Regardless of whether you work from home or you’re back in the office, the fact remains that the average person spends approximately a third of their life ‘at work’.

    In a society where we seem to be continually striving for happiness, I’d say that the happiness of the business we work for is up there with ‘pretty important!’.

    Now I know many of you have at some point over the past two years felt like you’ve been hit by a bus, both personally and professionally, and to be honest, while our businesses are not people, they too have suffered at the hands of COVID-19 and the continual lockdowns.

    So why is happiness so important?

    Well, according to the biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard: “Happiness is a deep sense of flourishing, not a mere pleasurable feeling or fleeting emotion, but an optimal state of being.”

    The key words here are ‘optimal state’! So, let me ask you: is the business that you work for operating in an ‘optimal state’? Sadly, I suspect in most cases the answer would be no!

    Here’s a recap on what we assume makes for a reasonably happy business.

    •     Successful, money in the bank and a healthy balance sheet – check!
    •     Great team, hard-working, get stuff done and seem reasonably happy – check!
    •     Happy clients and a healthy flow of new business – check!
    •     No major dramas; things seem to be working pretty well given the circumstances – check!
    •     Regulator happy and no issues with compliance – check!
    •     Reasonable prospects and career development for the team – check!

    Right, all that seems in order – what else do we need?

    Of course, that would be a massive starter for ten, but while the business may have proudly ticked off all the items on the list, my question remains: is your business happy?

    Not just a people thing

    Now we always think of happiness as a ‘people thing’, but I can honestly tell you that the most successful businesses I have met are a happy businesses.

    I’m not just talking about the team. I’m also talking about the overall vibe of the business. When you are there, it makes you feel good.

    Is that culture? Is it the team? Or is it just the fact that they serve great coffee and have swanky adjustable-height desks? Who knows – but you know when it’s there and you certainly know when it is NOT!

    I don’t have time to analyse the inside leg measurements of happiness in this article, but what I can do is give you the top four things that you need to have in place to create a happy business

    1. Love it - Working in this profession is like a calling: you can’t do half measures! You have to be all in! In fact, you have to be so far in that you couldn’t imagine doing anything else. The result … when you all LOVE IT, the business will ooze happiness! And that is a great place to be!
    2. No need to compromise … ever! - If something is not right, it gets fixed. If something is not fixable, it’s removed! It may seem harsh and will for sure be painful and at times a lengthy process, but I promise you it will be worth it. If the business makes too many allowances and overcompensates for people and things that are not working, it brings a detrimental level of unhappiness to the team and all those who come into contact with it
    3. Total honesty! - I’m honest at all times – I say what I see, I pull no punches and I tell it like it is. If I see something is wrong, I will speak out; if I think something could be done better, I make the suggestion; if I think standards are slipping, I’ll raise them; and if I don’t like how people are being treated, I will stand my ground. This – I believe – is a level of honesty that we could have much more of in our professional businesses.  There are no secrets - we ALL know the numbers – the incoming and the outgoing – and we discuss them openly. When you have no secrets, people feel a sense of belonging and inclusion. This is a feeling we all crave, and which ultimately leads to greater overall company happiness.
    4. Everyone feels understood - I don’t mean how many sugars they take in their tea … I mean really understood. We all want to feel understood for who we really are, what makes us tick, why we do what we do, what makes us jump out of bed in the morning, what we dream of, who we love and why, and not forgetting what makes us sad and what makes us happy. As professional businesses, there is often way too much focus and desire to understand clients at this level but sadly a feeling that it is ‘inappropriate’ to understand their teams in the same way. What is that all about? When we feel understood, we feel valued, we feel cared for and, guess what, we feel happy.

    Happiness doesn’t just happen; it needs to be worked at and everyone needs to make the effort if you want a happy business.

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