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15 Keys To Workplace Happiness

15 Keys To Workplace Happiness

We spend a huge portion of our lives at work. Even if you only work the traditional 40 hours in a week, you’re still spending nearly 1/3 of your life at work. This can be a scary fact for some to face.

But if, with the right conditions, you derive a sense of joy from your work, feel a sense of connection, and believe that you create a positive impact on some portion of the world (however small) through your work then work becomes much more than just a paycheck.

Because so much of your life is spent at work, a huge deciding factor in your well-being is whether or not you’re happy at work. This can manifest in a number of ways, but the basic ingredients are the same in all types of work. Here are 15 keys to workplace happiness:

1. Freedom

The last thing you want is to show up to work with people looking over your shoulder telling you to, “change this,” or “do this another way.”

If you’re asked to design a portion of the company’s new website, and if you’re given creative freedom and the company lets you do your thing, then you’ll derive a great sense of confidence and joy from your work, feeling like you’re really making a difference.

Freedom is a fundamental ingredient in workplace happiness not only because you’re an adult and would rather not feel like you’re back in the classroom with a teacher hanging over your shoulder, but also because you want to feel that you’re trusted to do the job you’re asked to do and that the company believes you can create work to the quality standard it demands.

Being given the freedom to do the job you know you can do without being questioned every step of the way gives us confidence in our ability and makes us feel better about ourselves. Freedom is key in every aspect of life, and work is no exception.

2. Positive relationships

Every day you show up to work, you interact with people. These connections are unavoidable, and so it goes without saying that the quality of these connections has a significant impact on our workplace happiness.

In a survey done by Virgin Pulse, it was found that nearly 40 percent of respondents identified their co-workers as the top reason they loved their company.

In addition to that, 66 percent said these relationships positively impacted their focus and productivity at work and 55 percent said these relationships positively impacted stress levels on the job.

If you enjoy your co-workers, especially if you work with friends, you’ll truly enjoy coming into work each day and the time you spend at work will be joyful and rewarding.

3. Stimulating work

If all you do is go in to work each day and do manual entry, it’s going to be difficult to find happiness at work.

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There’s certainly more to enjoying what you do for a living than that, and by no means does that keep you from finding happiness at work, but whether or not your brain is stimulated while you work is one of the most important factors to workplace happiness.

Your work doesn’t necessarily have to be challenging. If you simply find it interesting then that can lead to a great sense of enjoyment as well.

Just so long as your brain is being stimulated in some way, whether you’re being challenged or you simply find your work interesting, you’ll be far happier at work.

4. Seeing your work as a calling

Moving on from the last point, more than just being stimulating, if you believe your work is downright your calling in life then you’ll find much greater joy than if you believed your position is “just a job.”

If you believe your work is just a paycheck then you’ll treat it as such. If you believe your work is your calling, that you were truly meant to do what you go to work each day to do, you’ll not only find joy in your work, but you’ll derive a deep sense of meaning as well; both are factors that lead to being happier at work.

Seeing your work as a calling doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re an astronaut or a professional basketball player though. If you see the positive impact you create from the work that you do and the way that it helps the world around you then just about any type of work can be seen as a calling and something which you gain a deep sense of meaning and purpose from.

5. Positive communication

Positive communication can make a huge difference not just in your individual happiness but in the entire company you work for, which turns back around and further promotes greater happiness in your work.

Barbara Frederickson, a University of North Carolina positive psychologist, visited 60 companies with a team of researchers to study the language used during their business meetings.

After tracking every conversation and parsing every sentence for positive and negative words, they deduced that the companies with the greatest financial performance had a greater than 3:1 ratio of positive to negative communication.

Furthermore, a ratio of 6:1 identified companies with consistently extraordinary levels of achievement.

As time goes on, the old notion of “success, then happiness” has begun to wither away, and we’ve started seeing that our well-being is directly connected to our happiness in any endeavor, especially at work. As Shawn Achor says, “It’s not success that equals happiness, but rather happiness that equals success.”

6. Transparency

To know you work for a company that does the right thing is a big factor in workplace happiness.

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In the 21st century, we’ve quickly realized the importance of transparency on the corporate level. It’s becoming increasingly more important to people to work at a company that is open about their inner workings.

This varies depending on the type of company, but, in general, knowing what the company you work for is about, where they’re going, how they intend to get there, and how you fit in are all very important points which can lead to greater workplace happiness.

Large companies have had their fair share of hiccups in recent years, and we don’t want to work at a company we feel is any less than transparent. We’re all in this together, and that includes large companies. By owning up to their responsibility of being transparent, we feel we’re a part of something positive and as a result are happier at work.

7. Flexibility

Flexibility isn’t just important with regards to unexpected events: emergencies, pregnancy leave, etc. It’s also important with regards to your workflow itself. To be able to work remotely, even if it’s only partially, can be a great contributing factor to workplace happiness. What’s more enjoyable than being able to avoid the workplace altogether?

Of course, this isn’t always possible. But in the 21st century, there’s countless positions that make working remotely a reality, which includes essentially any job that has to do with working online, and so, when applicable, it can be a great source of workplace happiness.

8. Knowing your company makes a difference

This may or may not have been a contributing factor to workplace happiness in the past, but it’s definitely something that the new workforce of the world is looking for in a company.

Achieve conducted a study, titled the Millennial Impact Study, which attempted to find out if a company’s social consciousness could affect the quality of the employees it hires. A significant 39% of Millennials surveyed said that a company’s volunteer policy affects their decision to apply. On top of that, 55% said it affects their decision to take a position.

As we grow as a society, we are becoming more conscious of the effects that we have on everything around us. And the more conscious we become to this, the more important it will be to us to find work, or at least a company, that truly makes a difference.

To know you’re with a company that cares about helping the community and giving back to the world at large can be a great source of happiness, as well as a great way for companies to retain their best employees.

9. Working mindfully

Are you fully engaged at work, or rushing around only half-present to the task at hand?

Being fully engaged at work with mindfulness is one of the greatest sources of workplace happiness.

In fact, you can often derive a great sense of joy from your work no matter how menial it is by practicing mindfulness while you work. Indeed, it’s one of the best solutions to making menial or manual input work enjoyable!

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This can take shape in many different ways, from doing individual tasks while being completely aware of the action your taking in that moment – the lifting and placing down of the keys on the keyboard, the fact that you’re sitting down, the sounds coming at you from around the office, and observing the thoughts and ideas popping into your mind as you type – to having conversations with co-workers while being completely attentive to them and responding with compassion and understanding.

There’s many ways this can be done, but one thing is for certain: to work mindfully, fully aware of what you’re doing in this moment, is one of the most important keys to workplace happiness.

10. Opportunity for growth

In our daily lives, we often want to feel like we’re getting somewhere. We want to know that tomorrow is going to be better than today, and that if we work hard we can make that a reality.

This same principle applies to the workplace, where we can derive a great sense of happiness if there’s opportunity for us to grow and move up in the company.

If we feel we’re in a company where we have no room to grow, and that where we’re at is where we’ll always be as long as we’re with the company, then we can very quickly grow disinterested and lose any joy we derive from our work (not always the case, but often so).

To know that you have a chance to move up, to improve your position, and through that improve the quality of your work life and life in general, is to come to work each day with hope.

Even if you don’t particularly enjoy your work, to know things can get better can sometimes be all we need to keep going and actually find some joy in what we do.

11. The ability to make a difference

We want to feel like we can actually make a difference, however small, in the company we work for. We don’t want to feel like we don’t matter or like the work we do isn’t required for the company to operate.

We want to feel like we can and do actually make a difference. 

We want to feel like the job we do helps move the company forward. If you work somewhere that values your contribution and you can really feel how the work you do positively affects the whole, you know that having the ability to make a difference is a major factor in deciding your level of happiness in the workplace.

12. A suggestion box

Back in the day this was a suggestion box, now it can be simply the opportunity for employees to give feedback at regular yearly or more frequent meetings, or could be taken further to a digital suggestion box, e.g. an internal channel via email or something else for employees to communicate and give suggestions to improve the company.

This goes back to the last point. That is, feeling like you can really make a difference. This is a huge factor in workplace happiness for many people. One of the worst feelings is to be at a company that you feel will just continue chugging along whether you were there or not.

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We want to feel like we matter, like we can make a difference or at least contribute in some minor way.

While this is in no way required to find happiness in your work, if you have the opportunity to do so then you’ll derive a lot more joy from your daily work. And being with a company you know actually hears you out when you have an idea can make you feel really good about your work.

13. Positive company culture

You’ll likely seen it before – the free beer and wine, the foosball table, or the “bring your dog to work day” at any of Google’s main offices. There’s various ways big companies are attempting to make the workplace also a place of fun for its employees.

This isn’t just fluff though, it’s rooted in the findings of positive psychology and other scientific studies that have begun to show that happiness in the workplace is one of, if not the, greatest factors in deciding employee performance, and as a result, company success.

However a company chooses to make this a reality, a company culture of positivity is a proven path to workplace happiness.

14. Mentorship

This is a less obvious point, but one which is valuable to many Millennials, as noted in a study done by Millennial Branding and American Express. The study showed that the opportunity for mentor-ship is an important factor to Millennial’s workplace happiness.

To know that you have the ability to learn your desired trade from someone more knowledgeable than yourself on one end seems an obvious point, but it’s something not often talked about. This goes back to knowing that you have the potential to grow within a company.

While this doesn’t directly have to do with the opportunity to move up, this does directly have to do with knowing there’s an opportunity for you to grow with regards to knowledge of your desired profession. And that in itself can make going to work each day a joy.

15. Work-life balance

There’s more to finding happiness at work than work itself. Without a doubt, what you do outside of work has a big impact on whether or not you’re happy at work. If your personal or family life is difficult then you’ll feel it across your entire life, including work.

There’s no separating work and the rest of your life. If you think that when you walk into work that fight from this morning is just going to disappear than you’re fooling yourself.

We often carry negative emotional energy from one place to the next – from work to home, from home to work, and everywhere else in between. But this doesn’t mean we’re doomed, it just means we can’t neglect any portion of our lives and think that one part will make up for shortcomings in the rest.

Take care of yourself. Work on you, your peace, and your happiness in your “off-time” and you’ll find greater happiness at work as well as the entire rest of your life.

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Published on December 13, 2018

How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

If you’ve ever thought about starting and running your own business, you’re not alone. Being your own boss, having flexibility with your schedule and keeping more of the financial rewards that come with business ownership are all good reasons to own your own company.

But as you might expect, it’s not all vacations and fat bank accounts. According to the SBA, 2/3 of businesses survive at least 2 years and approximately 50% survive 5 years.[1] So why is the failure rate so high? At least for the businesses that fail early on, lack of, or poor planning can be a major factor.

So how to start a company?

Starting a business from scratch doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, but it does take planning and work. Here are the first and most important 9 steps to take when your are starting a company from scratch.

1. Do an Honest Evaluation of Yourself

Do you work better in a structured or unstructured environment? Does a daily routine reduce your anxiety? What kinds of things are you good at? Does public speaking or making presentations make you nervous? Are you good at accounting and numbers? Can you handle the rejections you’re bound to get when selling or cold calling?

These are all important questions to ask yourself, in fact it’s a good idea to get other peoples opinion about their perception of you in each of these situations.

Whatever the answers you come up with for your evaluation, remember that’s all it is, an evaluation of where you are now. Think of it as a way to identify both your areas of strength and weaknesses.

You maybe good at public speaking which can help when raising money, but bad at accounting which just means that you’ll need to find some kind of help with that area of the business.

2. Evaluate Your Idea

If your business idea involves a new product or service (or even an enhancement to an existing product or service), it needs to be evaluated. This is technically called market research.

There are firms that specialize in doing market research for new products, but if you are on a tight budget, you can do this yourself.

First, if you can build a prototype for people to use, touch and look at that’s the best option. If a prototype is not possible or it’s a service business, then offer a highly descriptive presentation of the business plan complete with it’s unique benefits and how it’s different from the competition.

Then listen! Remember that this is not about others liking your product, this is not your baby that they are talking about. You want honest market research that gives you the best chance for a successful business. Take notes, when someone tells you that they didn’t like a feature or some aspect of your idea tell them ‘Thank you”.

After several rounds of market research with different groups of people, you should see patterns emerging about things that they both liked and didn’t like. Use this information to tweak your product or service and do another round of market research.

Keep in mind that you’ll never come up with a universally loved product, your job is to produce a product or service that appeals to the broadest range of your target market.

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3. Make a Business Plan

I know, I know this isn’t the “fun” part of starting your own business, but it is an very important step in creating a successful business!

Basically, you can think of a business plan as an outline or blueprint of your business. A good business plan should have the following elements:

  • Executive Summary – This should lay out the businesses product or service and the problem that it solves for the consumer.
  • Market Evaluation – This should talk about the market you are serving. Is it an expanding market, and how does your product better fulfill the consumers in that market.
  • Market Strategies – How are you going to penetrate the market and sell your product.
  • Operational Plan – How will the company run from day to day? Who are the key employees and what are their specific rolls. Do your key players have specific goals set for them in advance?

A final word on making a business plan: while lying is never acceptable especially when you are using the business plan to raise money, it is acceptable to “put your best foot forward”.

Playing up the positives while minimizing the negatives is almost expected in a business plan.

Besides, banks as well as professional investors will both do a more in-depth analysis before investing any money into your idea.

4. Decide on a Business Structure

You have many options here, and discussing them with your accountant or financial adviser is really the only way to know what’s right for you. But just to give you a quick rundown of the types of business entities and their pros and cons we will briefly go through them:

Sole Proprietorship

This is a common way for small businesses to get started.

The pros being:

Relatively low costs to set up (usually a business license and sales tax license).Owners normally do not have to set up a special bank account, they are allowed to use their personal one. Any income earned can be offset by other losses (check with your state!). You as the sole proprietor have complete control over all decision making. 

Finally, sole proprietorship’s are relative easy to dissolve.

The cons of using a sole proprietorship include:

You as the sole proprietor can be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the company. Some benefits, such as health insurance premiums, are not directly deductible from business income.

If you need to raise money, you are not allowed to sell an equity stake in the company. In that same vein, hiring key people maybe more difficult because you cannot offer them an equity stake in the company.

Partnership

A partnership is formed when two or more people decide to start a business. Although there is no legal requirement for any documentation to form a partnership, it is my advice that you never enter into a partnership without having a partnership agreement. (Remember, spending $1500 now can save you $150,000 in legal fees later!).

The pros of a partnership include:

Being relatively easy and inexpensive to start. Hiring key employees can be easier as you are allowed to give equity ownership to as many partners as you want.

For tax purposes, partnerships are relative simple as any income is treated as “pass through” meaning that each partner pays tax on their individual portion of the partnerships income (As of this writing, always check with your tax adviser).

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As far as the cons go:

It can be difficult for some general partnerships to raise capitol. Because it is a partnership, the actions of one of the partners can obligate the entire organisation. All profits must be shared according to the partnership agreement regardless of the amount of work done by any single partner.

Some employee benefits may not be able to be deducted on income tax returns.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

This is a very popular business entity for small to medium sized businesses. The reason for this is the cost of set up is not prohibitive and there is a separation between the owners and the company.

The pros of an LLC include:

Limited liability for the partners, unlike sole proprietorship’s and partnerships where the owners are held responsible for all of the companies debts and liabilities, an LLC provides some protection against certain debts and liabilities that are solely the companies.

Simple taxation, just like the sole proprietorship and partnerships, income is considered “pass through” and is only taxed once on an individual level.

There is no limit on the number of shareholders in an LLC. An LLC requires fewer fillings and administrative requirements than a corporation.

Corporation

A corporation is much more complex and expensive to set up. And a corporation is legally considered an independent entity that is separate from its owners.

The pros of a corporation include:

Complete separation between the owners and the company. Because the corporation is considered its own legal entity, owners can not be held personally responsible for any debts or liabilities of the company.

A corporation can raise capital much easier just by selling more shares in the company.

Cons of corporations include:

Much higher administrative costs than any other business entity. Corporations generally have a higher tax rate. Dividends are not tax deductible for corporations. Income paid in dividends is taxed twice, once by the corporation and again by the shareholder.

Again, this is just a short summary of the pros and cons, always check with your tax adviser about what will work best in your situation.

5. Address Finances

Again, not one of the “Sexier” parts of starting your business from scratch, but very important nonetheless.

So, you’ve done your business plan and an estimate of your start up funding should be included. It should include the amount of funding you’ll need to get you through your first full year of operations.

Now, how do you get that money?

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Self Funding

If possible, self funding is the easiest. You won’t have to go to banks and investors with hat in hand, or give up ownership or control of your company. But as we know, this is not a reality for most people. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of options available.

Friends and Family

They can be a good source of funding your business if they can see and understand your vision.

Remember that business plan? Pass them out to everyone you know. Then follow up, be prepared to tell them the total amount of money you expect to raise, the minimum investment you are looking for and what you will give in return for the investment.

For example, you give a friend your business plan and follow up with him/her a few days later. You can explain that you have secured funding for $80,000 of the $100,000 you need. You are selling a 2% share in the company for every $2,000 investment. How many shares would he like?

And when he/she tells you no, thank him/her and ask if he/she can think of anyone off the top of his head who might be interested? Tell him/her you really appreciate his/her time and if he/she does come across someone who might be interested to let you know.

Banks

These guys are happy to lend you money when you don’t need it, but all of the sudden they get stingy when you actually need a loan! This is where preparation comes in.

It’s a good idea to go over your business plan with an expert and maybe even have it rewritten by an expert before you approach either a bank or professional investor. Both will want to go over your business plan with a fine tooth comb, verifying all the numbers and data you provide.

You should also brush up on everything in the plan so that you can answer any questions they have with authority.

Crowdfunding

Finally, there is crowdfunding through sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. Crowdfunding helps to build interest, community spirit, and a customer base. It’s also an efficient way to raise funds. You can take a look at these tips to find out more:

6 Crowdfunding Tips To Get Your Project 100 Percent Funded

6. Register with the Government

As stated earlier, different types of business entities have different filling and administrative requirements. At the very least, you’ll probably need a business license as well as a state sales tax license.

Unless you are forming a corporation, there are many good resources on the web that will do everything for you at a minimal cost.

7. Assemble Your Team

Remember when we evaluated your strengths and weaknesses? Here is where we fill in the gaps!

Do you hate sales and cold calling? Great! There are people who love selling and wouldn’t want to do anything else.

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Bored to death with accounting? There are a ton of small accounting firms out there that will take care of that for you.

What about marketing? You can hire someone in-house or out-source that too.

Your job is to keep on top of all the different aspects of the business to make sure they are all running smoothly and getting the results you need. If not, it’s your job to figure out the problem and implement a solution.

Check out this guide and learn how to delegate effectively:

How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

8. Buy Insurance

No matter what kind of business you start, you need insurance! Yes, I know, no one likes to buy insurance, but it can literally be the difference between having a minor inconvenience and declaring bankruptcy.

We live in a very litigious time, even a minor slip and fall at your place of business could bankrupt you without insurance. If you need help finding a good agent, check with your local trade organizations or fellow business owners.

9. Start Branding Yourself

Has anyone ever ask you for a Kleenex or a QTip? We all know what they are because of branding, Kleenex is just a brand of tissue and QTip is just a brand of cotton swab. It doesn’t have to be as widely known as Kleenex or QTip, but you can make your brand a common name within your niche.

I once owned a manufacturing company that developed a product that was so popular that my competitors started co-opting my brand name for their products.

If you aren’t sure how to kickstart branding yourself, check out these ways:

5 Ways to Build your Personal Brand & Make More Money

The Bottom Line

Starting a business from scratch can be one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have.

But do you know what’s even more rewarding? Having a business that succeeds, is profitable and provides a good source of income for you, your employees and their family’s.

More Resources About Entrepreneurship

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

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