Friday, January 31, 2014

I Love Humor in the Workplace

Last week, I blogged about how I loved that we have the technology to work from anywhere. Well, even with all the improvements in technology, we've all experienced "challenges." Take a look at this funny video that portrays a conference call "in real life!"

The thing I love about my job this week? Laughter! Someone shared this video with me at work and it cracked me up! (They left off the flushing toilet, but I've heard that one before! Not to mention the chatter when someone thinks they're on mute and they're not! There could be a whole series of funny videos on this topic!)

I love, not only that at my workplace we can share (appropriate) funny links, but that there's laughter in the hallways and at meetings. I'm lucky to be in an environment where the bosses all have a good sense of humor and foster a sense of fun and playfulness with the teams. Sure, there's stress, too, but I think one thing that contributes enormously to workplace happiness is being in an environment where there's laughter!

So if you want to enjoy your job more... find something to laugh about and share it with your teammates. Laughter is contagious!

Friday, January 24, 2014

I Love That I Can Work From Anywhere!

One thing that I really love about my job is that I have the flexibility to work from anywhere. With our modern-day tools and technologies, as long as I have Internet access, my laptop and a phone, I have everything I need to get my job done.

I live in Colorado, but in January, I'm ready to escape the cold, and I have a little tradition of spending Martin Luther King weekend in Phoenix. (I'm a runner and there's a big race in Phoenix that weekend.)

This year, I decided rather than just coming for the race, I'd get a little taste of being a snowbird and stay the week and enjoy the weather. Thanks to the flexibility of my work-place, I was able to enjoy this getaway without having to take any of my coveted vacation-time.

Now, I work in a place that promotes "co-location" and believes that there's a lot of positive teamwork and interactions that occur "over the water cooler," so as a general rule, we're asked to limit "work from home days" to once a week.  And, honestly, when I'm in town, I usually prefer to go into the office so I rarely work from home.  I'm lucky that I have a short commute, and I enjoy my bigger monitors and seeing people face-to-face.

However, I LOVE the flexibility of being able to work from home (or from Phoenix in the Winter!)  The only downside of this is that I find myself working nights and weekends.  The truth is, though, that no one is expecting me to work nights or weekend...  Usually, I'm doing it because I want to. I really like what I do.  So... enjoying my job and having the ability to do it from anywhere... you can't get much better than that!

Friday, January 17, 2014

I Love Office Parties

One of the many resolutions I've had in the past is to keep a gratitude journal.  I've read a lot of studies that show that gratitude is a huge contributor to happiness. So...  in the spirit of workplace happiness, once I week, I'd like to have a blog post about something I love about my job.

Because December was so full of parties, Heather Carson, who plans an annual White Elephant Gift Exchange and Pot Luck, postponed our party for January.

I really enjoyed the variety of food and the fun gifts people brought. And it was just fun to hear the laughter! So contagious!

For those of you who have never participated in a White Elephant Gift Exchange, it's a fun way to "re-gift" something you aren't too excited about keeping for yourself. It can be a gag or funny or just something that you already have enough of, but think someone else would enjoy. There's a chance to "steal" from someone else (up to 3 times) or to choose a wrapped mystery gift.  At our exchange, we had everything from the not-so-popular dryer balls to the very popular Leg Lampshade Night Light and Stupid Things People Say Desk Calendar.

Here are the rules Heather distributed:

How a White Elephant Gift Exchange works
1. Each guest who wishes to participate must contribute a gift. Everyone sits or stands in roughly a circle around the pile of gifts.
2. Prepare slips of paper equal to the number of gifts with clearly written numbers. Be sure to distinguish 6 from 9, 1 from 7. Each participating guest draws a number and holds onto that slip of paper.
3. On the first turn, the guest with paper slip #1 chooses a gift, opens it, and all admire it.
4. On the second turn, the guest with paper slip #2 gets the choice of "stealing" any unwrapped gift (#1's) or choosing a wrapped one. If #2 steals #1's gift, then #1 must open a wrapped gift.
5. On the third turn, the guest with paper slip #3 gets the choice of "stealing" any unwrapped gift (#1's or #2's) or choosing a wrapped one.

The game continues based on the following:
1. If a gift is stolen from you, you can steal a gift (within limits, described below), or open a wrapped one.
2. The turn proceeds until a wrapped gift is chosen.
3. A gift cannot be immediately stolen back from the guest who just stole it.
4. The fourth "owner" of a gift gets to keep it. The gift is "dead" after it has been stolen three times.
5. "Owners" of "live" gifts must keep them visible and hold them up when requested.
6. The gift exchange ends when the last wrapped gift is opened. Usually, guests are encouraged to perpetuate the gift stealing as long as there are "live" gifts, but no one is obligated to do this.

What do you love about your job?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fun at Work Improves Teamwork and Collaboration

I'm really enjoying this new "Happiness in the Workplace" project and it seems like different examples of how happiness is beneficial just keep falling in my lap!

I started playing "OfficeVibe" (which I blogged about last time), and had an activity card in my inbox today to "Reshare a company post."  However, since the article I'd like to share was sent internally at my workplace (McKesson), I can't post the link on a public site, but I will include some quotes and give you a summary of an article.

Basically, the article said that by making a conscious effort to include fun in the workplace, employee survey results showed a dramatic improvement in employee satisfaction.

By incorporating silly team-building activities into some work meetings (while also implementing more serious work-related improvements), these innovators seem to have unlocked a key to improving employee satisfaction and business success.

The article went on to talk about how one team experienced dramatic improvements such as a 28% improvement in "How the team functions as an organization" and a 25% improvement in "Customer Focus." The leaders of this team attribute their success to teamwork, collaboration, and giving team members the opportunity to rotate.  One senior director said the team "works hard and plays hard" and that the "crazy activities we do really help foster the spirit of teamwork and camaraderie."

I think this is particularly cool because I work in Agile Software development, which really promotes teamwork and collaboration.  I'm so excited to see the recognition at high levels of how much workplace happiness can be a benefit, both to the business and the employee!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

OfficeVibe Provides Game Aimed at Improving Workplace Happiness

Today's Happiologist blog post, Why Employment Engagement Leads to Productivity, included a video interview with Dan Benoni, Co-founder of Officevibe.  Officevibe allows for gamification of workplace activities that will increase employee happiness, leading to productivity gains.  It looks like there's a free version, so I definitely want to give this a try at my workplace!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

10 Days of Happiness

Because I've been interested in positive psychology for awhile, I'm subscribed to a bunch of newsletters and blogs about happiness. Of course, even though my blog is about happiness at work, the general theories still apply.  You just have to figure out how to do all the stuff that makes you happy all the time, including while you're at work.

While I don't want to repeat stuff that's already available elsewhere, I'll share something below that was in my inbox today from the "I Am Happy Project."  I'm going to try and make as many of these calls as I can and maybe I can pass along some tidbits about how they might be applied at work.  This is starting tomorrow, January 6th, at 1pm MT.  Looks like there's an app to check out as well!

The “I Am Happy Project,” the brainchild of Edwin Edebiri of Davis, California, is inviting people worldwide to participate in a “10 Days of Happiness” campaign which will run from January 6th through the 15th. Participants are encouraged to join the Global Happiness Conference Call at 12 pm pacific or 3pm eastern to focus on one of the project’s manifesto “Ten Ways to Be Happy” for each day of the ten-day period.

There will be different speakers featured each day. Each call will be about 10 to 15 minutes and cover 2 to 3 nuggets that will make your 2014 a happier year.

The call in number is 712-432-0900 and the access code is 391022#
Day 1: Decide to be happy and make it your top priority.
Day 2: Smile more and learn to laugh at yourself.
Day 3: Volunteer your time one on one or to a group.
Day 4: Donate your money according to your pocket, even if it is a dime.
Day 5: Make time for the 3 F’s: Faith, Family & Friends.
Day 6: Create a list of all the things you are thankful for or that make you happy.
Day 7: Create a list of all the things that make you unhappy and find a solution or ways to eliminate them.
Day 8: Learn to manage your time and your money.
Day 9: Be active and make healthy choices.
Day 10: Create a goal or dream list and work diligently towards them.

This year you can follow the “10 Days of Happiness” on our FREE App – the Happy Button. You can download it for free on Apple iTunes and Google Android or follow this link

Please share the information with your network, Facebook, LinkedIn and tweet about it.
With much gratitude and happiness,
I am Happy Project Team

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Benefits of Being Happier at Work

One of my "goals" for this quarter is going to be "Improve Happiness at Work" and I challenge all of you to have the same goal.  Will it benefit the company? Absolutely! Not only will you improve your own health and mood, but it's proven that productivity increases and that happiness "spreads" to the people you are around.

Originally, when I thought of adding this to my goal set, I thought it would be really tough to measure, not only happiness, but whether or not productivity improved. Those are tough things to measure. Luckily, there have already been many reputable studies done that have proven that a happier workplace means good business.

This article written exactly a year ago, challenges readers to resolve to make their workplace a happier place.  Here are some of the stats given:

  • There is extensive evidence showing the health benefits of happiness.  The evidence that positive emotions contribute to better health and longer life is stronger than that linking obesity to reduced longevity. [2] Happy people are also significantly less likely to catch the cold virus than their less happy peers. [3]
  • Human happiness has significant causal effects on labour productivity. In a recent study, one group had an intervention which increased their happiness levels, while those in a control group did not. Treated subjects were found to have 12% greater productivity in a paid task. [4]
  • Happier organisations outperform their competitors. A study looked at the stock market performance of the "100 Best Workplaces" in the US (based on positive feedback from employees about working there) over a 12 year period from 1998 to 2010. The Best Workplaces achieved an average annual return of 10%, outperforming the benchmark S&P 500 index which returned an average of only 3.8% over the same period. [5]
  • Three important factors for satisfying work are: Mastery (doing work which is challenging but which you can manage successfully), Control (having enough discretion in how you do the job) and Purpose (the feeling that what you do is worthwhile and part of some wider whole). [6]
  • Our happiness influences the people we work with and the people they know. Research shows that the happiness of a close contact increases the chance of being happy by 15%. The happiness of a 2nd-degree contact (e.g. friend's friend) increases it by 10% and the happiness of a 3rd-degree contact (e.g. friend of a friend of a friend) by 6%. [7]

What ways can you contribute to a happier work place in 2014? Leave a comment with your ideas.

[1] Mercer (2011), "What's Working" survey
[2] Diener, E., Chan, M.Y., Happy People Live Longer: Subjective Well-Being Contributes to Health and Longevity, Applied Psychology: Health and Wellbeing, 2011
[4] Oswald, A.J., Proto, E., Sgroi, D (2009), Happiness and Productivity, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
[5] Russell Investment Group for Fortune Magazine (2011), How does trust affect the bottom line?
[6] Pink, D. (2009), Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Riverhead.
[7] J.H. Fowler and N.A. Christakis, Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years, British Medical Journal, December 2008

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happier at Work: Just Start!

I've been interested in the science and psychology of happiness in the past few years.  Inspired by Gretchen Rubin's popular blog and book, The Happiness Project, I've wanted to start my own Happiness Project, as she recommends.

I'd like my project, however, to focus on an area that typically is not thought of as "fun"... In fact, in, "fun" is listed as one of the antonyms.

Here are the words listed as the synonyms of the word, "work.":

None of these words sound appealing, yet many of us are spending a major chunk of our lives working. Though the meaning of life continues to be a mystery, one thing I've decided for myself: I want to spend my life being happy, wherever I am and whatever I'm doing. Don't we all? Why shouldn't we be as happy at work as we are when we are on vacation?

My temptation, whenever I start a new project (whether it's at home or at work) is to avoid starting before I know exactly what I want to do.  I also often am a perfectionist and want to make sure I've done all my "homework" and research before beginning. This often keeps me from starting.

So today, I am just taking the first step by starting this blog. I'm not going to worry about having a whole outline about how often I will blog or how I will measure happiness at work or the benefits or exactly how I will execute this project.  There are tons of ideas in my head about how we can be happier at work, but I will follow Gretchen's lead when she started her Happiness Project blog and just consider the creation of the blog as that important first step.

So, while I'd like to have a new "theme" as Gretchen did in her book, I'm going to start with this one learning for myself about how I can be happier at work: Just start! Let go of that feeling that I can't start until I know how to finish and just take a first step, even if I'll have to change or refine over time.

So...  here it is.  The first step!