How to become as happy as a Google employee

Have you seen just how happy those guys at Google are? Learn how to be as happy at your work as a Google employee is at theirs.

Google employees really are a happy bunch of folk. Here's why, and how you can follow their lead to make your own working environment more fun, creative and productive.

The Google workplace (they call it a campus) is like a big playground! It has a slide and a secret ladder (instead of stairs), employees can use scooters to get between meetings, and there are plenty of old-school games stations like table tennis to encourage activity, interaction and creative thinking. And the healthy living angle doesn't stop at the activities. Google also supplies really healthy snacks for employees, including energy and protein bars based on natural ingredients, and coconut water to drink. Lunches at the canteen are based around natural, nutritious foods, and colour-coded to help employees make informed choices about what they eat

Google is regularly ranked amongst the top places to work in the world (http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/best-companies/2013/snapshots/1.html?iid=bc_sp_list). Whilst your own organisation might not have the budget, resources, contacts or cash-flow to implement the exact aspects of workplace design that Google can achieve, there's plenty we can all learn from the approach.

Beyond the games, funky colours and innovative modes of transport, Google culture is actually pretty pared-down. The bottom line is a focus on simplicity, energy and positive experiences. This is great news for your organisation, because it's stuff we can all take on board and replicate, whether we work in an SME or as a sole trader. Here are some great ideas to try, inspired by those happy employees at Google's main campus:

Stock your work kitchen with healthy foods. Whether you work at home or have a small work kitchen stocked with snacks for your team, make sure you keep healthy choices around. This will help you and your employees avoid the distraction of regular snacking breaks and will break the poor habits of mindless, emotional eating out of frustration or boredom. And, of course, healthy eating leads to better physical health, energy, focus and clarity.

Build activity into your working day. Can you walk or cycle to work? Take an activity break at lunch time to walk around the block? Consider walking to meetings rather than taking the lift, and walking to talk to colleagues rather than pinging a one-liner email. A great idea to take from Google is that of the standing desk: you can easily create your own in order to raise your computer, lap top or workstation to ergonomic chest-height. Standing desks encourage vitality, energy, creativity and innovative thinking, and help avoid RSI and back pain.

Work happiness into your business culture. Happy employees are more creative, more focused and more productive. They enjoy better physical and mental health, take fewer sick days and are more loyal. By managing stress and making your workplace a happier place to be, you'll attract better employees and retain the great ones you've got, reducing turnover, absences, recruitment and associated costs. Use in-house initiatives to support, encourage and reward healthy lifestyle choices. Employee happiness does translate to your bottom line!

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