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How to be Happy at Work

The last week in September is Happiness at Work Week. The organisers want to encourage happiness at work to be a top priority for all companies. It is good for employees because they take that happiness right through their life. It is better for business because happy employees are more productive, flexible, resilient and creative – all vital aspects of the workplace if businesses are to thrive and grow.

What is Happiness?

Interestingly there is little consensus in defining happiness other than it being an encompassing description of positive emotions, such as joy, pride and contentment. In ‘Atlas of the Heart’, Brene Brown describes it as:

...stable, longer-lasting and normally the result of effort. It’s lower intensity than joy, and more self-focused. With happiness, we feel a sense of being in control. Unlike joy, which is more internal, happiness seems more external and circumstantial.

I like this definition because it fits in with the concept of happiness at work. Fun (such as a work party) and joy (such as winning a top award) are short-term feelings, but happiness is that longer-term general satisfaction and contentment that is essential to both personal and business wellbeing.

The 5 Core Elements of happiness at work

 Interestingly, when people are asked about how happy they are at work, it is not just about pay. It is about positivity in the workplace, linking to personal development and achieving personal goals. The iOpener Institute have been researching Happiness at Work for over 20 years and have come up with these 5 Cs that are the key elements of a happy workplace.

  1. Contribution – individuals are happier if they feel their contribution to the business is worthwhile and valued by the boss. An environment where employees feel their opinions and views are listened to is crucial to a happy work force.
  2. Conviction – if the team believes in what they are doing it will improve resilience, improving motivation through good times and bad.
  3. Culture – employees are much happier if they feel they fit in with the organizational culture
  4. Commitment – the three previous points all pull together to make a committed team who are all working towards a shared goal.
  5. Confidence – this all leads to confident teams who feel safe to take risks and enjoy challenge and innovation.

In our blog, Are we happier at Home or work? we looked at why people are happier at work than at home. Once again it came down to engagement and fulfilment.

Why You Should Make the Workplace a Happy One

Economists from the University of Warwick carried out a randomized trial on happiness in the workplace. The results showed that happier workers “use their time more effectively, increasing the pace at which they work without sacrificing quality.”

A more recent study, “Meaningful work, happiness at work, and turnover intentions” backed up these findings. The results showed that meaningful work, being appreciated by coworkers and enjoying daily tasks are likely to improve happiness at work. A job that contributes to people’s life purpose and feelings of appreciation reduces staff turnover.

So, what can you do to make your workplace a happier one? Back to the organisers of Happiness at Work week for a few ideas:

  • invite an expert to give an inspirational talk over lunch and discuss what you can do;
  • organize a discussion about what makes you happy at work with colleagues;
  • talk to management about what they can do to make this a happier workplace;
  • start an initiative to give more positive feedback;
  • lunch together and not at your desk;
  • talk about your organizational culture and how you can make changes
  • write your team manifesto;

If you would like support in building an environment to build a happy workplace, get in touch with us here