‘Hygge’ at Work

What can employers learn about employee retention from an old, Scandinavian tradition? ‘Hygge’ is a concept currently trending around the world – learn how to apply hygge to the workplace, and why hygge at work is more relevant than ever in 2019.

Amber Feitsma

June 2019 · 4 min reading

What does ‘hygge’ mean?

The concept of hygge (pronounced HUE-gah) first started going viral about three years ago, but it’s Danish roots go much further back. Traditionally, hygge is something between an emotional and physical feeling of pure comfort. Imagine eating homemade soup by candlelight on a rainy day, or drinking a glass of wine with friends, wrapped in blankets on the patio of your favourite cafe.

Hygge can be experienced with family, loved ones, or even co-workers – and why shouldn’t it? Employees perform best when they feel valued and less stressed, which is the idea behind hygge at work. 21% of employees state that the most stressful aspect their job is their work environment – and stress is the opposite of hygge.

So go ahead and follow these three tips on improving work environment and employee retention by applying the concept of hygge in the workplace.

  1. Create a work community for hygge

    The most fundamental aspect of hygge is togetherness. Community is important to the emotional side of hygge – candles, cocoa, or cold beers are best enjoyed in good company. Many organisations struggle with creating a sense of community in the workplace, even though it is one of the top qualities valued by employees in 2019. Start to build a ‘hyggeligt’ work environment by setting aside time for employees to make personal connections – with each other and leaders. Eat lunch together. Organise events that people want to participate in. Ask them what kind of things they’d like to do as a team. Some of Glassdoor’s top employers offer corporate volunteer programs or gym memberships – perks that contribute to a feeling of community and hygge in the workplace.

  2. Keep it personal

    Yes, for many of us, work is work, and there is something to be said about separating business from pleasure. But a workspace does not have to feel like ‘just work’. Thinking of the workplace as the ‘home’ of the company will amp up the hygge factor. Add personal touches to the workplace – for example, hang pictures of company events and achievements on the wall. Encourage employees to make their space their own with photos and plants. By creating an environment that employees enjoy working in, your chances of retaining employees will increase (as will your popularity as a potential employer).

  3. Value work-life balance

    In its truest form, hygge is best practised at home, fireside, in the company of one’s nearest and dearest. So recreating true hygge at work is not always a simple (or productive) task. As an employer, one of the most effective ways to keep employees feeling happy and valued is by ensuring them a healthy work-life balance. This way they have time for hygge out of the office as well. Keep work hours  flexible and don’t set restrictions on personal matters.


Hygge in Denmark

Being an agency founded in Denmark, CompanYoung knows all about hygge. We value our office coffee machine (at which gathering around for a chat is not discouraged), a well-designed lunch room with ambient lighting, and an open-door policy for all levels of leadership. These things are commonplace in the Danish workplace. According to OECD, Denmark excels at making sure all have a good work-life balance – which probably has something to do with our reputation for having a high quality of life.

Hygge at work is trending

It may be the Danes who put this cosy concept into words, but many of today’s top employers already practice hygge at work. Trending aspects of work culture, like good communication and balance, are rooted in the same foundations as the concept of hygge at work.

And believe it or not, it is not only applicable to the office. All kinds of work environments can practice basic hygge culture. By encouraging social interaction, emotionally connecting staff to their workplace, and ensuring work-life balance, your workplace has the potential to feel cosy as a fleece blanket and a cup of cocoa on a warm winter night.

Are you curious about how your work environment can impact your recruitment efforts? We would love to get in touch and discuss your attraction strategy – perhaps over a ‘hyggelig’ cup of coffee?

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