Do you know how happy your business is? Probably not — because in business, it’s easy to focus on one thing: PROFIT.
Tips for a more successful, more profitable, more powerful business are everywhere. And we soak them up because, well… who doesn’t like money?
But money isn’t everything.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I like to make money as much as the next guy. And a business that isn’t profitable isn’t a business for very long.
(That is, unless you’re some mega-Internet start-up with a bunch of folks sinking millions into you. But let’s be honest, that’s few and far between.)
So here’s a new twist on a common idea: Instead of tips for a more profitable business, what about tips for a happier business? Businesses don’t have feelings, so I really mean the people of the business, your team. But people usually ARE the business.
There are a few things that help our company work in a culture of happiness, and I’d like to share them:
1. Flexible Hours
2. Passive Communication
3. Flex Days
4. Encouraged Vacation
Working 9 to 5 is great and all, but what if it’s 78 degrees and sunny outside? Maybe that’s a good time for a picnic and not work.
What about when it rains all day and your spouse is out of town? That may be a good day to put in an 8 to 12:00 a.m. kind of run.
Or maybe you can’t sleep and you want to knock out some work from midnight to 3 a.m. while it’s quiet and no one is interrupting you? Great!
We love flexible hours at Design Extensions. It lets us take time to have breakfast with our kids or lunch with our spouses, and still pound out some serious work when needed.
Now, the work still has to get done, obviously, but when it’s done should be as flexible as possible.
Clearly, this doesn’t work for everyone and every business. But if you try to find a way to be as flexible as possible, you may find a whole new level of happiness — for your team, and yourself.
Phone calls, text messages, IMs, and in-person meetings are one of the biggest time and productivity killers of business.
I know, I know. Sometimes you really do need to call, text, IM, or meet. But MOST of the time, passive communication is far superior in so many ways.
By passive communication, I mean any type of communication that does not imply the need for an immediate response.
“Instant messages” are for “instant answers.”
Before you pick up the phone to call or text, or decide to set up a meeting, ask yourself, “Could this be handled with an e-mail or a post on our project management system?”
When people are interrupted or feel their time is being wasted or demanded, they feel unhappy.
Unhappy isn’t fun. And your team shouldn’t have to feel that way.
So give your team, vendors, and clients the courtesy of replying on their own time if you don’t really need to know the answer right now.
Design Extensions never had a central office until a few years ago.
Truth be told, it’s really nice to have an office that’s buzzing with energy and talent while offering a great space to meet with clients.
And now that our team and client amount have grown, it’s important to come into the office and work together in a shared space. But it’s also important to offer a little flexibility, which is why Wednesdays are flex days.
On Wednesdays, our team is free to work from whatever space they want that gives them energy and makes them happy. It’s a nice little “break” in the middle of the week, and it’s just one more way to keep the team happy.
Remember: The people are the business!
Here’s a crazy idea. Encourage your team to use up all their vacation days. I’m not kidding. If you can, provide unlimited vacation days!
If you hire good people who care about their job and are responsible, they deserve it — and they won’t abuse it.
If you’re an owner, you have an unlimited amount of vacation time (and by that, I mean you never get to go on vacation). But really, you do. You can manage your own schedule. If you need to take a Friday off to do whatever, you can find a way to do it.
Let your team take vacation when they need it and encourage them to use up all their vacation days.
Granted, the work still needs to get done and there may be times of heavy workload where no one can take time off for a couple weeks, but when you hire good people, you don’t need to worry about how many days they’re logging for vacation.
Speaking of vacation, buy one for your team.
Yes, I mean it.
Years ago, we started what we call “workcation,” where the whole team takes a week off together. We bring our families and our laptops. We work a little, we play a lot, and we may (or may not) consume a few beverages.
Flexible hours and flex days are great, but they have the downside of not having as much in-person interaction. That stuff is important, even for a hermit crab like me.
Our team likes to rent a big beach house and just hang out with everyone for the week. The actual location and details may vary, but the idea is to get together and have a good time, even while working. This is something we all look forward to, and we keep adding to it and improving it every year.
Budget for it. Make it happen. Workcation will make for a happier business!
Because again, remember: The people are the business!
While flexible hours, passive communication, flex days, encouraged vacation, and workcation all help create a culture of happiness, we really strive to be happy at work every day. Our team relies on our core values to get through the good days, the bad days, and every day in between.
If you want a happy business, then you need happy people.
Take our ideas or come up with your own, but at the end of the day, know that your business’s success is your responsibility. The happier your employees are, the happier your business will be, and the greater your success will likely be, too.