That feeling. When you can take on the world, or Monday, with a smile. When the printer just prints. When the little things you need, make the big things you’re planning, possible. When you’re in the zone, when you’re making a difference, or when you feel like a boss, even if you’re not. When it all just works.”
With the chilly weather making the morning commute less than pleasant this past month, and Blue Monday making everyone question their career choices, Staples Solutions created a pop-up ‘Happy Space’ in London recently to raise the spirits of office workers across the city. Featuring office puppies, giant SAD lamps and free massages, the event helped launch their recent research titled ‘In Pursuit of Office Happiness’, which took a detailed look at office spaces around the UK and how they impact the happiness and mental health of their workers. Whether it’s at home in your self-employed business, or in a corporate office with hundreds of colleagues around, workplace happiness has (or should have) a huge impact on all our lives.
I went along to the Happy Space last month to confirm my suspicions that freelance life gives us so much more freedom to take control of our own workplace happiness, but the office environment and its impact on wellbeing and mental health has always been incredibly important to the Desk Life Project community, and so the new research on this topic had me braving the cold to visit the event. The promise of cuddly Andrex puppies helped, of course.
The research was delivered by Professor Sir Cary Cooper CBE, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at ALLIANCE Manchester Business School, and President of the British Academy of Management, as well as of the Institute of Welfare. He is the author/editor of over 170 books, including ‘Wellbeing: Productivity and Happiness at Work’, ‘The Crisis Book’, ‘The Outstanding Middle Manager’, and ‘Handbook of Stress and Health’, among others. All-in-all, his work and research in this field is outstanding, and the room was packed with people who were eager to hear what he had to share.
Here are some of the worrying statistics that were revealed during the talk:
Most of the UK workforce don’t feel fulfiled in their job
It’s sad to hear, but the Staples study warned that most UK workers don’t feel valued or fulfiled in their offices, putting staff retention at risk. 68% of study participants said that they would feel more valued if their employers invested in their workspaces more. With the rise of cool and quirky coworking spaces in cities around the world recently, it’s not hard to see why employees might be feeling a little outdone.
At Staples our expertise goes well beyond office supplies to encompass all elements of the physical workspace. We shine the light on what makes the office tick. And we’re passionate about helping businesses create spaces that work – from the moment you first turn the lights on in the morning, to the moment you leave at night.”
Your workspace can affect your mental health
We’ve always promoted positive mental wellbeing at Desk Life Project, and in fact this blog was founded in part because of the amount of people experiencing burnout in their jobs. Shockingly, the study found that 81% of UK office workers say their office space has a direct impact on their mental health. With so many of us spending long hours, late nights and even weekends in our place of work, it’s important to feel safe, secure and happy in our offices.
Most people spend more of their waking hours at work than at home, so the workplace is really important for the health, wellbeing and performance of employees. As this report finds, 89% seek fulfilment at work, and the physical and psychological environment are critical to achieve this.”
– Professor Sir Cary Cooper
It’s not just about the employees
Going back to work after the Christmas period is always hard, but did you know that the lack of employee enthusiasm during the first months of the year is estimated to cost the UK economy £93 billion a year?! Thanks to absenteeism, low morale and reduced productivity, people just aren’t putting their all into their jobs, and this affects the employer and the business, too. Taking time to listen to employees, give them a voice and improve their working conditions is vital to retaining staff and maintaining a productive and efficient environment, which benefits everyone.
It doesn’t take much
A few small changes in the work environment could be all it takes to feel a shift in employee engagement. According to the study: “Perks, or happiness triggers, that respondents said they would like to have in their offices include an office dog (27%), healthy snacks (49%) and better stationery (23%).” The event also explored these slightly superficial elements of what some companies are doing to boost happiness in their organisation, including massages and… puppies (no, really, there were real life puppies available for cuddling!) Though I don’t believe that massages and puppies in your office break room can solve the fundamental problems in many workplaces today, the very fact that HR and company leaders are thinking of their employees as human beings and not endless fountains of productivity, means we are taking a step in the right direction.
Recognising the significance of stress and the importance of employee wellbeing, both in and out of the workplace, is crucial to maintaining the strong and healthy workforce that we all want for our businesses.
Are you happy at work? Or do you dream of escape daily? Let us know in the comments below, and be part of the conversation over on our Instagram!