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How HR Can Increase Employee Happiness in One Hour a Week

Office ping pong table and a kitchen full of free snacks aren’t cutting it anymore.

Only a few years ago, all it took to keep employees “happy” was an office ping pong table and a kitchen full of free snacks. But those perks aren’t cutting it anymore. Workers want more meaningful perks that directly improve their quality of life. Fortunately, you can increase your employee happiness quotient in just an hour a week.

Here are seven different ways to do just that.

1. One hour “off the grid”

Constant communication can be positively exhausting for your employees. Give them the gift of disconnection for one hour every week.

That means no scheduled meetings, no sending or checking email, no making or taking phone calls, and no social media. With this free time, they can focus on projects that require deep, thoughtful concentration, sans interruption.

Their productivity will increase, and so will their level of satisfaction.

2. One hour of outside time

Sunshine and fresh air do wonders for just about anyone, especially if they’re glued to their computer screens all day.

Imagine if your entire office emptied out for one hour each week—ideally, the day with the nicest weather. They can take a walk, grab lunch, or do whatever they please without worrying that they’re needed back at work.

When they come back after an hour of outside time, they’ll be refreshed and ready to go.

3. One hour to come in late or leave early

Give your staff a “get out of work free” card that lets them come in an hour late or leave an hour early… without judgmental stares and sideways glances from the rest of the team.

It’s perfect for those days when life gets in the way—you’re running late to drop your kids off at daycare, you have to take the car for an oil change before the garage closes, your subway station was inexplicably out of service, you’ve got to get to a doctor’s appointment across town, etc.

Rather than have your staff stressed out the rest of the day, they can relax and take care of their lives without worry.

4. One hour of show and tell

Remember the good old days of show and tell? It’s time we brought it back.

Introduce rotating one-hour sessions where a few employees talk about what they’re currently working on. Each person talks for a few minutes, and they can show where they currently are in their project—in the middle of writing an article, making revisions on a design, whatever it may be. The rest of the team is invited to ask questions.

Show and tell is a great way to make sure everyone knows what everyone else is doing. Even better, it gives coworkers insight into each other’s skills and processes.

5. One hour to learn something new

Ongoing training is crucial for any employee, but it’s often the last priority in a busy environment. Encourage your staff to prioritize their own workplace development for one hour every week.

They can watch educational videos, read articles, take a tutorial or sign up for an online class. Ask senior employees to transfer their expertise to more junior employees. Facilitate cross-departmental sharing: Have your designers give a Design 101 training to account executives, or have social media managers teach Snapchat 101 to web developers. Encourage everyone to try learning a new language with a mobile app like Duolingo.

Knowledge will surge across the board. This is also a great way to increase respect between colleagues, who may otherwise take for granted what smart, capable people they work with every day.

6. One hour to find inspiration

When you’re working the same job day in and day out, it’s easy to fall into a rut and lose your motivation. Get your employees out of their rut with an hour of inspiration every week.

Invite speakers to your office from inside or outside your industry. Show TED Talks, videos from PBS “Great Performances,” or documentaries about inspiring people. Host a podcast listening session complete with coffee and snacks. Take a field trip to a museum or theater. (Okay, that might take more than an hour.)

Every team in any field will benefit from being exposed to new perspectives, compelling ideas, and artistic excellence.

7. One hour to play with puppies

And when all else fails… dogs! Several studies show that bringing animals into the workplace improves collaboration, creativity, and overall health, while reducing stress.

Partner with a local shelter to bring rescue dogs to your office for an hour each week. If your workplace is already pet-friendly, schedule an hour of playtime or a community dog-walk. If your office doesn’t welcome animals on a permanent basis, carve out one day when employees can bring their dogs.

Forget the ping pong table. All it takes is an hour a week to boost employee happiness.

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