I’ve known for a long time that I work better when I’m happy, challenged and learning. I’ve noticed that my team are more productive when there’s a bit of a happy buzz around the office – which I’m proud to say we manage to generate most days.

There’s a bunch of research out there confirming my observation, Alexander Kjerulf cites research connecting happiness to lower rates of sickness, higher creativity levels, better team work and other factors that all contribute to a more productive team in his article “Top 10 reasons why happiness at work is the ultimate productivity booster“.

So what’s the magic to keep employees happy? Barry Moltz of Open Forum came up with a list of seven secrets to keeping employees happy.

For me the big two are recognition and having fun;

Recognition – “thank you” is the most powerful phrase, even more powerful when you can be specific about what was achieved, and do it in an open setting. The fact that you’ve noticed what a team member has done will speak volumes.

Have fun – how you do this will depend on your company or team’s culture. We have toys on our desks, geek posters (thank you Oatmeal), a purple cow, and angry birds speakers decorating the office. We do coffee meetings, lunch at the local Chinese restaurant on a Friday as a team, and Bad Music Fridays. We have “in jokes” and “geek jokes”, there’s an on-going rivalry between the iPhone and android phone owners (the blackberrys are not in the running). There is a light-heartedness in how we interact with each other. Oh, and there are cookies in our team meeting by common consent.

Open Forum also came up with 5 Easy Ways to Brighten an Employee’s Day, which includes giving a small gift. I don’t really do that – and it’d be weird in the country and company in which I work, but I came across something called Bonus Bucks which I think could be a great idea.

Right now it seems to be only in the US, but they’ve collected a long list of participating vendors – to test it I used the postcode 90210 (the only one I know) and it came back with a list of  about 20 vendors in each of seven categories. I like the concept although giving cash or cash equivalents in some European countries could attract taxes for the employee so it’s harder to implement. For now I’ll stick to shouting coffee for my team and buying cookies for our team meetings.


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