In the end, the organization wins and a problem has been solved thanks to a creative and empowered team.
- Use strengths. It sounds simple, right? Research has shown that people who use their strengths are six times more likely to be engaged at work. Encouraging your employees to pursue their purpose and shine in areas that bring them joy leads to a more satisfied and productive team. You may want to take advantage of one of the many strengths finder assessments online, host a workshop or simply sit down and have a one-on-one conversation. Follow-up by creating mentoring or enrichment opportunities based on your findings. Then sit back, relax and watch your team shine.
- Make time for fun. We may not get to enjoy summer break quite like we used to as kids, but the spirit of summer is alive in all of us—especially after this year’s long and cold Michigan winter. Take advantage of the warmer temperatures and host a cookout during lunch. Resurrect casual Fridays or a new “dress for your day” policy. Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and promotions. Create a “Fun Committee” and task them with creating culture-enriching engagement experiences this summer, and throughout the year. The ideas can be as small or as large as budget allows (I’ve seen everything from a Shark Week celebration, to a bunko tournament, to a chili cook-off).
Refresh, reset and kick start your employee wellbeing program this summer. Need more ideas? Talk to your health insurance provider about options. Or get inspired by what Priority Health offers Michigan businesses. Find out here.
Whether you have a cook-out during lunch or schedule one-on-one conversations, make your employees’ happiness a priority—and you can watch the wins from this effort in their ongoing performance.
About the Author: Rebecca Mason, RDN, is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and product specialist in the Wellness Department at Priority Health. She is passionate about helping families and individuals improve their health through nutrition education and nutritious food access. Rebecca is certified in adult weight management, and has a background in both clinical nutrition and wellness programming.