We’ve all talked a lot about ‘the little things’ in the last year or so. The pandemic made us miss out on everyday pleasures like hugs, dinner with friends, working side-by-side with a favourite colleague. But while we mourned those little losses, other small joys took their place. Some people relished a slower pace of life. Others discovered the fulfilment of a daily walk. Many indulged in a good book or a binge-worthy box set.
As the world and our workplaces reopen, it’s worth empowering employees to find further sources of joy. Research by the University of Oxford and BT shows that happy colleagues are 13% more productive. So while your return-to-work plan might focus on realignment, delivery and performance, adding an element of fun could help get the job done faster.
In a Harvard Business Review article, Alex Liu, managing partner and chairman of A.T. Kearney, explains that joy sparks human connection and success. He writes that the joy shared by a winning sports team and their supporters springs from a blend of harmony, impact and acknowledgement – and that employers should embed these drivers deep within their company culture.
Worryingly, Liu also highlights a marked ‘joy gap’ within the workplace, in existence even before the COVID-19 crisis. According to an international A.T. Kearney survey, almost 90% of employees across a range of age groups and industries ‘expect to experience a substantial degree of joy at work, yet only 37% report that such is their actual experience’.
We would all benefit from bridging the divide. As we’ve learned during the pandemic, helping your colleagues achieve their bliss doesn’t require big gestures or purpose-built corporate programmes. It’s the little things that count.
Here are four achievable ways to weave fun and joy into your workplace and create happier, more productive teams.
Get the ball rolling
Reconnecting your team through a light-hearted, low-pressure activity can do wonders for morale and motivation. Studies show that we’ve missed our colleagues during remote working – but that doesn’t mean staff will fall effortlessly back into pre-pandemic routines and rhythms, particularly if you’ve moved to a hybrid working model. Encouraging long servers, management and new starters to collaborate on a fun, ‘out-of-office’ project could be the breezy icebreaker that brings working relationships back on track.
Support positive mental health
After a year of upheaval, uncertainty and worry, some workers might find it harder to embrace joy. Providing mental health support to your workforce can help staff uncover a positive focus. Research from Time to Change reveals that only 13% of employees feel comfortable discussing mental health issues with their manager, so job one for employers is eliminating the stigma. Show clear commitment to worker wellbeing by understanding your duties as an employer, training leaders to spot the signs of emotional distress and tapping into a wealth of free resources. Creating a safe, open environment that prioritises mental health will give every colleague a fair chance to find contentment.
Try new things
Nothing bonds a team better than being nudged out of their comfort zone. Trying new things flexes your workers’ thinking skills, imagination and resilience – and fuels the fun and camaraderie we longed for during lockdown. Explore ways to stretch your employees’ boundaries, either through new collaborations, ideas sessions or creativity exercises – or ‘off duty’ activities that allow co-workers to learn while sharing a few laughs. For example, Kaido Challenges encourage staff to have a go at yoga or Pilates, experiment with bodyweight exercises or try meditation and mindfulness for the first time.
Share an uplifting experience
Employees feel happy when they understand their part in the bigger picture. In fact, the A.T. Kearney study suggests that ‘joy stems from believing one’s work is truly meaningful’. Team volunteering or charitable efforts can help others, bring out the best in your staff and deliver a lasting sense of shared satisfaction. Back onsite, regularly remind employees how they contribute to department and corporate goals – and don’t forget to publicly celebrate successes. Investing in your team’s pride, happiness and joy has never been more vital.
Fancy a closer look at Kaido? Let us show you round
Kaido Challenges reconnect colleagues, foster team spirit and bring fun back to your workplace. Perfect for onsite, hybrid or remote employees, Kaido’s 40-day digital team-building experiences get staff moving, laughing and boosting sleep, nutrition, activity levels and wellbeing.
We’ve helped growing SMEs and world-class brands like HSBC, the NHS and Google improve health and happiness across their workforce.