For most of us, the prospect of the weekend or annual leave are a golden, dangling carrot that eggs us on to push through the working week. But whilst a good work-life balance is crucial to our overall happiness, wellbeing and ultimately success, should we be so eagerly wishing away our time at work?
Statistics show that one in three people in the UK are unhappy in their workplace, which is an alarming figure. We will all work for roughly a third of entire lives, so is it right that we simply accept that such a huge portion of our time is spent being unhappy, dissatisfied, or even worse, downright miserable? Would it not be better if we could revolutionise and rejuvenate the workplace so that it was associated with feelings of inspiration, contentment and fun?
If this concept seems almost laughable because of your current working practices, you need to read on. I promise you that there are at least 6 steps that you can take to inject enjoyment back into your business.
As human beings, research suggests that we have six basic needs, one of which is to have a purpose in life. What that exact purpose is will differ for everyone, but it’s crucial that you find yours at work.
For many business owners the purpose of why they established their company is clear. It may be that you wanted to enrich people’s lives with a particular product or service, or maybe you wanted to offer support, guidance or share your valuable knowledge. Whatever that purpose may be, it’s vital that you consistently revisit that underlying reason and ensure that you are still fulfilling it. If you’re not, you should look at ways to adapt and overhaul your working practices to get you back on track.
If you have employees, or are an employee yourself, finding your purpose at work can be more challenging. We all understand what is expected of us via our job description, but very few people have been shown what a positive impact they make and how their work helps others. As a manager or business owner, one of the most powerful and valuable roles you have is to help your team see the bigger picture and to educate, train and support your employees so that they can not only understand their purpose, but can also personalise it and thrive.
Having a clear purpose at work will bring a huge amount of satisfaction to everyone, and will also ensure that your company’s vision and underlying ‘raison d'être’ is at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Loving What You Do
Why did you establish your business? Why did you apply for your role? Why did you train in your profession? Going right back to the start will help you to understand why you do your job and remind yourself of the passion and determination you once had.
In an ideal world, the easiest way to have fun at work is by doing something that you love. This probably sounds like an obvious statement, and possibly also sounds unrealistic for some, but you really can design your working life so that at least 80% of what you do is something that fulfils your passion and enables you to flourish and pursue your particular talents.
The key here is delegation. I’m not implying that you ‘palm off’ anything you don’t enjoy and give it some other poor person in your company though! In order to successfully delegate, you first need to document everything you do and highlight what you enjoy, what you have to do and what could be better done by someone else. Once you’ve done this, you can identify the gaps in your business and look for people who will enjoy the tasks that don’t bring you happiness.
For example, for me, compliance is not something that I overly enjoy; however, it’s necessary. To overcome this, I spoke to my team and identified the individuals who do enjoy, and actually thrive, at this sort of work. By delegating some of my compliance responsibilities to them I felt far happier and they felt that they were completing work that gave them a clear purpose, increased responsibility and played to their strengths. I’m happy and so are they.
The essence of what I’m saying is this: allocate work according to personal passions, strengths and personalities. Job descriptions don’t have to be rigid and unchanging, so talk to your team and discover how they like to work and what makes them happy. That way, you can delegate to the best people and also boost overall productivity and satisfaction.
It’s fair to say that there will be certain elements of your role that you can’t delegate. Sometimes eradicating every task that you don’t enjoy won’t be possible, so it’s important to think creatively about how you can still complete the work but in a way that’s better for you. For example, if you don’t enjoy writing, maybe you can dictate work and then have it transcribed? If you don’t like sitting in endless meetings, try having the same conversations over lunch or during a walk.
“If you’re not growing, you’re dying” is a phrase that resonates with us all. Stagnation and unproductive repetition are two of the most poignant reasons that people feel dissatisfied and undervalued at work. Plus, accepting mediocrity and consistently pushing the same failing strategies in your business will only ever lead to the same results.
In order to grow your business and inspire and excite your employees and clients, innovation is key. When you look at some of the corporate success across the globe, the brands that are miles ahead of the rest are often those that aren’t afraid to continually adapt, develop and embrace news ways of working. If you consider companies such as Google, Apple, Tesla and Amazon, all of these giants share one common trait: they consistently innovate.
Innovation itself is a huge topic and there are an infinite number of ways that you can bring this feature into your business. The important points to remember though are that innovation doesn’t have to mean a huge shift or complete overhaul; sometimes micro-changes and tweaks make a colossal difference. The key is to not shy away from constant innovation. Looking at ways to revitalise your business on at least a quarterly basis is a great starting point.
It's also important to include your team in your innovative ways of thinking. Ask everyone to share their ideas and allow them to shape the business that they are working in. Knowing that you have helped to increase profit, improve operations, or even drive forward a shift in company culture is incredibly rewarding and will make your company feel fresh, progressive and an exciting place to be.
Constant and Never-Ending Improvement
As alluded to in the last point, in order to continually succeed and keep your company feeling fresh and exciting, constant growth and never-ending improvement need to be embraced. That ‘change mind-set’ is what will keep on reinvigorating your business and ensure that you, your team and your clients are happy, engaged and, most importantly, feel valued.
For some people, especially those who come from bigger companies, constant change can be somewhat unsettling at first. However, for a company to succeed, it must constantly adapt, innovate and move with the times. Forward thinking companies are generally the happiest, as they refuse to become stagnant and out of date.
We must all learn not only to not fear change, but to also embrace it enthusiastically, and perhaps even more importantly, to encourage and drive it. A game-changing attitude is one that never accepts or becomes too comfortable with the status quo because, historically, the companies that get into trouble are the ones that are not able to respond quickly enough and adapt to change.
Although change can and will come from all directions, it is important that most of the changes in the company are driven from the bottom up -- from the people who are on the front lines and closest to the clients and the issues. As with most of the points here, always work with your team and ask for their valuable input. Ultimately, if they are unhappy, allow them to feel completely at ease to express this and suggest ways to improve.
Over the last decade, company culture has become big business. Nowadays, one of the driving factors for employing and retaining the best talent is not the basic salary or holiday allowance, it’s the experience of working for a company.
In the last few years, whenever I’ve interviewed prospective candidates, nearly all of them have asked me to describe our culture. They want to know what values we have, how we inspire and educate our team, what we do to support the wider community and the environment, and why I am still passionate about my company. Trust me, it’s really not just about the job title and remuneration.
In my mind, company values are one of the keys to success and satisfied customers, and are at the very core of any company’s culture. If you haven’t sat down with your team and documented what your exact values are, you must do this immediately, and make sure you communicate them to everyone, especially your customers.
The values you create will give you an unshakable foundation, where your people want the business to succeed and actively invest in themselves to create a better company. Once you truly ‘live’ these values, you will be able to expand the services you can offer and have happier clients and a happier team.
Aside from values though, it’s important to ask your team what changes they want to see in the workplace. Some of these might be small additions, such as promoting healthier living by offering free fruit, or sometimes they might be huge shake-ups, for example flexible working, uncapped holiday or an education allowance. Whilst there might be costs involved, as long as these changes are viable, they will make your company a far more personal, enjoyable and positive place to be.
Merging Business with Fun
One of our company’s founding principles is ‘fun’. When we talk about this concept, we mean thinking outside of the box about how and where you build new connections, generate new ideas or establish new relationships. Hint: it’s not always in a boardroom!
Whether you are a director, manager or employee, we all have one thing in common: we all have interests and passions outside of work. If you really want to infuse fun into your business, it can be highly beneficial to merge the two from time to time. That could mean regular team building days, where you establish productive working relationships in an informal and enjoyable location, or it could mean networking whilst playing a sport or enjoying a delicious meal out.
At The Trusted Team have a passion for merging fun with business through our events and activities. Whether you enjoy a round of golf with some fellow professionals, or fancy a weekend away on the piste, we organise a wide range of activities for our members and guests, so that they can meet likeminded individuals, build stronger and more meaningful relationships, but most importantly instil their working lives with fun. Our team and clients love this element of our business, and it gives them something to look forward to and adds an exciting diversification to their daily, working lives.
For us, ‘fun’ also comprises wellbeing and happiness. Wanting your business to succeed can often mean that you direct all of your energy and effort into working. Overtime, this can leave you feeling burnt out, but neglecting your health and wellbeing can have far more severe consequences. Health is something that we all need to be fiercely passionate about, so incorporating some simple changes to keep you energised and fighting fit, both mentally and physically, could be the single most important way that you change your business for the better.
There are no rules regarding how to bring fun into your business, but hopefully some of these points will spark some creative ideas for you, so that you can turn a possibly bleak working existing into one that energises, excites and inspires you, your team and your clients.