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International Day of Happiness 2022- make happiness a weekly habit for your team

It feels odd to focus on happiness while the last remnants of a pandemic still linger on and there is war in Ukraine. However this weekend it is International Day of Happiness, which was founded by the UN during more peaceful times.  The idea was to focus on the importance of happiness as a universal goal. And while tensions and anxieties are at an all-time high, there are certain things we can control in our own sphere of influence.

Since we spend most of our waking day at work, it’s important to make sure our workspaces are happy places. Happiness, like excellence requires consistent practice. Here’s a look at how we can make our teams a better place.

Weekly team habits

The first thing to understand is that happiness isn’t a light switch you can turn on and off. It’s a state of being that comes in waves—there are always highs and lows. What is critical is to make sure there are more highs than lows and that your state of wellbeing is trending in the right direction.

That said, team happiness is a result of positive habits. In order to create a happier team, you need to create positive feedback loops. Happiness is contagious—it can spread between people easily and even between teams. As people are happier, they do better work, connect with each other better, and build on each other’s ideas. They succeed and are recognized for it and go on to succeed more.

The first step in creating a happier team is to have a weekly check-in meeting. It doesn’t have to be long, but it needs to happen every week. Beyond discussing assignments for the week, it’s important to check-in as a team and reflect on how the last week went and what you can do better. Encourage your teammates to speak up and voice their concerns, frustrations, and solutions. As you listen to each other and share more freely, that strengthens the team bond. Weekly team meetings also enable you to build on successes and sort frustrations before they fester.

The ultimate goal of these meetings isn’t to rehash things on a superficial level, but rather to find out how team members are really doing and learn how the team can support one another.

Express gratitude and celebrate wins

It’s important that team members are seen and feel seen. To that end, one aspect of the team meeting that I highly encourage is for team members to express gratitude for each other and celebrate wins. As important as it is to identify mistakes and determine learnings, it’s equally important to take the moment to show appreciation and celebrate the good things.

It’s ok to take a moment to celebrate wins—in fact it’s very important. Wins are an achievement, and recognizing the effort that the team has put forward goes a long way in creating a better workplace.

Showing appreciation is a seemingly little action, but people work better in environments where they feel that they are making a positive contribution. The inverse of this is that failing to recognize good things and expressing gratitude can lead to resentment and strife between team members. Team members will end up feeling unappreciated or unwanted and seek employment elsewhere.

Keep it fresh

Bored people are at a higher flight risk than stressed people (44% vs 11%). In fact, 36% of bored people are likely to leave their jobs in the next six months. Boredom stems from a lack of emotion, engagement, or interest. Thus, the cure for boredom is in ‘flow’—the peak experience that comes from interest. It’s often described as being in the ‘zone’ where time seems to pass swiftly.

To prevent your team from getting bored, make sure to tap into their interests and strengths. Help them identify the things that they like doing and they are good at. Not only will playing to their strengths keep your people engaged, it will also result in better quality of work—interest leads to better engagement and low risk of boredom. Outside of work interest, talk to teammates about what interests them. Finding that common ground can lead to better collaborative experiences—we always want to work with the people we like.

Measure what matters 

From business metrics to smart watches, there are a host of KPIs out there for everything imaginable. But if happiness is a true priority, we shouldn’t leave that to chance. Even with positive habits, it can be difficult to know if things are improving. That’s why when I work with clients, I create them a Happiness KPI to measure what really matters. Inevitably every team has setbacks from time to time and tracking weekly happiness enables you to know how your teams are doing  and do something about it when things aren’t going so well.