Guest Column

Three tips for promoting summertime employee happiness

June 21, 2019
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Summer is officially underway, and for many of us, summertime is associated with fun, excitement and happiness. June also is National Employee Wellbeing Month — making this the perfect time to refresh, reset and kick-start your employee well-being program.

While many of us have existing wellness programs and others are just starting out, a great focus is happiness. Our teams spend the majority of their waking hours at work, and the difference between a bad day and a great day often can be as simple as being happy. Happy employees are more committed and driven, have a deeper sense of purpose, are more creative and cope better with work strain. They’re more effective leaders, more likable and find true meaning in their work. So, how do we create a happier workplace? Here are three tips for promoting happiness in your organization:

Overcome negativity

It’s quite natural for humans to identify the negative — it’s an evolutionary trait that has allowed us to avoid threats and survive. Unfortunately, all it takes is one negative comment or complaint to start a landslide of negativity.

For those who live in a neighborhood of negativity, it’s harder to find solutions and problem solve. Move away from negativity quickly by encouraging and empowering your team to brainstorm solutions or ideas when they present a less-than-ideal observation. This stops the spiral of negativity and puts teams in a positive, problem-solving frame of mind.

One easy way to do this in the moment is by responding to a complaint with the question: “What solutions can we come up with to make this better?” It automatically turns negativity into a challenge to collaborate on ways to fix a problem. Using that creative side of your brain can stimulate new insights and analytical thinking. In the end, the organization wins and a problem has been solved thanks to a creative and empowered team.

Use strengths

It sounds simple, right? Research has shown that people who use their strengths are six times more likely to be engaged at work. Encouraging your employees to pursue their purpose and shine in areas that bring them joy leads to a more satisfied and productive team.

You may want to take advantage of one of the many strengths-finder assessments online, host a workshop or simply sit down and have a one-on-one conversation. Follow up by creating mentoring or enrichment opportunities based on your findings. Then sit back, relax and watch your team shine.

Make time for fun

We may not get to enjoy summer break quite like we used to as kids, but the spirit of summer is alive in all of us — especially after this year’s long and cold Michigan winter.

Take advantage of the warmer temperatures and host a cookout during lunch. Resurrect casual Fridays or a new “dress for your day” policy. Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and promotions. Create a “Fun Committee” and task them with creating culture-enriching engagement experiences this summer and throughout the year. The ideas can be as small or as large as budget allows (I’ve seen everything from a Shark Week celebration to a bunko tournament to a chili cook-off).

Whether you have a cookout during lunch or schedule one-on-one conversations, make your employees’ happiness a priority. This effort will increase their ongoing performance and enhance the culture of your organization.

Need more ideas? Talk to your health insurance provider about options or get inspired by what Priority Health offers Michigan businesses.

Rebecca Mason, RD, is a registered dietitian and Health and Wellness Coordinator in the Wellness Department at Priority Health. Mason is certified in adult weight management and has a background in both clinical nutrition and wellness programming.

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