We can probably all agree that there is a universal longing to be happy. And this pursuit of happiness is increasingly acknowledged outside of the private sphere: The World Happiness Report looks into various factors that shape our wellbeing; Governments around the world are now including happiness as a measure of success; The United Nations have declared an annual UN World Day for Happiness on 20 March. So why shouldn’t this apply to work as well?
There is a clear relationship between work and happiness. Businesses are taking notice as employees look for new ways of working and a work culture that is more in tune with their values and well-being. At SEC Newgate EU, we have our very own Happiness Practice, an employee-led initiative, that looks at ways our company can become apositive contributor to society, while also creating more happiness in our own team.
While the pursuit of happiness is a lifelong journey, here are a few tips on how organisations can create an environment conducive to more happiness at work.
Working on things that matter
‘Virtuous behaviour generally raises the happiness of the virtuous actor’ (World Happiness Report). For us, this means having the opportunity to work on things that have a positive impact on the world around us. We make a conscious choice to give meaning to our work: our teams support clients in addressing climate change, water sustainability, life-threatening diseases, while accelerating a just green transition and contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Building quality relationships
Happiness is intrinsically linked to social interactions and feeling supported. Having someone you can count on in times of need can make all the difference. We provide many formal and informal platforms to build those bonds with our teammates from the more informal pizza Thursdays, and potluck dinners, to the interactive karaoke nights and pub quizzes for pride month to the more formalized weekly team meetings with the entire company. Camaraderie is encouraged, a cut-throat culture is not.
Money doesn’t buy happiness, but a fair income definitely makes a difference! Whether to invest in a hobby, a trip across the world or a side business, a generous compensation package will be the starting point, particularly as the cost of living skyrockets. We offer competitive salaries, as well as multiple opportunities for additional income through performance and new business bonuses.
A healthy body and mind
Finding the right work-life balance means different things to different people, but there are some measures that can be put in place to support this. We have opted for a hybrid working model and adopted a work from abroad policy to give our employees flexibility. We also have given extra holidays around Christmas, birthdays and mental health days to allow our team to recharge and spend quality time with their loved ones. We also offer tools to manage the stress of their working lives, like meditation and breathing sessions, a ping-pong table to unwind, or a ‘nap room’ if they need some quiet.
Freedom to be who we are
Born from our Happiness Practice, we have a grassroots DEI taskforce which promotes the values of diversity, equity and inclusion, inside and outside our organisation. The taskforce organises DEI trainings, pride month celebrations, internal round tables on gender equality and much more. We also have a diverse team, with 18 different nationalities, speaking more than 30 languages combined, fostering a sense of belonging for everyone, without discrimination.
Giving back can be a powerful conduit to happiness. Our Happiness Practice leads on many initiatives that have a positive impact on our local and global environments. We have coordinated donations for the most recent political and environmental crises such as floods in Belgium, war in Ukraine and earthquakes in Turkey. We also look at our local footprint by doing annual food donations around Christmas time or participating in charity runs for local organisations.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suggests that self-actualisation – to become the best that we can be – is the ultimate aspiration we can have as humans. At work, this translates into meaningful growth and career development opportunities. For young professionals navigating a fast-paced world and a complex EU policy environment, access to knowledge and skills-building opportunities are key. This is why we’ve developed tailored training programmes to upskill and accelerate our people’s growth. Juniors are peered with senior mentors that help them navigate the corporate environment and high caliber senior advisors dedicate time to upskill the team. Investments in L&D increases every year to enhance both soft and hard skills, from confidence building or crisis management, to EU lobbying and DEI.
Ability to design our own roles
Employees expect greater flexibility to design or redesign their own roles and respond best to a flatter organisation. To enable a more participatory approach to management, we have set up an extended management team to include not only the C-level executives and directors, but also account managers, who meet monthly to discuss key issues, enable a more transparent work environment and ultimately build trust. We also encourage all our employees, from trainees to our most senior, to share ideas, own them, and make them a reality! You think it would be interesting to create a series of media debates? #BrusselsCalling was born. You believe it would be worth sharing our trade insights? We created our Trade Views newsletter. We encourage innovation, being proactive, and give you the time and tools to make it happen.
We know there is no magic recipe to achieve absolute happiness at work, but we do think all of these are a good place to start… And if you have any thoughts and tips, send them over! Let’s navigate this new era of happiness together.
Read more about how we create happiness at work.