By Caroline Dowd-Higgins 

Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace. A whopping 51% of American workers are actively looking for a new job or watching for new job openings. Many site a work culture that is not inviting, stimulating, or designed to foster community amongst employees.

Since the State of the Global Workplace Report indicates 85% of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work, I am eager 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!

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.

Some animal shelters and Humane Societies also have visiting dog programs where staff and animals visit workplaces to reduce stress, boost morale, and encourage team work in the workplace.

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 offer employees the opportunity to increase productivity and also create a relaxed atmosphere.

Ring a Success Bell

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.

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.

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.

Having these toys accessible regularly encourages play, active learning, and promote stress relief.

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. We know that sitting is the new smoking so consider this voluntary group movement interaction in your workplace.

At the top of every hour, an audible sound announces a 2 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 2 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 9 hour day to add to your personal workout regimen.

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.

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.

Grab some brain-boosting snacks to nibble on. Blueberries, black currents, and nuts have all been shown to help your brain function better. TED breaks are a great way to feed your mind and inspire you to act.

Dream Time

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 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.

Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book “This Is Not the Career I Ordered” now in the 2ndedition, 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.

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