How to build a “Happy Station” at your workplace

Written by Nica Foo, a Talent Catalyst who specialises in the use of LEGO bricks to facilitate concept learning, innovative thinking and helping clients to bring Idea to Life! She is certified in LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® and Solution-Focused Coaching®.

I assumed the role of APJ Talent Transformation Consultant at Hewlett Packard Singapore in April 2013. The atmosphere wasn’t quite the “HR” environment that I was used to; it had a more “Operational” tempo and with that I noticed that many colleagues were extremely busy with escalations and rushing through tight project deadlines. Most of them were working through the nights and certainly under a lot of stress. I had to do something.

Chronic Stress can cause your body to go into severe cognitive, perceptual and emotional impairment. This would ultimately impact performance in a negative way so we needed to reduce the team’s stress levels by injecting a lot of positivity into the office.

The solution came in the form of a “Happy Station”. I turned an ordinary and dull desk near mine into a pile of glorious snacks for anyone who needed a breather from work. I regularly stocked up the station and monitored how my colleagues had benefited, updating the menu as I saw necessary to drive usage.

It worked!

“Paying It Forward” this way cultivated the Positive Emotions in everyone and soon more people joined the movement and either contributed to my Happy Station or started their own. Happy Stations grew and the range of goodies expanded. The Happy Station soon became a checkpoint in every new employee’s orientation. What really took my breath away was how the Happy Station spread throughout the Asia Pacific and other colleagues started to send photos of Happy Station from their countries.

How to build your own Happy Station

  1. Find a space. It can be unused real estate on your own desk, an empty desk nearby or open space in the middle of your team. The pantry is also a good place to start with.
  2. Find out what your colleagues like; buy those things. Share those yummy snacks around.
  3. Make colorful cards with each colleague’s favorite list, e.g. “I’m Nica and I love Potato Chips!” This spurs a viral social effect.
  4. Perform reviews every 6 to 8 weeks and get ideas from your colleagues on how to make the Happy Station more effective. For example, one colleague suggested leaving silly hats around for colleagues to wear while they are snacking to increase ‘buy in’ to the positivism.


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