The Case for Prioritizing Happiness at Work
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leadership development, company culture
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happy workers

The Case for Prioritizing Happiness at Work

Wait what? Are you serious? Work is about getting things done not about having a good time, right? Well not so fast, my friend. I’m about to make a business case for why happiness should be one of your company’s key performance indicators (KPIs).

Today, companies are making tremendous investments in technologies that closely link its people to one another as well as to customers and other stakeholders. But such hi-tech tools are not enough. They need to be implemented and embraced internally. This is where companies struggle as there are often too many layers and silos furthered by colleagues who prefer to stay in their comfort zones and resist new ways of connecting and working. This is a big problem and “joy” can be a big part of the solution. Why? For two reasons:

  1. People intrinsically seek happiness.
  2. Happiness connects people more powerfully than almost any other human experience.

The connective power of happiness is clearly visible in sports. When a team performs at its best to overcome limitations and challenges, everyone from players, coaches and fans alike are brimming with joy. It is that which lifts the team to even greater heights. The success sparks greater happiness and fuels further success. While at the time everyone is caught up in the moment, the residual sense of team and connection lasts long after the win.

Can this happiness that is so apparent in championship athletics be replicated in business? Absolutely!

In any team environment, happiness rises from a combination of harmony, impact and acknowledgment – all of which business leaders and managers can (and should) nurture in their organizations.

Harmony – On winning teams, each player has a distinct role to play in achieving the goal. One player might be a great passer, another a great scorer and yet another may bring a certain intensity and competitive fire. When the teammates’ diverse skills and strengths come together, it doesn’t just feel great; it is great.

Impact – Harmony leads to enhanced performance which in turn creates more happiness. You can see it in the faces of grown men and women jump for joy like children.

Acknowledgment – On all great teams you will often see one acknowledge another who set up the good play. Business leaders take note as this is a pattern that’s filled with opportunity. By providing employees, clients and stakeholders with more experiences that engender happiness, a positive attitude ensues and teams are motivated by the power of happiness.

So how can you as a business leader infuse more of these three ingredients into the fiber of your organization? According to the research, employees who believe their company makes a positive social contribution and feel a personal commitment to its vision and strategy will experience more happiness at work.
The lesson? Creating a culture in your company that embraces happiness consistently can create a much stronger sense of personal interconnection, shared purpose and pride across your organization. So while you rightfully focus on your organization’s success, I suggest you give equal attention to creating a culture that engenders such experiences and here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Set the agenda – Make workplace happiness a priority and start by ensuring employees feel heard, recognized and acknowledged. You might even want to consider investing in employee wellness benefits, such as yoga classes and employee activity clubs.
  2. Set the tone – Encourage and celebrate individual and corporate social impact efforts. Authentically express more of the happiness you personally experience in your role.
  3. Lead by example – As a leader, your active and enthusiastic participation in these initiatives is critical to their success.
Happiness begets happiness!