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5 Culture Hacks for a Happy Workplace

“Company culture” is a lot more than the values listed on your website or blu-tacked to your wall. Absolutely, company values can be used effectively to shape culture. But when all is said and done, company culture is really the sum of the work attitudes and personalities that every single employee brings to the office.

There’s no such thing as a “right” answer. Amongst 100 companies with amazing cultures you’ll find 100 different cultures. Of course, that’s not very helpful if you’re looking for a few culture hacks you that you can do right now, so instead let’s just look to one thing.

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Characteristics and habits of geniuses

When people hear the word “genius” they often tend to think of people so brilliant, eccentric and unique that they cannot be compared. And that’s true to an extent. However, according to studies conducted by Catherine Cox and Mason Curry, there are definitely certain characteristics and habits that most geniuses in history have tended to share.

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Image: Employee Responsibility and Recognition

We have two good reasons for thinking that we need to pay more attention to the issue of responsibility in the workplace. First, an experiment from the 1960s involving electric shocks makes clear just how bad things can get if people don’t take responsibility for their actions (it’s far worse than most of us might think!). Second, it’s more difficult to display the right kind of responsibility than we might think because responsibility can be inspired by at least three figures: children, bureaucrats and leaders. The challenge, then, is to figure out which of these types of responsibility we want employees to display in the workplace.

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Peer recognition

What can we learn about peer recognition from a Nobel Prize winner in economics and a piece of advice relating to how to raise children. Two things, I suggest. First, employee recognition is likely to be even more important than we thought it was. Second, employee recognition should come not just from management but also from colleagues. How do we get from Nobel Prizes and child rearing to these conclusions? Well that takes a bit more explanation.

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Traits of Amazing Employees

Knowing how to identify the traits of the perfect employee is the holy grail of HR but, like finding the grail, this challenge is not for the faint of heart. Of course, everyone has an opinion on the matter: a quick Google search reveals an overwhelming plethora of lists of desirable employee traits. Unfortunately, all of these lists differ in the details, leaving us in the dark about which employee traits are really the most important. So in this post, I turn to another approach to find an answer: I turn to the wisdom of the crowd.

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Happy enagaged employees

If you ask someone not to think of a pink elephant for the next minute, there’s a pretty good chance that they’ll spend most of the next minute thinking about pink elephants. So what do you think happens when you deliberately try to suppress bad thoughts because you’re trying to “think positively”? Richard Wiseman, in his excellent book 59 Seconds, says there’s some evidence that the pink elephant problem rears its head and you end up thinking even more negatively than you would otherwise have done and, as a result, end up making yourself less happy. So if positive thinking is a dangerous route to happiness, what’s the real happiness secret? And how can we use this secret to increase employee happiness? This post will discuss both of these questions.

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