After working with small businesses for a number of years, and helping them with their HR needs, I had the privilege of watching most of them struggle, learn and grow into successful companies. Although each of them were unique in their product or service they provided, or in their approach to running a business, one of the components that was common to them all and had an impact on their success was the happiness factor.
One of my favorite clients was an owner on the brink of abandoning his business. When I first met him, his employee had just walked out in the middle of a very important project that was due to be completed in a few days. We sat in the backyard of his home based business and talked for two and a half hours. We discussed what makes employees great and how to keep them happy enough to stay. We then talked about the bigger effect of happiness and optimism, beyond being a happy employee or employer. Imagine what being happy can do for ones personal life!
Over the course of eighteen months, I watched his small business turn itself around and grow dramatically. It went from a home based business with two employees, whom he couldn’t keep for more than a few months, into an office building with fifteen stable and happy employees.
How He Did It
(1) Communication – By simply having a conversation with his employees about their job satisfaction, he was able to learn what they liked best about their job and what they liked least. It was also an opportunity for the owner to communicate any difficulties or challenges the company was facing so that employees understood the bigger picture and in turn possibly offered solutions he was not aware of.
(2) Shared Success – As the company grew more successful, he shared that success by increasing the benefits, much like the kaizen style of management of humanizing the workplace. A few of the benefits he added were paid time off, flexibility of schedule one day a week, and having a few of the employee’s favorite snacks available for free. This led to increased effort, higher productivity, and lower turnover.
(3) Teamwork - By communicating, sharing, and emphasizing teamwork, the owner showed that he cared about his employee’s well-being and they in turn felt that they were an integral part of the team’s success.
How You Can Do It for Your Personal Life
(1) Communication - Keep a journaled conversation with yourself. Look at your life satisfaction. Note the aspects you enjoy, what’s going well, and what aspects you want to change. Then outline simple steps on how to implement those changes and take action.
(2) Shared Success – Working hard can only go so far. At some point, you have to reward yourself or you’ll just burn out. So treat yourself to a small indulgence or perhaps a bigger one if you can afford it. If you feel you don’t really need anything then treat a loved one or someone you really care about. What’s the point of success if you can’t share it?
(3) Teamwork – Look at your own team, your relationships with family, friends, and community. What can you do to let others know they are important to you? Demonstrate your personal appreciation for your team and they will likely do the same.
Why it works
1. Inspiration – Happiness can lift other people’s spirits and create a desire to join-in and be a part of a team.
2. Speed and Momentum – When we are happily going about our tasks, we tend to get things done more swiftly and with less exhaustion. Our momentum carries us to streamline our tasks in new effective ways with less need for recovery and down time.
3. Openness – Happiness allows us to see more options and find creative solutions. We become less resistant to trying new things.
4. Gratitude – Happy people tend to feel more grateful and more appreciative which tends to inspire others to feel the same.
5. Fun – Happiness tends to give us a sense of fun, youthfulness and playfulness thereby making work feel less like work. Happiness can give us a zing, and a boost as we find ways of enjoying what we’re doing.
6. Health – Happiness can help keep depression, anxiety and stress away. We also tend to be more healthy and less susceptible to illness.
7. Flow – Life tends to flow and good things tend to happen for happy people. Rather than being caught up in the reasons why something doesn’t work, they focus on finding solutions that do work.
There are countless areas in our lives that are affected by our level of happiness. Experiment with it, and notice how happiness gives you and/or others the energy to carry through with even the most mundane tasks with zest. Notice your mind open to new efficient kaizen ways of handling these tasks and discovering new creative solutions and approaches.