Today we are closing out the first full week of the 20-day Happiness Challenge! The activity for Day 5 of the Happiness Challenge is to offer help to a team member. While much of the happiness research focuses on the benefits of volunteering – it will translate well to the workplace too!

If you read last week’s blog post that introduced the 20-day Happiness Challenge you know that I identified 5 different activities. Each day this week you had one activity to perform that should take you less than 10 minutes to complete. These 5 specific activities are chosen because of the impact they will have for you. And the positive impact they have on the person that’s receiving the benefits of your action. To make it easier to do the challenge, we created a 20-day calendar for this challenge. You get the calendar for FREE if you sign up for the FedFan newsletter.

Friday’s are notoriously quiet days in the office. This is because many people use their flex-schedule to be off on Fridays or they telecommute. Those poor souls that are left to work on Fridays are usually productivity powerhouses because there’s less distraction.

Why not offer help to someone on your team so they can be even more productive today? I assure you – you will make their day. And, it will make you happier.

Don’t believe me? Here’s an article about how helping others makes you happier. The article mentions that helping others may help you gain new skills. But another benefit could be that you gain empathy and understanding for what they do.

As I said on Day 2 of the Happiness Challenge, you can define ‘team member’ however you’d like. It could be a coworker who is an equal to you. Or, if you’re a supervisor it could be someone who reports to you.

Having offered help, and having had help offered, I suspect the hardest part of this activity may be getting a team member to let you help them. When people receive unsolicited help, some may decline because they don’t believe it’s a real offer of help. I call these, ‘bluff offers’. Or, some may not want to accept an offer for help because it may suggest a weakness or that they cannot do their job. Some may also decline the offer of help because they don’t want to inconvenience you or put you out.

“Is there anything I can do to help you be more successful today?”

This is a common question I’ve been hearing lately from supervisors. In theory, this is a good question. The question is phrased so as to acknowledge the person being offered help is already successful. As a result, the fear of being seen as weak or unable to do the job is taken out of the equation. The problem is I’ve yet to see anyone accept the offer. Other than the question being phrased as a yes/no response, I think there’s a significant flaw in the question.

It’s too broad. Of the 50 things that might be on their plate that day, they’re supposed to pick one to delegate to you?

Here’s some tips to get agreement when you offer help

  1. Ask what they are working on. Then, offer help to work on that specific task.
  2. Tell them you’ve got 10 minutes free and you’d like to help them do something. Ask what you can help with.
  3. During the afternoon slump, tell them you were planning to go get coffee. Offer to pick them up a cup to save them the walk.
  4. Tell them you’re procrastinating on one of your own tasks. Ask if there’s something you can work on.
  5. Let them know you’re doing this Happiness Challenge and you need to mark off the box.

Here’s why these tips should work when you offer help:

  1. Your assistance is narrowed down to a specific task they’re already working on. It’ll be easier for them to pick something of that task to let you help with.
  2. There’s a specific time block. This helps narrow down what help they can receive from you. It also makes it clear that it’s not a bother.
  3. Your offer is something you plan to do anyway. They won’t feel like they’re putting you out. They may offer you money for the coffee. I personally think it’s ok to accept it for this activity. But you can decline it if you want to feel even more altruistic.
  4. They feel like they are doing you a favor. Everyone wins!
  5. I don’t love this option. But it does make them feel like they are doing you a favor. It’s also clear it’s not a bluff offer.  Side benefit, they may ask what this Happiness Challenge is all about…and you can send them over here!

Now, the hardest part of keeping on track with a challenge is the accountability and support to keep on going. I hope you’ll follow along with me and the other Fed Fans that are participating. I also hope that you’ll share your successes with us either on twitter #happieratwork or on the Fedability facebook page. You can find me on twitter @danaesims_iopsy. Or, you can leave a comment in the space below.

I look forward to hearing how your challenge to offer help goes for Day 5!

Did you miss Day 4 of the Happiness Challenge? That’s ok! Read about asking for advice may make you happier at work.