5 Things You Can Do to Improve Workplace Happiness

This post originally appeared on the IBM Social Insights blog and was well received. Wanted to share it!

It is well known in HR circles that 70% of employees aren't fully engaged in their work. For executives, this means employee productivity, customer service, and profits suffer. For employees, it means most of us aren't running into the office each morning with huge smiles on our faces.

You don't have to wait for top management to set the cultural tone for your group. Here are five things you can do today to create a happier workplace for yourself and your coworkers.

1. Invite a Colleague for Coffee (don’t include the boss)
The London School of Economics and Political Science published a fascinating study on well-being and happiness at work. The goal was to understand which activities bring happiness to our workday. One thing that best led to feeling fulfilled during the workday, the study found, is the chance to deepen workplace relationships.

Fun fact: Spending time with your boss ranked just above being sick in bed as an activity that brings happiness! It may be better to invite another colleague.

2. Turn the Music Up
Listening to music while working leads a list of activities we can do to boost a sense of well being and happiness at work. Dancing in front of co-workers is not encouraged.

3. Set Mini Goals
We all thrive on reaching milestones. The challenge with finding fulfillment in our work is that our goals may be too far ahead for us to stay engaged. By enjoying the journey, we are able to celebrate ongoing successes and build upon a foundation of small wins that keep us motivated for the next challenge.

4. Tap into Benefits and Perks
This is one of the most underutilized offerings within companies. Many organizations provide discounts on tickets, travel, and services that will help you get out of the office and enjoy something new.

Increasingly companies are supporting opportunities for employees to volunteer. One easy approach you can consider is to join a project or organized activity.

To illustrate this, the IBM Innovation Center Dallas Team puts on a fantastic summer camp for high school students each year. The program teaches students about data and analysis through a series of interactive cases. I met Lisa Barnes and Kevin Gilhooly and together we worked on an HR case study to teach the students about compensation management. It was easy for me to do and fulfilling — Lisa and Kevin had already done the hard work of planning — and I had the chance to work with IBMers I normally wouldn’t collaborate with on a project.

5. Surprise a Colleague with Recognition
Be spontaneous! Unexpected acts of appreciation can really make someone’s day. Celebrating successes (big or small) is critical to creating a fulfilling environment. Informal recognition is something many employees desire, but don’t consistently receive. You can change that!

What are your tips for staying happy throughout the day?