Elizabeth P. Cipolla | February 23, 2014

You’ve done all of the right things to grow your business according to what trusted experts and mentors have advised. You’re diligent about planning and forecasting. When it comes to customers, you do whatever it takes to please them. Hiring smart is something you take very seriously. Frivolous spending? No way. You always carefully consider the risks and potential returns before spending a dime. Competitor awareness and technological advances are also at the top of your radar screen. Despite carefully doing everything by the book, your profit margins and growth record leave a lot to be desired. What gives?

Happiness. Sure, we’ve all read various quotes about it being the key to life, but might it also be the key to business success? Most of us never learned about the proven impact happiness has upon business success in college textbooks while we were preparing to enter the corporate world.

Hugely successful Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, has confirmed that unprecedented success can be discovered by creating a corporate culture of happiness. In his New York Times Bestselling book, “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose,” Hsieh details how he has built a culture of happiness which has served as a powerful model for achieving multi-billion dollar success.

Despite Zappos’ success story, some of you non-believers may still be skeptic of this happiness claim. Many of you understand the importance of having policies and practices that demonstrate positive treatment of employees and customers. After all, you host an employee picnic, a service awards luncheon and even customer appreciation events. But investing in a complete cultural shift based upon happiness? Come on. Get real. There’s work to be done. If you’re developing an entire business model around happiness, you’re just blind to the reality of competitive business. Right?

Wrong. In fact, according to research conducted by Good Think Inc. CEO and former Harvard researcher, Shawn Achor, happiness actually raises every business outcome for your brain. After a decade long study, it was proven that happiness raises sales by 37 percent, productivity by 31 percent, and accuracy on tasks by 19 percent, as well as improvements to your health and quality of life.

Considering the record levels of unhappiness at most companies, and the proven link between happiness and business profits, consider what you can do to instill a culture of happiness and fun. Not sure where to begin? Consider some of these ideas.

Send a sweet thank you.

Give a Snickers candy bar to someone who always makes you laugh. Offer a pack of LifeSavers to someone who put in extra effort to help a colleague in need. Present a Nestle Crunch bar to the person who led your team through the ‘crunch time’ created when trying to meet a tough deadline.

Incorporate laughter into the workday.

Laughter connects people and triggers relaxation and creativity. As adults, we only laugh an average of 15 times per day, compared to an average of 400 times per day for children. Increase your company’s laugh quotient by adding a joke of the day or a humorous event on your company website, intranet or newsletter. Kick off an otherwise mundane presentation with a humorous, attention grabbing twist. Play a tasteful and harmless prank on a coworker.

Host a trivia contest.

Invite your employees or co-workers to share some interesting, little-known facts about themselves with you. Use this information to create a contest where employees attempt to match facts about each other to the correct employee. Give prizes to the top winners.

Creatively reinforce positive workplace behaviors.

Give out a fun pair of cheap sunglasses (the more eccentric, the better) to someone who wasn’t afraid to share a ‘bright idea’ during a meeting. Have a department cowbell handy in a central location for anyone to ring when something positive happens. When someone rings it, everyone will stop, listen to the positive announcement (for example) “I just beat my project deadline by two days), and respond with applause and cheer. Bring a weight into every meeting. Place it on the center of the table. Whenever someone begins a statement with, “Yah, but … ,” hand them the weight as a fun reminder not to ‘weigh down’ forward-thinking business momentum with an idea killer.

Toss your old-fashioned notion of workplace fun. Take a specific action every day to reinforce a happy culture.

Let’s help each other out. Post a comment or email me to share your ideas for workplace fun. {end}

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