Some may say job satisfaction is overrated—just be happy to HAVE a job, they’ll advise.
Here at TechSpace, we believe that life is too short to work at a job you don’t thoroughly enjoy. Our offices are full of people who have the pleasure and privilege of pursuing their dreams – from freelance workers and VC backed startups, to established business owners and large corporations.
Pursuing your dream is one way to stay happy, however taking that leap of faith isn’t always rainbows and sunshine (just ask anyone running their own startup). For the rest of us who don’t have the freedom to chase the rainbow right now, job satisfaction is a key part of ensuring productivity, not to mention the fact that happy employees tend to be long term employees. Here are some tips to foster happiness for both you and your team in the workplace.
Be happy with yourself
Love yourself, enjoy yourself and forgive yourself, no matter what you’re going through in your life. This can be a challenging goal, but one worth pursuing. Cultivate an inner joy. Live in the moment. Notice beautiful things.
The more at peace you are with yourself and the more you foster positive thinking, the better you’ll work. “Happy people tend to be more creative and less prone to the errors induced by habit,” writes Joseph T. Hallinan in his 2009 book “Why We Make Mistakes.”
In addition you’ll be a better coworker, and your team won’t hide under their desks when they see you coming.
Take care of yourself and make sure your employees do, too
Try to exercise regularly, eat right and get enough sleep. According to Hallinan not only do sleep-deprived people make more errors, but they also take more risks, which may or may not be the traits you want in your employees.
A few ways to ensure employees stay healthy is to keep meetings to a minimum unless absolutely necessary, provide healthy snacks in your workplace and make sure everyone goes home on time or at the very least, a reasonable time. As the 2010 book “Rework” says, you don’t need more hours; you need better hours. Focus on working smarter, not longer.
People like to know what’s happening. No one wants to be blindsided by a new initiative, staffing changes or other factors than can affect their jobs. Share whatever knowledge you can with your team about the organization. Communication helps avoid fear of the unknown. By keeping your people in the loop, you avoid knee-jerk reactions to whatever new thing is coming. Which helps with …
Changes, challenges and discomfort: Embrace them
Just as it’s important to switch up exercise routines to keep our bodies in top shape, we must get comfortable with innovations at work so that we can cope with changing times.
Have workers try something new. For example, try swapping responsibilities for a day. These are the experiences that force us to grow and become stronger, both as individuals and as organizations. Clinical psychologist Reid Wilson advises us to “create a well-conceived strategy to build our ego strength and our mental muscles, and increase our grit and resilience so we can handle distress and rebound after a loss,” he writes in Psychology Today.
“By doing all that, we will improve our performance,” Wilson writes. “We must seek opportunities to feel clumsy, awkward, embarrassed, insecure, and self-conscious.”
A great example of a visionary leader who likes to switch things up is the character of Rodrigo on the Amazon series “Mozart in the Jungle.” The conductor of New York’s major orchestra, he pushes himself and his musicians to take risks… giving a surprise outdoor concert in a working-class New York City neighborhood or performing classical music for inmates on Rikers Island. He not only embraces, but seeks out change and works hard to stay open to new ideas, even in the straitlaced field of classical music.
By giving yourself and your team new challenges, you not only improve your resilience and response to fear, but your sense of self. As you and your team prove to yourselves that you can meet and overcome challenges, your confidence will grow significantly.
Let people know they can talk to you. Check in with your team to see how they’re doing. Maybe they have an idea to streamline a facet of your organization, or they need to tell you about something going on in their lives that is going to affect their work. Listen compassionately and do whatever you can to support your employees. Even if they prefer not to discuss their personal lives, it’s encouraging to leave the door open.
Whiners are a different matter. Chronic complainers can drag down entire offices, so put limits on when and how people can gripe to you. The classic guide “Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst” details an action plan for such cases. Download a handy guide here.
Have a life outside of the office
Place a high value on balancing work and life outside of work, like time with family and friends. Focus on creating an environment where your team can do the same and you’ll all be more efficient because of it. As “Rework” observes, “When people have something to do at home, they get down to business. They get their work done because they have somewhere else to be.”
Pursue non-work interests. Keep your day job … but also do something you love. Carve out time for tennis, music, Pokemon Go or whatever makes you happy!
Bring joy to the workspace
TechSpace offices are designed to help keep you and your team happy, with lots of natural light, views and common areas where people can get out of their day to day offices and mingle and exchange ideas. If you don’t have an office space like that and you don’t have the luxury of relocating, take a look around and see what can be improved. Can clutter be cleared? Can you create a chill-out area with a couple of well-placed chairs and a small table?
Back to Rodrigo. He is an accomplished musician, one of the best in the world at what he does, but in a memorable scene, he’s brought to tears by a street busker playing Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Minor” on the banjo. He remains open to experience. He wants to grow and isn’t afraid to learn and become a different person.
As John F. Kennedy said, “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”