– In Lifelong Learning

In building high-performance corporate cultures, organizations and chief executives tend to focus on content and forms of communication. When I work with organizations to increase inter- and intra-departmental cooperation and performance, I focus increasingly on the ambience of the communicative interactions by introducing some “hygge.” Strong relationships are key to success and performance. In my experience, a little hygge goes a long way.

What is hygge?

Denmark has consistently been the happiest country in the world, and the Danish word and concept of “Hygge” (/ˈhʊɡə/) may be part of the reason why.

Hygge is not easily defined — not even by the Danes themselves. The Oxford Dictionary describes the concept of hygge as, “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).”

Hygge is about so much more than friendliness. It is about a sense of community and togetherness, concepts that are important to any culture. Hygge is also about comfortability in relationships, and thus the quality of interactions. Strong relationships are key to cooperation which, in turn, is key to team performance. To create the best possible conditions for cooperation, it is important to create an environment of mutual trust and commitment. Those of you in forum will recognize the importance of relationships bound and built in a reciprocal sense of trusting community in which a preferred culture may thrive.

Adding some hygge to corporate culture and behavior through focusing on building trusting and committed relationships contributes to creating strong networks and a sense of organizational belonging. The organizations I work with all want to keep their most talented people highly motivated, engaged and productive. One way to achieve this is by helping them build and maintain a meaningful network within the organization. This takes both time and resources.

How do you add hygge?

Apart from creating an intimate and cozy physical environment, consider the following steps to add hygge to your business:

  • Quality time: Allow people to take time during the day to meet informally with colleagues without a specific purpose. A full calendar doesn’t allow for hygge, unless the hygge is scheduled.
  • Quantity time: Give people enough time to build on relationships. This key aspect of hygge ensures that people in the organization feel comfortable spending time with each other outside of scheduled meetings.
  • Break bread together: Hygge is also very much about food. Celebrate any occasion by having a bite to eat or a cup of something. Encourage people to take time to have lunch together.
  • Sit down: Hygge is usually not achieved by standing. People must be given the opportunity to sit down, eat or drink something, and talk about anything and everything. Sitting down is a means to create a sense of equality of everyone there, another important ingredient in why the Danes are the happiest people in the world.
  • Mean it: Hygge is very much about sincerity. Mean what you say, and do what you mean.

Off the bat, adding hygge to your corporate culture might seem inefficient. However, the more you invest in meaningful interactions, relationships and thus networks, the more smoothly cooperation will run throughout the organization. When people know each other better,
Anna from marketing will be able to call  Jens from Supply Chain and ask him for a quick favor and they will achieve results faster.

I encourage you to add a dash of hygge to the way you work with your organizational culture. Enjoy the hygge!

Ask yourself:

  • When did I hygge today? And with whom did I hygge?
  • What words would I use to describe the quality of my interactions today?
  • What are we doing to create a sense of community?
  • How committed is my organization to building meaningful relationships?

Trine Blücher is a sought-after organizational developer, YPO certified forum facilitator and transformational executive coach. She works with and guides senior executives on how to uncover and address core challenges in communication, cooperation and culture. Blücher’s background in business, professional supervision and coaching gives her a unique understanding of leadership challenges and possibilities. She is the Founder of the Institute of Leadership Practice.

>> Connect with Trine Blücher and share your hygge experience