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Active at work: Steel Blue workers use pool bikes to commute between their workshops in Malaga.

Make your workplace a happier workplace

I know there will always be critics, but to me, the 80s were a great era in music. Synthesizers, Dire Straits, not to mention terrible hair; it was a great time in my life.

But there is one song that is a bit of a sentimental favourite. Don’t Worry; Be Happy by Bobby McFerran. It was a positive little tune that still gets me whistling today. Whenever I hear it, it always cheers me up, especially when I’m feeling like work is getting me down.

Certainly, being happy at work is something that we all want; it’s just that work sometimes gets in the way. There are deadlines, presentations, meetings and other pressures and well, unfortunately, workplace happiness often gets shunted further down the queue.

But we should be careful. One could argue that if your workers are not happy then they are unlikely to be performing at their peak. In reality, it is worker happiness that significantly impacts upon workplace culture, and in turn, workplace output.

Let’s put that into context.  What are the possible consequences of your workers being unhappy?

-        Resignation/s

-        Staff conflicts

-        Poor staff morale

-        Unhappy workplace culture

How does that affect your workplace?

-        Lose good staff

-        Expenses incurred as a result of hiring new staff

-        Less productivity

-        More staff sick days

-        Unpleasant place to work (for current employees)

-        Undesirable place to work (for prospective employees)

So, how do you prioritise your workers’ happiness and make your workplace a happy workplace?

The experts say the answer lies in addressing policy, environment and education. There is no doubt that a health and wellbeing plan that incorporates these three areas is more likely to be successful and enduring. But if you feel you don’t have capacity to tackle these three areas, don’t despair; there are some simple things you can do in your workplace to help make it happier.

Try these tips:

1. Move it

Workers who find exercise during their day tend to be more engaged and energetic on the job than those stuck to the office chair. Getting physical activity during your day can improve overall cardiovascular health, provide a healthy distraction from stressful office situations, and can even enhance workers’ capacity to tolerate stress. You can encourage exercise before, during and after the work day. Why not organise a lunchtime walking group, or how about a quick afternoon stretching session? If a number of workers are interested, perhaps they could chip in for a lunchtime yoga session? In some circumstances it might be as simple as encouraging your workers to spend their lunchtime away from their desk. Just knowing that management cares will make your workers feel valued and happier about working for your organisation.

2. Get quizzical

When workers sit for long periods they can feel lethargic which can affect their productivity. Why not set aside 10 minutes at least once per week for a standing quiz (participants must stand throughout the quiz). All you need is a list of general knowledge questions (readily available on the internet) and someone to ask the questions. You’ll be surprised how many laughs this simple activity creates and how it can help build a happier culture at all levels of your business. Who generates the laughter at your workplace? Could they be your quiz-meister?

3. Start a healthy food social club

A workplace social club that organises healthy events can create a happier culture. Something as simple as starting a weekly salad or soup club where members take turns to bring healthy food from home can help boost worker morale and collegiality. It’s a great conversation starter and gives your workers something to look forward to once a week. All you need is an organised worker to establish a roster and an enthusiastic group of members.

Important tip: With all activities, it’s a good idea to ask your workers what they would like to do before you begin. This way, your workers will feel valued and they are more likely to contribute and participate enthusiastically.

All of the tips provided here are free to implement. For more information on how to make your workplace happier visit www.healthierworkplacewa.com.au or call 1300 550 271 for advice.

Please note that this editorial is not designed to address mental health issues. If you are concerned about a worker’s mental health, please consult appropriate support organisations such as Beyond Blue.

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