• Fiona Briffa

Tips to a happier workplace

Updated: May 14, 2019

Workplace Happiness and Well-being is fast becoming recognised as the business development strategy of the century.


Extensive studies in positive psychology and the link between happiness and success, has shown us that we have more energy, are more productive, focused, creative and motivated when we are positive, than we are at neutral, negative or stressed.

Simply put, if your staff are happy, they perform better and therefore all business outcomes naturally improve.

One of the world’s leading experts on the matter, Shaun Achor, explains it best in his video – The Happy Secret To Better Work. His video has had over 16 million views and his book, The Happiness Advantage (which I highly recommend) should be every leaders handbook if you are aiming to build happy, high performance teams.

Statistics tell us that happy staff are:

31% more productive (Greenburg & Arawaka)

300% more innovative (HBR)

37% better at sales (Martin Seligman)

And they experience:

125% Less burnout (HBR)

66% Less sick leave (Forbes)

51% less staff turnover (Gallup)

Because of this, more and more businesses are making staff happiness and well-being their number one priority, because it positively affects everything else. When you consider a possible 37% increase in sales without spending money on marketing, what makes more sense to you?

I have proven similar stats myself time and time again, but one stand-out example, was when I managed a team of 20 B2B sales reps. When I started with them, they had been mistreated, discouraged and were all under performing as a result. Not through any fault of their own, they lacked motivation and enthusiasm and this showed in their attitudes and results. Within 6 weeks I had completely changed the way they were being managed and focused more on encouragement, development and incentives via a series of tactics, to increase their happiness and well-being and set them up for success. This resulted in taking the weekly sales from 35k to 96k and reduced sick leave and lateness significantly (feel free to contact me for details on how I did it).

They were happy to come to work because they felt valued and they were given the tools and the environment to succeed and succeed they did. They excelled because they were happy, motivated and enthusiastic, because of how they were being taken care of.


The simple science behind happiness leading to success and high performance is, when you are happy your body releases dopamine which turns on your brain’s learning centres, increases your energy, motivation and even helps you focus. The natural result is higher performance.

You can increase your own dopamine levels instantly, simply by recalling happy memories and reliving them in your mind or through daily sustainable activities such as, meditation, exercise, outdoor activities in the sun and fresh air, physical touch and even listening to your favourite music.

Even if you are not a naturally positive person, there are activities you can do to rewire your brain and become more positive. We know that it takes 21 days to change your brain and create new habits and you can do this with an entire team.


So, what can you do to increase happiness in your workplace and create a positive culture where your staff can thrive and succeed?

These simple tips are easy to implement and will cost you little or no money, yet they will have a significant and measurable impact:

1. Have fun!

Yep, that’s right, fun.

You can still be professional and have fun at the same time. Having fun increases happiness and positivity, which you now know leads to all the benefits above. I start all my training sessions with a game, not just as an “ice-breaker” but because doing something fun releases dopamine which turns on your learning centres, improving concentration, memory and performance.

I have always done this with my staff first thing in the mornings as well, we play a game or do an activity to achieve the same results, enabling them to perform at their best for the day.

Important note – people cannot be 100% on their game 100% of the time. But this will raise the productivity and performance bar off the charts anyway.

There are many ways you can do this; however, I recommend you develop your “fun” strategy as a team as it depends on the people, their roles and the workplace.

2. Feedback and more feedback.

One of the biggest reasons people leave their jobs is because they are not getting any feedback or development. Esteem is a basic human need and this means that people crave feedback and to be told where they are performing well and developed in areas that can help them succeed further. Nobody goes to work to fail. What you can do to make them feel successful is tell them when and how they are doing a great job and coach them when they are not.

Even a 10 minute weekly catch-up when time is tight, just to ask them how they are going and what you can do to help, tell them what you are happy with and show them you care about their success and happiness at work.

3. Find their strengths and use them.

“Great talent finds happiness in execution” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

When we are happiest in our work when we are using our talents and strengths. This boosts our confidence and enhances performance.

There are always parts of every job we don’t like but the more you can identify and utilise your team members strengths, the more high-performing they will be. By giving them more of what they love, you are creating the happiness advantage cycle: happiness = improved performance = confidence = success = happiness; and it goes around again.

Simply by taking some time out to get to know the other strengths your team members have and the things they love to do most, you can optimise their performance as well as utilise their skills to coach others in those areas. There are so many personal benefits for them which in turn improves your business outcomes.

4. Treat your staff the same way you treat your customers.

This is a game changer.

When you treat your staff like customers, they will outperform, outlast, and out-serve with outstanding results.

There are 6 basic things your customer wants from you:

Excellent care and serviceRespect – honesty – open communicationAccountabilityHelp – make their goals your goalsEmpathyKeep your promises

All you need to do, is apply the way you want them to treat your customers, to the way you treat them. Simple.

When you lead with a heart of service, you inspire others to do the same and go above and beyond your expectations in their work. There is a great video by Simon Sinek called Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe, for more on that.

5. Practice gratitude.

This is fast becoming a team sport!

Many companies I work with have programs set up to express gratitude to each other. For one example, one has a troll doll (cute) that they pass on when they want to acknowledge someone has helped an individual. They will put the doll on their desk as a trophy of thanks/good job/achievement so everyone can know they did a good job or helped someone.

Another example is one of my clients sends e-cards to say, “thank you” or “good job” to each other.

It is simple, free and extremely effective as it caters to the human need (according to Maslow) of esteem as well as gets the team in a habit of thinking about and caring for others, which let’s face it, is just plain good for the soul.

I challenge you to try these five simple things on a daily and ongoing basis (remember 21 continuous days is required to change habits) and I would love to hear how it has changed your workplace in the comments below.

Never forget this. If you want your people to care about your business, you must first show you care about them.

Fiona Briffa

#lifestyle #positiveculture #engagement #happywork

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