Sarah Pugh Shares 15 Tips for Creating a Happy Workplace
At the 2021 Happy Workplaces Conference, we had a fabulous presentation from Sarah Pugh. I ask the speakers at our conferences to share 'nickable' ideas that people can put into practice and Sarah came up with no less than 15 of these.
Sarah has just become Chief Executive of Whizz Kidz, so a lot of this relates to when she was CEO at Heart of Kent Hospice.
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?
1. Banish appraisals
"We had them for years, nobody was keen on them. Instead we use a snapshot three times a year, built around our behaviours and values and personal development. If you do nothing else from this talk, do this."
Instead of appraisals, there is a six question snapshot form based on reflection on the past period, celebrating successes and looking at aspirations going forward. This takes place every four months.
2. Give people freedom within boundaries
"Set the guidelines and give people freedom within them."
If you ask people, they rarely want complete freedom. Instead we find they often say "give me a framework to work within, and then give me the trust to make my own decisions within that framework."
3. Use Liberating Structures
"I attended Happy's Liberating Structures Immersion Workshop. They were revolutionary for me, to enable me to fully engage everybody in our meetings and events."
Liberating Structures are 32 methods that avoid one or two people dominating meetings and enable an equal voice for all. Find out more here.
4. Have pets at work
"We let colleagues bring their pets into work in our hospice. It is definitely a way to help people feel happy and our patients loved them."
5. Colleagues not staff
"Don't use the word staff. Use 'colleagues' — it is just more adult-to-adult."
6. Stop making decisions
"Remove yourself as a leader from decision-making. Leave your people to make the key decisions."
Your people much closer to the front-line and more likely to know the best solution.
7. Weekly survey
"We introduced a weekly happiness rating with just four questions: what’s good, what’s not, what’s changed and how happy do you feel."
8. Our key behaviours to fulfil the values
"I care. I learn. I own. I improve."
9. Repeat, repeat, repeat
"Continually reinforce the behaviours."
Make sure the values are embedded in everything you do, not just a poster on the wall.
10. Adopt a key mindset
For Heart of Kent Hospice, it is "I am curious about improving care."
11. Share the book
"Once I discovered The Happy Manifesto, I gave it to all staff, at both HOKH and now at Whizz Kidz."
Download The Happy Manifesto for free here.
12. Break the rules
"Encourage colleagues to find the rules that don’t make sense, and get rid of them."
13. Snippets of joy
Encourage people to share their 'snippets of joy', especially in difficult times. Find those moments where things are going well and celebrate them.
14. Promote a coaching culture
Train your people to become coaches. That is now the standard approach that managers take at Heart of Kent Hospice. There are also some 'super coaches' who have got a full coaching qualification.
15. Make sure you are happy too
Are you yourself happy? If you're not happy, everybody else is going to be miserable too. Have you got a happy place? For Sarah it is a mountain in the Lake District.
Does it work? Is a happy workplace more effective?
"Yes. House of Kent Hospice went from Requires Improvement in 2016 to Outstanding within a year. At the same time patients in our care went from 347 to 911, despite employing the same number of employees.
"We achieved that through productivity, teamwork and happiness."
What are your tips for workplace happiness? Or which of these will you implement?
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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 us for 2024, there will be interaction, discussion, space for reflection and opportunities to network with others.
All tickets are currently half-price until January 2024.
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