Building a community in the workplace

The great thing about New Year’s resolutions is that they make you feel like a hero. You master up that marvelous list of things that you’d like to accomplish next year, you may even show it to some of your friends and then…nothing. You probably have no idea where you’ve left your last year’s resolution.

Because it’s not enough to wish for something. The definition of the verb should point you in that direction:  “to have a desire for”. While “having a desire for” is great, actually setting your mind to get that particular thing and “HOW” you’re going to achieve it is far more important.

That’s why we’re challenging you to stop wishing for a Happy New Year and start planning for a Happy New Year.

And since we’re in the business of happiness at work we will be your guiding elves throughout this planning process, to make sure that by the end of next year, you’ll see a significant increase in your team’s happiness level and business numbers.

Let’s get started with some basic principles, which you should keep in mind:

1. Respect is the biggest perk you can offer an employee.

2. The people in your team are the best at what they do, that’s why you selected them. So trust their decisions and let them know you support their actions.

3. Lead by example.

4. Don’t take people for granted. Even if there’s a contract between you and an employee, there is also a relationship there. One that needs to be smartly built.

5. Giving people freedom doesn’t mean losing control. They will be more productive, more satisfied with their work and more eager to give more, if they are free to build their own workspace.

6. You’re not Thor. The glorious burden of management is not just upon you. It’s on your entire team. You can manage their talent and development and they will manage the results. Trust your team.

7. Practice gratitude. We’ll never stop underlining the importance of being grateful and happy with what you’ve can achieved. Only then can you achieve even more. Sounds like something Confucius might have said, but 8. It’s the scientific truth: studies show that gratitude can increase happiness by 25%.

Now, let’s start planning.

First, you need to invest in building a community, a tribe. As Seth Godin puts it, you need to learn how to lead not manage, how to connect with people who think the same way you do. We thought about taking you through a journey of building a company culture that encourages happiness.

Then you need to learn all that you can about the people you’re working with. What are their aspirations, their anxieties, what are they really good at and how do they want to work? Are they happy?

By the end of next year, you should have been able to lay the foundation of a healthy company culture that promotes and supports happiness at work.

Step 1: Building a community

Building a community at work is key for your employee engagement strategy.


You usually have them in mind from the first interview. Is this person suited to the company values, are his personal values in line with the job he’s applying for etc. But people aren’t always aware of their values. Not everyone has clearly determined what is most important for them in life and decided to act upon those things. They might me unaware of some of the core beliefs that guide their own decisions.

Since you’re working closely with these people, every day, giving them your trust and support, it should make a lot of sense to know if you’re on the same page. Start with an open discussion and guide them towards asserting their personal values. You can help them using this step-by-step guide. Then bring up the company values and discuss them in comparison.

Now, to make it actionable, figure out how these common values apply in your everyday activities and behavior. If collaboration is one of those values, list the actions that should take place in that spirit. Like mentoring, for example. Keep the list somewhere visible and go through it once a month, together with your team.

According to the 2013 Emergent Workforce Study, 70% of employees who work for companies with a clear mission have high job satisfaction compared to just 34% of employees whose companies have no clear mission.


Find the WHY behind their actions. The WHY in their career path. In his essay for Harvard Business Review, Finding the job of your life, Gianpiero Petriglieri discovers the challenges and hardships of searching for a purpose and a deeper meaning in your career. “We call them “dream job” or “fulfilling life” and imagine them to be out there — at the other end of the marshes of torment, waiting for us to wade through a forest of doubts. Ready to understand us perfectly and delight us ever after. That very belief keeps us confused and stuck.” he says.

A possible solution? Encourage them to be truly honest with themselves and stay realistic. Ask them to write 3 things on a piece of paper: what they wanted to be, as kids, what they would never see themselves doing as a job and what brings them joy in life. Then ask them to reflect and come up with the answer to “What do I want from my career?”

Your job, as their leader is to ensure that the environment where they are functioning and their work are aligned with that. This will minimize one of the biggest risks of them being unhappy.

Find your own language

Inside jokes all the way. Create stories, create memories and have good laughs.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Abraham Lincoln biography, Team Of Rivals, quoted psychologist Erik Eriksen on saying that, in order to live a truly fulfilled life, you have to find an inner steadiness between three things: LOVE, WORK, and PLAY. “To pursue one realm with disregard to the others, is to open one’s self to ultimate sadness in older age, whereas to pursue all three with equal dedication is to make possible a life filled not only with achievement, but with serenity.” she says.

Find joy and energy in your interactions, think how some of the work tasks that are usually performed alone can be integrated into a team activity.

Identity building

So now you have more than one things in common. How do they come together in making you feel like your team and your company are special? What are you recognized for?

Your company brand is not only an external projection. Your values and mission statement should be the base of your way of working.

Try this brainstorming exercise one weekend or one late evening. If your team was in a movie, what would that movie be called? What would be its action?

Here’s a great example of a team with an identity. (They also happen to be part of our happy clients).


Get started with your 2014 Company Happiness Plan by going over your current way of working and your happiness level.

You should start of by building a community inside your company, where people share the same values, they are driven by a professional purpose and they feel like they belong.

Next, we’re going to talk about Employee Engagement and how it contributes to your company culture and, ultimately, to happiness at work. So stay with us and join our thought process with new ideas and comments bellow.

Image via Hubspot