Happy Recognised as One of the Top 15 Workplaces in Europe

In: BlogDate: Sep 19, 2022By: Henry Stewart

Happy is very proud to have been rated in the top 15 of the Best Workplaces in Europe, in the Small Company category.

It is based 70% on a survey of staff and 30% on the submission we send to back this up. Everybody at Happy was involved and this blog is based on that submission, brought together by Claire Lickman and Lucy Blake.

In this blog, find out more about Happy's culture that influenced the judges' decision.

Hi, we are Happy

We are leading a movement to create happy, empowered and productive workplaces.

How can we help you and your people to find joy in at least 80% of your work?

More about Happy

So what makes Happy one of the best workplaces in Europe?

The key is that we truly aim to live our seven values: help people feel good about themselves, believe the best, trust others, create customer delight, celebrate mistakes, make the world a better place and create change, be innovative and creative. This is something that our people strive for in every interaction they have, both internally and externally.

It feels like we are working together to achieve a shared goal rather than competing against each other, and really feels like you are a part of a family who cares about each other.Laura Ffrench, Account Manager

Here are just some of the ways that we create such a great place to work.

Caring for our people

At the beginning of the pandemic, Happy lost 95% of its income. The key role of our leadership team was to ensure people were cared for. Cathy Busani, our Managing Director, shared the principles of the Canadian Federal Parks Agency. Two of the six points were:

  1. You will be kind to yourself and not judge how you are coping based on how others are coping.
  2. You will be kind to others and not judge how they are coping based on how you are coping.

On 24 April, I sent an update to the whole organisation on Happy's finances to give everyone a realistic picture, also saying: "Happy needs you well rested and well nourished. Maintaining our wellbeing is as vital as the finances. Try to avoid working outside normal hours and get the rest and support you need. Let me or Cathy or Sabina or your M&M [Happy's equivalent of a people manager] know if you are finding it difficult (because life is genuinely tough at the moment)."

In July 2021 we asked how people felt they had been supported through the crisis. The response was remarkable: 11% said Good; 44% said Excellent: 44% said Fantastic.

Even though I often worked in a quiet room at Happy, I knew people were around to support me if needed. When the COVID-19 pandemic started and I realised that we had to work from home, I felt worried and hesitant that I wasn’t going to be supported. Then Henry and Cathy started to call me on a weekly basis to check how I was feeling and to assure me that they would be there in case of need. I felt fully supported knowing that I could reach them in case of distress, which I did, especially when trying to find out how to process the furlough claim from HMRC.France Gallego, Finance Manager

Before the pandemic and now we are back to the 'new normal', caring for our people has always been important at Happy:

When my daughter was unwell and in hospital, I had been at Happy only 6 months or so and still felt like a new member of staff. This was a really difficult time, but Sabina (my M&M), said ‘don’t worry about work, just concentrate on your daughter, we can sort out a plan together’. Happy gave me 10 days dependency leave – you don’t expect this for an adult daughter. Happy was extremely flexible about me coming back to work and even sent me flowers and a card, saying I was in Happy’s thoughts. This touched me so much and I cried happy tears! I’m so grateful for the kindness and support which meant so much to me at such a difficult time.Maureen Bowen, Account Manager
We have a room in the office named ‘Calm’. It is used as a prayer room as well as other things. It is very reassuring to know I don’t have to leave my religion out of the office. I don’t have to choose between my profession or my beliefs. In the little room called Calm, I can privately and safely meditate, reflect, read a book and sometimes get a quick power nap. Cool right? My workplace acknowledges other faiths and beliefs and I feel accepted. We have a yearly cultural calendar available that allows us to know when it is Hanukkah, Eid, Chinese New Year and other festivals. I’m simply saying, ‘A workplace that is inclusive is a good recipe for success’.Sal Agoro, IT Skills Trainer

Radical Disruptions

At Happy we don’t have targets or OKRs. Instead, our people came up with the idea of a Radical Disruption. The Radical Disruption is a call to action, and an opportunity for each of us to identify and work on a radical idea that has the potential to disrupt and change ways of doing things or improvement at an individual or organisational level.

My last radical disruption was to design a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic apprenticeship programme. This has been a challenging goal, not only to learn about how biases, privilege and inequalities show up in the workplace but how this has blocked Black, Asian and Minority Ethnics from becoming team leaders or managers. My goal has been to create a programme to acknowledge the challenges and to support and encourage Black, Asian and Minority Ethnics to pursue management roles. For the first cohort of this programme, we have had 24 people sign up. This has really excited me and I feel really proud.Maureen Egbe, Apprenticeships Facilitator

But it can also be about personal development. Sal Agoro explains: "I have always wanted a tidy mailbox so a recent Radical Disruption was to crack my email overload problem using 321Zero. With this radical disruption I was able to achieve a Zero mailbox goal and easily focus on other things."

Transparent finances

Everyone at Happy is encouraged to understand the finances, both of their own department and of the whole organisation.

Coming from working within a large banking and financial organisation I was astonished at how open and transparent Happy is when it comes to anything financial. The senior management team regularly share content in detail about Happy’s financial affairs, including what’s in the bank account. This is something I've never experienced before in any organisation I’ve worked for.Maureen Bowen, Account Manager

Nicole Martins, our Apprenticeship Business Development Manager and Administrator, explains: "At Happy, we are asked to vote on decisions which influence company finances. During a staff meeting I was asked to vote on something, but I chose not to because I didn’t fully understand the implications of my choice.

"After the meeting, Henry met with me and talked me through the company finances and how they work. He explained how my team were doing and made the financial targets we were working towards clear. Henry taking the time to do this showed me he valued my input as a member of staff and wanted to ensure I was able to make informed decisions about Happy next time we were asked to vote on major financial decisions."

And, of course, salaries are also transparent:

I was incredibly surprised to find out there was a spreadsheet at Happy with everyone’s salaries on it. I have never worked in a company where this information was readily available. For previous employers I have worked for, pay was something I was asked not to share or even discuss with colleagues.Laura Ffrench, Account Manager

Overall

There are many other ways that we create a create workplace, from people’s first interactions with us through our recruitment policy, to ensuring that people work to their strengths and that people are managed by people who they want to be managed by.

As well as creating joy at work for our people, a happy workplace culture is good for results. Happy lost £300,000 in the first year of the Pandemic but, coming out of the pandemic, we are solidly profitable.

This year we are able to give our people the full inflation rise (10.1%, with a minimum of £4,018) and to give over £3,000 to each person in Profit Related Pay.

Happy workplaces = happy customers = happy profits.

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Henry Stewart, Founder and Chief Happiness Officer

Henry is founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Happy Ltd, originally set up as Happy Computers in 1987. Inspired by Ricardo Semler’s book Maverick, he has built a company which has won multiple awards for some of the best customer service in the country and being one of the UK’s best places to work.

Henry was listed in the Guru Radar of the Thinkers 50 list of the most influential management thinkers in the world. "He is one of the thinkers who we believe will shape the future of business," explained list compiler Stuart Crainer.

His first book, Relax, was published in 2009. His second book, the Happy Manifesto, was published in 2013 and was short-listed for Business Book of the Year.

You can find Henry on LinkedIn and follow @happyhenry on Twitter.

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Next Conference: 2024 Happy Workplaces Conference

Our Happy Workplaces Conference is our biggest event of the year, and we'd love for you to join us on Wednesday 15th May.

This will be a hybrid event — we will host up to 50 people in the venue at Happy's HQ in Aldgate, London, and up to 200 people online via Zoom. The speakers will be a mix of online and in person. However you choose to join, there will be interaction, discussion, space for reflection and opportunities to network with others.

This year's event is CPD accredited, and speakers include Isaac Getz, Michele Zanini, Caron Bradshaw OBE and Michelle Hill.

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