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Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace, and a whopping 51 percent of American workers are actively looking for a new job or watching for new job openings. Many cite a work culture that is not inviting, stimulating, or designed to foster community amongst employees. It’s no wonder so many of them are looking.
Since the State of the Global Workplace Report indicates 85 percent of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work, I wanted to share some easy-to-implement workplace happiness hacks. The goal is to break the monotony of a typical work day to reinvigorate and—dare I say it—bring a bit of fun into the workplace! Here’s to getting back to enjoying your work day.
1. Puppy Love
There is mounting research that shows the value of therapy dogs at work and how the practice reduces stress levels. Look to pet therapy organizations to have supervised visits or playtime with dogs trained for this kind of interaction.
Ready to add some four-pawed friends to your workday? Some animal shelters and Humane Societies have visiting dog programs where staff and animals visit workplaces to reduce stress, boost morale, and encourage teamwork in the workplace.
And this plan has serious results. According to the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, dogs are communication energizers and tend to spark conversations between employees. Staff who typically did not talk to one another before, were more engaged when a therapy dog was present. Therapy dog visits also offer employees the opportunity to increase productivity and create a relaxed atmosphere where you can feel more at ease to do your best work.
2. Ring a Success Bell
It’s pretty basic logic that if you do something well, it’s worth acknowledging the victory. But while recognition drives engagement for many at work, some workplaces are so decentralized that it’s rare to hear about the success of other teams throughout the organization.
To get around this, consider setting up a Success Bell (chime, tone, etc.) in an accessible space of the workplace. When someone in the office helps a client, makes a new sale, or achieves a tangible success, they ring a bell and everyone cheers. This group-win mindset is a great morale booster and also generates cross-communication between teams and departments to break down silos. If a bell isn’t your thing, you could also consider sending victory emails, having a gif party in your company chat, or simply recognizing accomplishments at your next all-team meeting.
3. Stock the Professional Toy Box
Savvy presenters know there are 3 ways of learning: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. I bring pipe cleaners, mini Slinkys, Koosh balls, fidget spinners, and tactile toys to encourage play during staff meetings and presentations as well as informal gatherings.
The physical act of playing with a toy releases stress and brings comfort. It also functions as a way to engage the brain for the kinesthetic learners who do best while touching or moving. The stimulus of the tactile toy interaction increases focus and leads to better retention.
In my experience, having these toys accessible regularly encourages play, active learning, and promote stress relief.
4. Top of the Hour Planks
Wellness in the workplace is all the rage. From standing desks to fitness trackers, the modern day professional is concerned about their health. And it’s for good reason: Our typical work life isn’t exactly optimized for physical and mental wellbeing. The biggest culprit? Sitting. In fact, study after study shows that sitting for extended periods can be harmful, so consider this voluntary group movement interaction in your workplace. Your body will thank you.
Try this: At the top of every hour, an audible sound announces a two minute exercise break throughout the workplace. Colleagues can choose from a variety of exercises to suit their fitness level, wardrobe of the day, or strength training/cardio focus. Think about how you can leverage two minutes of every hour you spend at work with jumping jacks, squats, planks, stair intervals or any other creative physical activity to get your body moving and your brain rebooted.
This group culture shift not only reinforces wellness but gives you a minimum of 18 minutes of motion activity for the typical nine-hour day to add to your personal workout regimen.
5. 18 Minutes of TED Inspiration
There is a reason that iconic TED Talks are limited to 18 minutes. TED curator Chris Anderson explained that 18 minutes is long enough to be serious and to short enough to hold people’s attention. It’s the perfect duration for a coffee break with interesting content.
If you work in an office, gather with colleagues to listen to an 18 minute TED Talk on a regular basis. These thought provoking presentations cover a myriad of topics and can get you revved up to do just about anything. To make it an extra special event, grab some brain-boosting snacks to nibble on.
6. Dream Time
Contrary to popular belief, busy does not equate with being productive. Give yourself permission to daydream for a few minutes each day. Think about where your career might take you two, five, even 10 years from now. Do you want to be in a more creative role? Have a job that lets you travel? Start your own business? Don’t focus on what’s possible or what you might have to do to get there—just allow your mind to wander.
If being still is a challenge, enlist the help of donothingfor2minutes.com. This accountability tool will help you relax and clear your head 120 seconds at a time. You deserve the time to dream.
Don’t wait for your employer to engage you at work. Consider how you can implement play and unexpected activities into your routine to relieve stress and create space for happiness.
This post originally appeared on Ellevate Network.
Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book “This Is Not the Career I Ordered” now in the 2nd edition, and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Executive Director of Career & Professional Development at the Indiana University Alumni Association and contributes to: Medium, Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Ellevate Network, and The Chronicle newspaper in Indiana. She hosts and produces an online show: Thrive! about career & life empowerment for women on YouTube. Caroline also hosts the international podcast series Your Working Life on iTunes and SoundCloud.