Focus On More Than Expat Happiness – Include Your Entire Team

Happy business team smiling at each other in the office.: Focus on more than your expat's happiness, look at your entire team

Researchers are in agreement that happy people are more productive and successful. So what can you as a Global Mobility manager do to make your current talent and new hires happy? Is happiness even your job?

Make a difference

Oh yes, this is how you, in your HR role, can truly make a difference. One company recently renamed its HR chief to Director of Happiness to highlight the end goal for the role. But bringing people to Northern Europe, where co-workers are known to be introverts, can create interesting challenges. As always, it’s the small things that make the whole a success.

Defining happiness

So, what can we do to make expats happy?

How can we measure happiness in the workplace?

Does everyone want to be happy?

For some people being negative is part of their persona. Have you tried telling a New York comedian to tell happy jokes? It can’t be done — jokes have to be negative, sarcastic and over the edge for people to laugh. But is it a happy laugh?

The key is to find effective and inexpensive ways to achieve happiness. You can, of course, figure out ways to measure happiness levels in the interview process. However, today let’s just work with what we have in your workplace.

There are a few things across the globe that make people happy. It isn’t money, although living in a safe environment with accessible healthcare for instance does show up on the happiness index. Key areas for happiness are:

TADA – drum roll….

  • Togetherness, a sense of belonging
  • Kindness, giving and receiving kindness. It can be a smile, an opened door, help with a heavy suitcase, helping someone with a stroller on the bus.
  • Gratitude, thinking of the good things in life
  • Health, being healthy and maintaining healthy habits (running for instance is considered a keystone habit that enhances all areas of life… and so is making your bed every morning)
  • Action, doing things, having a job, any job, places to go, people to meet
  • Self care
  • Positive thinking, I know the stoics will beg to disagree here, but we are just coming from different angles on this. What I mean is by positive thinking is simply not engaging in negative self talk.

So with the list above what can HR do to infuse happiness in the workplace? There’s a saying that “There’s no free lunch” however, finding happiness is usually free and in many instances effortless. New habits have to introduced though. In Sweden in many offices people bring lunch either from a nearby restaurant or something they have cooked at home, which will enable some of the suggestions below. If your team goes out for lunch, you can tweak to suit that.

Download our Free Happiness Handout for inspiration.



How to foster productive happiness

Here are some ideas:

  • Eat lunch together without smartphones being part of the conversation or even in the room.
  • Recommend inspiring books or podcasts for commuters.
  • Have bike/walk challenges. Not only does it substantially increase life expectancy and health, it also improves happiness even if it takes a little longer to get to work. Besides did you know that being outside for 45 minutes in the morning improves productivity?
  • Close the elevator and take the stairs. Usually it doesn’t take longer and “free” exercise is offered. Plus an out of order elevator can get even the shyest people talking to one another. Misery seeks company.
  • Get a conversation game going. At lunch, pick a card and discuss the topic together. It is a lot of fun.
  • Start a meeting by asking everyone what is the best thing that happened today. Make this a habit and you will see that your co-workers will start being attentive to great things to mention. Ask the same question whenever you run into people in the office. You will get to know them a lot better and you will quickly see what is important to them.

Providing a happy environment is easy and it starts with you. Get a few people onboard and try to create unity and a community. You will soon see your global talent happiness soar to the top.

We have been experimenting with lots of things to support happiness. If you want to extend a gift of creating happy habits, why not check out our Free Motivational Mojo Series and give it to your colleagues. It’s really helpful when it’s a new year, week or job and especially nice to have as a tool for talent that has moved to Sweden from abroad.

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