Softwire’s Key Responsibilities, #1 – Be Happy

31 March 2014, by

This is the first in a series looking in depth at the five “Key Responsibilities” that Softwire asks of its employees, as outlined in this post.

It’s really important to Softwire that our employees are happy. That’s not because we’re an amazing altruistic organisation whose only goal is to increase the amount of joy and happiness throughout the world – although that’s a nice side-effect. In fact, there are plenty of tangible benefits to having happy staff:

  • It helps us achieve our high (90%+) staff retention rate, which means we can justify the extra time we spend training our staff, spend less effort on recruitment, and provide continuity of service and knowledge to our customers
  • When people are actively looking forward to coming into work, motivated to get things done and have high satisfaction in a job well done, it has an amazing effect on our productivity, and on the quality of our output, which helps us to get so much repeat business
  • Happiness is infectious: we love working with smiley, happy people and that makes us happy too – a virtuous circle!

For that reason, our first Key Responsibility is “Be Happy”. We ask people to take responsibility for their own happiness, because they’re best placed to judge the success of the venture. If we didn’t do this, we would be at risk of people not fully realising that they should be enjoying their job. By default, people don’t tend to flag up “I’m not having fun at work” as an issue, on the assumption that doing things you don’t enjoy is just business as usual. That’s not good enough for us.

Of course, it takes more than just telling people to be happy to foster a happy and enjoyable workplace. Jamie has mentioned a few other things that help in this post. We also encourage everyone to talk to their Line Manager , or a director, or anyone else they think might be able to help, about ways to make their job more enjoyable.

As I allude to above, all your colleagues have a stake in your happiness too, and there’s often quite a lot they can do. If there’s an aspect of your current role that you dread doing every week, it’s often possible to find someone who doesn’t mind doing it, find a different way of doing it, or find a way to avoid having to do it at all. If you really don’t get on with your current project, there’s plenty of other projects to try your hand at.

Beyond that, there are of course the many and varied morale events, which provide some after-work relief and help to make work a more friendly place. Recently we realised that, since we’re all working here because we enjoy technology and coding, we should run more tech-based morale events. Hence our speed programming competitions, virtual reality experiments, SoftCon, and fortnightly Pizza n Programming, where we all get together to work on our various side projects and eat far too much pizza.

I hope you can apply some of these ideas to your own workplace. If you have any suggestions, please drop them in the comments below. And most importantly, keep smiling!

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