A happier new year

Got a dose of the post-holiday blues? Perhaps you need to get a bit more happiness into your office life...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Nobody likes January – short days, miserable weather, and not a bank holiday in sight. Now IT group HP wants to help us beat the New Year blues with the help of its independent ‘Chief Happiness Officer’ Alexander Kjerulf – apparently ‘one of the world’s leading experts on happiness in the workforce’ – who has come up with ten ways to make us happier bunnies in our working lives.

According to an HP-commissioned survey, one third of all SME employees think that happiness could be improved within their offices. This sounds impressive, until you realise this means that a remarkable two thirds think there is no conceivable way their offices could get any happier. Where exactly do these lucky blighters work?

Anyway, it’s up to us to put that right. ‘Although management teams should be encouraging these behavioural changes from the top down,’ Kjerulf beamed cheerfully, ‘we’re all ultimately responsible for our own happiness, and this includes our happiness at work.’ So if you’re miserable in the office, you have nobody to blame but yourself...

Some of the tips are sensible and straightforward, like: ‘find out what makes you happy at work’; ‘say good morning to your colleagues’; ‘start meetings on a positive note rather than a problem’; ‘take five minutes of ‘me time’ each day to reflect on your feelings’ (though good luck explaining that one to your boss). Others sound easier said than done, like ‘build a culture of praise’ and ‘cut through red tape’.

Of course, this isn’t entirely a selfless gesture by HP. One of its key conclusions is that flexible working fosters happiness, which means small businesses should be coughing up for the kind of swanky laptops and PDAs produced by – you guessed it – HP. Still, it’s got the facts and figures to support its argument: according to its survey, more than half of SME employees agree that this is the way forward.

HP is also running a competition where one lucky SME will win a £10,000 ‘office makeover’. Admittedly your team would have to endure some ‘happiness workshops’ (whatever that means) as part of the prize, but never fear – the big pile of free IT kit should be enough to put a smile on your face...

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