The Happy Manifesto – from “Happy” Henry Stewart

The Happy Manifesto sets out a vision of happier workplaces. It is based on what organisations might look like if how they were organised and managed was decided by the people who are managed. What does this mean in practice? Here is a first draft of 80 or so ideas for people to try out.

Ideas, thoughts, comments, suggestions very welcome. Check out the Happy Manifesto LinkedIn group or email me at Also do checkout the LinkedIn discussion. Or download the Happy Manifesto:

Download Happy Manifesto



1. Find a way to delight a customer today

2. Find a way to delight one of your people today

3. Stop to say hello to colleagues and get to know them better

4. Find ways to make working together more fun and sociable

Trust your people

5. Pre-approve: A new approach, a problem to solve – get an individual or group to find a solution and then implement it without checking back with you

6. Don’t approve things: And resist the temptation to “improve” your people’s ideas

7. Give people the freedom to choose their own paths to achieving results

8. Ensure there are clear principles to work within

9. Ensure there are clear objectives to work towards & people feel they own them and are fully accountable for them

10. Once they have job ownership, hold people to account & be tough with underperformance

11. Help your people set up regular feedback, from the customer

12. Get managers to step out of the way

13. Stop telling people what to do

14. Pass the knowledge on to your people, so they don’t need things approved

15. Have your people write their own job descriptions

16. Let people choose their own job title (or abolish job titles altogether)

17. Encourage disobedience

18. Give full power and responsibility to front-line staff to change anything that is wrong

19. Let people spend 10% of their paid time doing something of their own initiative (Google: 20%)

20. Take real responsibility in your job. Lead beyond your authority

21. Peer appraisal: have every person appraised by their peers, their fellow workers. (You survive and prosper by what your colleagues think of you)

22. Set any rules for the 98% trying to do a good job, not the 2% who aren’t

23. Let people decide their own salaries (Semco)

24. Let people choose which two colleagues should assess their salary (St Lukes)

Make your people feel good

25. In every interaction with others, make it a goal to leave them feeling good

26. Don’t treat people as you would want to be treated, treat them as they would want to be treated (especially if you are a manager)

27. Give your people £25 each (or even just £10) to make the office better in some way

28. Allow everybody to spend £100 (or even £500), without needing approval, to make something better for a customer

29. Spot somebody doing something well and tell them

30. Thank two people today

31. Make it the key role for management to make people feel good about themselves

32. Smile!

33. Find opportunities to laugh together

34. Surprise people with cakes or ice cream

35. Make the focus of your managers to serve their people

36. Redraw your organisation chart as an upside-down pyramid: Put the managers at the bottom and the front-line staff at the top

37. Reward and promote as much on how supportive and helpful people are, as on their ability in their core job

38. Make appraisals something supportive, that people look forward to

39. Help your people find a real challenge, and support them to achieve it

40. Create a quiet space, where an individual’s presence is trusted, respected and allowed to just be for a while.

41. Pause and look up and recognise the beauty around us

42. Ask your people what would make them happier. Then enable it.

43. Make a habit of noting good things that happen each day

Be open and transparent

44. Err on the side of sharing more information than people need

45. Make all information in the organisation available for everybody to see (excepting only the really personal stuff)

46. Especially make the finances open, and train people how to understand them

47. Make salaries open and transparent too, so your people can see what everybody earns

Recruit for attitude, train for skill

48. Forget the qualifications, check the ability instead

49. Ban the use of non-specific qualifications in recruitment (eg, “must have a degree”)

50. Test their ability to do the job, not their ability to talk about doing the job

51. Involve the people they will work with in the recruitment. Get buy-in before they start

52. Especially for managers, have them principally chosen by the people they will manage Get them to spend a day in the office, and get the people they will work with to decide whether to appoint (Pret)

53. Let your people leave well, help them find a new job and leave them feeling good

54. Look for the potential in all your people, even the lowest paid

Celebrate mistakes

55. Ensure there is no blame for trying something new and messing up

56. Make a point of warmly praising/celebrating when people own up to things that went wrong

57. Hold a staff meeting where everybody declares a mistake they’ve made, to cheers from everybody else.

58. Be prepared to say “I got it wrong. That was my fault”

59. Create environments where people can experiment, try new things and succeed or – safely – fail

Community: create mutual benefit

60. Ensure your organisation has a purpose beyond profit

61. Create an environment where people feel really proud to work there.

62. What skills and resources does your organisation have, that could bring real benefit to others?

63. Check everything your organisation does, not just the 1% to charity, against the benchmark of whether it helps society

64. Pay your suppliers early, especially the sol traders and small businesses

65. Reduce your environmental impact, a little more each year

Love work, get a life

66. Set an example of working to your hours, and taking time off

67. Help your people work to their hours and avoid a long hours culture. Your customers want your people relaxed, well rested and nourished

68. Equip and help people to work at home, if they want to

69. Get great at helping people measure their productivity, so they are judged on what they produce not the time spent producing it

70. Remember that people’s best ideas rarely come at the office, help them have wide experiences

71. Let your people work out the way of working that suits them, agreed with their colleagues

72. Help your people find ‘me’ time, to do what they really enjoy

73. Give yourself ‘me’ time: what do you really enjoy doing?

Select who should manage people on the basis of how good they are at managing people

74. Have every manager appraised by the people they manage

75. Help people who want to, to become great people managers. Help those who don’t want to, to do what they are good at

76. Find a way for some people to get promoted without having to manage people

77. Encourage people to call meetings with managers when they want them, not the other way round

78. Let people choose their managers

Get people to play to their strengths

79. Focus on developing your people’s strengths, more than addressing weaknesses

80. Get people to spend their time doing what they are good at

Useful Links

Action for Happiness on the route to a happier workplace

Happier workplaces are better for people and for business

Download the Happy Manifesto

Download Happy Manifesto

Great video from Shawn Anchor, author of The Happiness Advantage:

Shawn Anchor: The happy secret to better work | Video on


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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