Arbejdsglæde: happiness at work, Danish style

March 29, 2016 happy-admin

by Bonnie - March 17, 2016

Law of Jante- Its Scandinavian socialist roots may be a little outdated in today's Danish workplace, however the Law of Jante is quintessentially Scandinavian and reminds us of that no matter what hat we wear; as a leader, friend, mentor, father or just as a decent human being, the timeless value of humility, teamwork and contributing to the collective greater good.

Working for a fantastic tech start up in Denmark, I was fascinated by how they managed to attract top notch people to the business without paying the highest salaries. If money wasn't the driver, what else was it that drew these people to the proverbial flame? Adbejdsglæde: literally translated to happiness at work. Nothing is for free in life, except these 5 tips on what the Danes do so well.

1. Agility. If you expect your people to embrace change, champion the philosophy by broadening your parameters of work. Previously seen only as a perk for mothers of young kids, remote working, compressed working weeks and an ability to purchase additional leave are changing the game, and significantly boosting engagement.

2. Support health.  See that $1 coin? For every one of those you invest in your people's health, you'll see $6 of them in return. Adopt some health promoting policies such as providing healthy food in meetings, utilising stand up desks, switching to walking meetings, or including health insurance as part of a remuneration package. Consider health programs such as assistance in quitting smoking, daily walking clubs, lunchtime yoga, meditation space, a bottomless pit of fresh fruit, and environmental changes such as bike racks, showers (with fluffy towels!), or providing a "bike allowance" as a cheaper alternative to a "car allowance". You'll reap the benefit in lower absenteeism, stress concerns, team conflict, and turnover.

3. Tailor your rewards. The intertwine between personal and work life means your reward structure shouldn't have to directly benefit the business. The reward for the company comes from refreshing the employee and acknowledging they have a life outside work which often takes the back seat to tough work deadlines and expectations. Giving your superstar two days off to play golf, paying for a surf lesson, or a long weekend to spend time with family will do wonders for their engagement level. Not everyone wants the typical leadership training as a reward for a job well done. People bring their whole selves to work, they don't leave their issues and challenges and worries at the door and acknowledging that their desire to better themselves is bigger than just their work capacity is a huge shift in our current workplace paradigm.

4. Purpose- Connect their individual output to the greater business success, and reaffirm this connection frequently. Everyone wants to feel their work is making a difference to the big picture.

5. Feedback. Many companies are jumping on the feedback bandwagon, which is so exciting to see. Ditch the yearly performance review in favour of very regular touch points where feedback is given as the behaviour or performance is occurring.

Over to you! What drives you to put in the extra 10%?