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    Happiness at work – ideas for spreading some love

    September 20, 2016 by Alison Hill

    What makes the difference between an okay workplace and a great one? Often, it’s the cumulative effect of small things that have a big impact on the happiness of your people.

    There are the tried and tested features, such as a culture that fosters learning and development, generous benefits and a comfortable and well-equipped work space, and then there are the less tangible things that make us feel good about checking in every morning.

    You can make your office happy and spread the love a little too with a bit of thought and planning. Here are some simple ways to create a happy workplace and make the world a little better at the same time.

    Good eats

    Collaboration and teamwork benefit when there is a space set aside for relaxed working and conversation. Make it comfortable by filling it with good things that also do good.

    Most organisations would come to a standstill without the coffee machine.  Switching to a Fairtrade supplier will make sure that your beans are from source where farmers are paid fairly. And with coffee now the second-most traded commodity in the world, it makes a difference to many families in less fortunate parts of the world. Buying Fairtrade coffee is a good start and you can find plenty of suppliers at the Fairtrade website.

    You can have your biscuit from Aussie Biscuits  and help support House with No Steps, an organisation that creates employment opportunities for people with a disability and bakes superb choc chip, macadamia and Anzac biscuits

    When next you cater for an event, think about using the services of a catering company that employs new migrants and refugees in the community. Not only will you be helping people to find work, learn English and overcome isolation, you will also discover some pretty delicious cuisines from around the world. In Sydney, try Mazi Mas or Parliament on King and from 2017, ASRC catering in Sydney. This not-for-profit social enterprise of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre has been running successfully in Melbourne for years.

    The bottom line

    Even office supplies as mundane as toilet paper, tissues and paper towel can do good. Social enterprise Who Gives a Crap will deliver high-quality environmentally friendly products to your office and donate half the profits to Water Aid to build toilets for those in need. They will also make you laugh with their special brand of toilet humour. Their ‘Roll model’ range is specifically for businesses.

    Who Gives a Crap use parcel delivery service Sendle  to deliver your paper. They are a cost-effective alternative to post and couriers and are Australia’s first carbon neutral delivery service. You could try them for your day-to-day deliveries.

    Create your own goodness

    Little street libraries are springing up everywhere, and the office is a great place to start one. Participants can donate favourite books, which are then shared without being checked in or out.  You simply borrow the book and bring it back when you’re done. Not only does this make for more interesting commute time, it also builds friendships  and trust as conversations happen around the library. A word of warning, though: try to set some rules and expectations around the type and condition of books that are okay so that it doesn’t become a dumping ground for books that have failed the remainder bin test.

    A friend told me about a great initiative at their office – the happiness jar. It stands in the kitchen, with paper and a pen for staff write their messages for colleagues to and staff are encouraged to anonymously thank or congratulate a colleague who has gone above and beyond for the team. They are read out at a monthly celebration and have done a lot to boost people’s sense of being appreciated. The fact that they are anonymous and given by peers adds to their impact.

    These are just a few ideas, and you can no doubt come up with those that suit the size, structure and organisational culture of your workplace. Leaders have a huge influence on the way corporate culture evolves. Strong leaders use their position to model values and set expectations for how things are done in your organisation. Why not choose a way that benefits others too? You have the power to influence your organisation’s culture for the better.

    We would love to hear from you if your workplace has great ideas that benefit the community. Share your ideas for happy offices with us.


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