How can you contribute to a positive workplace? We break down why it's so important.
Creating happy and positive workplaces is one of the biggest challenges organizations face today. We know this because Chief Happiness Officer is now a job.
Getting people aligned with a company vision, caring about it, and actually having fun doing it, is a huge undertaking, which is why the responsibility can't just rest on the Chief Happiness Officer's plate, or the CEO's, or your boss's.
It's just like a good party. A good party takes into account ambience, physical environment, guests, food, beverages, and favors. But what really makes a good party? The people! The same theory applies to workplaces. What often keeps people in jobs? Their co-workers.
With the right attitude, you have the power to create happiness at work, contributing to a positive work place, and to be the type of co-worker who encourages people to not only stay at their jobs, but enjoy them, too. Here's how:
1. Show up.
Woody Allen is quoted as saying, “80 percent of life is just showing up” and the same goes for your workplace. What does it mean? It means more than physically attending work. Clocking in, clocking out, will not generate workplace happiness and a positive workplace. You need to be present. When we're working 'in the now' you're able to “perceive opportunities that are invisible to (your) co-workers who miss out on the power of the now.” And in fact, be more successful. Showing up means being open to the now and in the zone to process information without distilling it through the lens of the past or future. This act will help others lean in to what you're doing and encourage them to do the same.
2. Join in.
Don't resist the fun, seriously. A study out of Norway found that people who participated in cultural activities like joining a club reported lower levels of anxiety and depression as well as a higher quality of life. In most workplaces, especially in a positive workplace, there are community type activities from social committee, health and safety, volunteer, new hire buddies and more. The great thing about joining in is that not only will you have fun and make yourself happier at work, you'll also be building out your personal brand in the process. Beyond that you'll be leading by example and be able to encourage others to do the same. Think of it this way, if you have a workplace full of “Joining-In” types you'll have a workplace that's going to satisfy you on more levels than just a paycheck. Joining in is like being the lighthouse to negative people. You do your thing, shine brightly, and soon others (especially those naysayer types) well come into the light, too, and join in. It's contagious.
3. Speak up.
If Joining In is being the lighthouse, then Speaking Up is being the flashlight. Most of the time being the lighthouse is the best way to influence those around you. It's the old, “you catch more bees with honey than with vinegar” story. Plus, when people 'come into the light' on their own accord, it's way more impactful for them. But then there are the times when you need to encourage them a little more directly.
In a work environment, negative people are like mold, and there are times that call for you to protect yourself from the mold by speaking up. Speaking up means calling out unfair behaviour like bullying or sexual harassment advances in the workplace. Or, asserting yourself with a negative person and calling out their B.S. Using an assertive communication tactic, you can identify the behavior, what you want, and the impact, without feeling like it's a full-blown confrontation. By doing this, you're influencing not only the parties involved but possibly the greater team, department and company. When we tolerate less bad behavior from others, we inspire others to do the same. If 'everyone' speaks up for the type of work environment they want, it will lead to a more positive, open environment in the long run. Be certain to speak up with diplomacy, grace, and facts. Leave the emotion on the doorstep.
4. Become engaged.
You might think I mean flipping on a switch and activating your 'Employee Engagement' button, but I don't. Or, I do. Being engaged with something is a choice. If you disagree, stop reading now. You might be thinking, hey, that's HR's job… Or, that's my boss's job! And you're right, too. The way I see it is this: HR & Management can create an environment in which employees can choose to be motivated. So, take a look at the company. Examine where they're headed and why, and consider if you're behind it. Do you believe you align with the company culture? Sure, you'll have questions like, is that the right boss for the job? Or, will the market respond? But putting that lightly aside, can you get behind it? If you can get behind it, you will be happier at work. Your engagement also goes beyond Mission and Vision. If you're happier, you'll be shining bright and it's a lot easier for others to follow your lead of positivity than to (continue) sulking.
5. Be a leader.
You do not need a big title to be a leader. Whether you're entry-level or an executive, you can evoke change from where you stand. It might not be earth shattering change, but you can make someone's work experience better. Whether it's becoming friends with someone and having someone to eat lunch with or brightening up someone's day by recognizing them for a job well done, it is all of our job's to generate team spirit and strengthen company culture. By sharing kudos, high-fives, and being positive in the face of adversity, you will be the kind of person everyone wants on their team - the Lighthouse person. The person whose light shines so brightly that soon enough everyone will be basking in it.
Our emotions are all a matter of energy. If we're negative, it's like mold. It'll fester, grow, and spread. If we're positive, it'll shine bright. Other's will seek out it's warmth. By choosing to do something about your work environment, you're choosing to make at least one person happier: you. And think of it this way, in a worst case scenario, epic failure of attempts, you'll only reach one person with your attempts. If you can make one person's work experience better, would you do it?
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