How and why to nurture workplace happiness

Happiness coaches Linda Chaccour and Jo-Dee Walmsley explain why it’s a good idea to foster happiness in the office, and how you can go about doing it



While it may seem elusive to some, happiness in the workplace is far from fantasy. On the contrary, it only takes a glance at initiatives such as Great Places to Work and Dubai Parks and Resorts’ employee happiness fund to realise that many companies and individuals are helping to create offices where happiness is a key aim.

But what exactly can businesses and, more specifically, the people working in them do to create happier workplaces?

Founder of Emerge Coaching Linda Chaccour, and founder of Simply Laughter Worldwide, Jo-Dee Walmsley are two of the region’s leading happiness coaches and consultants, and both believe there are simple ways to boost happiness levels in the workplace.

Here are their top tips for a happier office, and reasons why it’s such a good idea.

Linda ChaccourFounder and happiness consultant, Emerge Coaching

As a certified youth, parent and family coach, as well as a life strategist and happiness coach, Chaccour aims to inspire and supporting individuals and organisations to achieve their goals and realise their full potential.

Find meaning
“To make work more enjoyable, regardless of your circumstances, seek and create meaning and pleasure in the workplace. Creating the right conditions at work lies within you – identify the tasks and activities that are meaningful to you and make you happy and focus on doing them first. Evaluate your work conditions by asking yourself questions such as: ‘what is working well? What can I do better? How I can dedicate more time doing more significant work? How can I connect better with my colleagues?’ When you find better ways to craft your work so that it gives you more meaning and connection, you will thrive.”

Acts of kindness
“Offer a helping hand to co-workers and passers-by. Most of us assume that being kind and doing or saying nice things to others is for their benefit, but research shows that acts of kindness are a powerful way to increase your own happiness. It helps you build more positivity around youself – especially at work and in your family. Really caring for others can help improve your mental health and allow you to explore feelings of love and connection.”

Mindfulness
“One of the most effective ways to make yourself happier is to be engaged in the present. Whenever trying to accomplish a task, it is ideal if you can be fully focused and fully present in the moment. Being present grants the benefit of using all of you – 100 per cent of your capabilities – to do what you need to do in order to move forward. And we only move forward in the present. Mindfulness – which has long been associated with stress management – also plays a role in unleashing creativity at work. A quiet mind can make room for creative thinking in business. Learn to meditate and focus fully.”

Gratitude
“Gratitude is a feeling or an attitude expressing thankfulness for what one has and will have. Recent studies suggest that gratitude is linked to wellbeing and happiness. Grateful people are happier, healthier, and optimistic and are able to cope positively with changes, challenges and difficulties they experience in life. Each day write down three good things that happened to you. They can be anything you feel good about or grateful for. Even on a bad workday there are normally some things that you can feel good about. Taking time to be grateful helps you focus your attention more on the positive, rather than dwelling on the negative.”

Exercise
“Make physical exercise a weekly and even daily habit. Exercise boosts your energy, helps you sleep better and directly affects your happiness. Regular physical activity increases self-esteem, reduces anxiety and stress and can even lift symptoms of depression. Employees who include any type of physical activity in their morning routines or lunch break tend to be more engaged and energetic on the job than those who stay long hours sticking to their chairs.”

Jo-Dee WalmsleyFounder and CEO, Simply Laughter Worldwide

Walmsley uses the principle of ‘laughter yoga’ in her workshops, talks and coaching. With a focus on corporate wellness, female empowerment and overall happiness, she works to facilitate team building, stress relief, self-actualisation and more.

Staff retention
“It costs a company time and money to hire and train new staff, so it is important to have your people staying in their jobs. By doing things like laughter yoga at work you bond the group and show them how to get through tough times together, without the need for continual staff turnover.”

Happy to go to work
“When teams laugh and have fun together they have a good time at work, which is why it is really important to make sure the atmosphere is a happy one. We spend up to 80 per cent of our time at work so it is vital that it is a pleasant environment and your staff enjoy coming to work.”

Dealing with stress
“Many times when we are stressed our ‘flight or fight’ response kicks in, which means our brain literally switches off along with other systems and you release a shot of the stress hormone cortisol into your system with no way of getting it out. This results in illness. Happiness can be a big help. When you feel this way, change your response. Just start to laugh and you will see how well you come up with solutions.”

Lacking inspiration
“There are times when you just can’t feel inspired for many different reasons. A dose of laughter will energise you and get those creative juices flowing. Research shows that laughter can help solve problems by making it easier to think, and the lighter mood leaves lots of room for that eureka moment.”

Resilience
“Things happen at work – deadlines are missed, targets are not met, and there are misunderstandings. You can’t always change that but you can change the way you respond to them. A happy environment will help you be able to laugh at what happens, giving you a clear mind that will allow you to come up with solutions much faster.”

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