Happiness in the workplace
To mark International Happiness at Work Week, we asked a handful of employees and employers what the key ingredients that create a happy workplace are for them
26 September 2023
Someone working in a full-time role, which on average equates to a 40-hour working week, will spend over 2080 hours at work over a 12-month period.
Given that this accounts for nearly 24% of our time overall during any given year, it is important to feel happy, satisfied and valued in the workplace. However, the ingredients that make for a happy workplace can mean and be rated differently from one individual to the next. During International Happiness at Work Week (25–29 September), OT asked employees and employers in two different practices what happiness at work means to them.
For Vaneesha Patel, an employed optometrist at Davis Optometrists, a Hakim Group practice, happiness at work means that she is able to wake up every day with a drive and motivation to “get set” for the day ahead.
“The work environment, the team I work with, and the feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day makes me happy,” she told OT.
Patel, who joined Davis Optometrists earlier this year, explained that her profession, of optometry, also plays a part. “The ability to change someone’s life by helping them see the world clearly, to the extreme of saving someone’s sight, also provides me with a sense of fulfilment and happiness,” she said.
The benefits of being happy in the workplace are far reaching and can affect our wellbeing outside of the workplace too. For Patel, feeling happy at work means that the level of stress she experiences is lower.
Being “less stressed overall leads to be a better work/life balance,” Patel shared, adding: “Most importantly if I’m happy at work I can perform to the best of my ability and deliver the best possible care to my patients.”
For optical assistant, Samantha Walter, who works at Specsavers Ludlow, happiness is “being surrounded by people who build you up and support you.”
Walter shared that “working in an environment where we are all friends and get along so well,” ultimately enables her and the team to be the best it can be, “which follows through into our patient care,” she said.
Earlier this month, during the Specsavers Professional Advancement Conference (PAC), Walter and her practice team colleagues were recognised for their excellent customer care through the Doug and Dame Mary Awards.
The award recognised the team for its commitment to supporting its local community, as well as how it came together and worked hard ahead of opening of its newly relocated practice.
Many employers will offer a range of different benefits to employees. These benefits can be both tangible and intangible, designed to support with attracting and retaining staff. But what do employees most value and what can employers do to ensure their staff are remain happy?
For Patel, it is reward and recognition that makes her feel most valued.
Reflecting on how this is achieved at Davis Optometrists, which has five practices within its group, she told OT: “Our managers and directors are constantly recognising our hard work and dedication.”
The group has an annual awards ceremony, which Patel feels helps to recognise the achievements of employees. Earlier this year during the awards ceremony, Patel was named Optometrist of the Year.
“Accepting the award within the first few months of joining the practice, I felt a sense of happiness and recognition of my continued hard work and patient care,” she said.
Throughout the year, employees at the practice are also rewarded through a range of incentives, including “thankful comments and praise for our work,” which Patel emphasised “helps with motivation and a feeling of purpose within the company.”
For Walter, what makes her feel valued is being heard, which she explained is achieved at Specsavers Ludlow through regular meetings and catch-ups.
“In our practice, we work hard to ensure each colleague is being ‘heard.’” Walter told OT, explaining that together they come up with ways to encourage each other to work as a team, supporting colleagues to achieve their goals in caring for patients.
“It makes me feel valued that our directors make such an effort to make us feel supported in our roles,” she added.
Patel highlights that investing in personal development also plays an important role in happiness for her at work, and recognises that her employer takes the time to help the team develop, allowing them to further reach their goals.
“There is always the opportunity to learn more, with consistent training sessions across a range of different topics. Our interests and opinions are always heard, which allows us to develop our skills and allow us to specialise in the areas that we enjoy the most,” Patel shared.
“Ultimately this leads to us feeling happy in our job and again helps us to perform better,” she added.
Most importantly if I’m happy at work I can perform to the best of my ability and deliver the best possible care to my patients
Turning the table, OT asked a practice partner, how do they ensure the happiness of your employees in the workplace?
For Lynn Carson, a partner at Davis Optometrists for over 40 years, it is about effective communication methods.
“We try to ensure the best possible communication with our team, and give them as many ways as possible to interact both with the management team and with each other,” she told OT.
“We make as much time as possible to listen to people and take a real interest in what they have to tell us,” she explained, adding: “We do our best to listen to what they need and help as much as possible. This may relate to changing their working pattern, furthering their education or career, or just sharing issues they have at home or work. We want them to enjoy their time at work, for their own wellbeing and for the atmosphere around the patients.”
When it comes to staff initiatives and incentives, Carson highlighted that as part of Hakim Group, the practice is able to offer its staff physical and mental health support through access to Simply Health – a health plan service.
“This was very well received as a team benefit,” Carson said.
“[It] has had a really positive impact on team morale as they are all more invested in their branches and their immediate and wider teams,” she added.