Are you constantly worried about your underperforming staff? Ever wondered what would increase their productivity? Perhaps it's time you placed more focus on workplace happiness.
Rapidly developing technology in every facet of our lives has lead people to become more connected, but also more isolated than ever before, and as a result, more stressed out. With apps that allow us to be reached 24/7 and mounting pressures for employees to outperform ourselves and others at work, the goal of happiness can seem ever more distant. However, research suggests that there are many paths to happiness and that insane pressures of everyday life can become a thing of the past with the right strategies.
Social events and culture are vital
Why do people love their job? What do they want their workplace to look like? The savviest employers know that if you act on this, you should never have a problem with motivation and morale.
Increasingly, workers are placing importance on wellbeing and working conditions, where flexible work hours, collaboration and team spirit are part of the company culture.
The Guardian recently quoted Mark Batey, senior lecturer in organisational psychology at Alliance Manchester Business School.
“This is the human era of the workplace. The best places to work are those in which people can flourish and be their best selves – instead of pretending to be someone else five days a week. The perfect workplace also gives people flexibility and autonomy as to where and how they work, built on a culture of growth and trust.”
Miriam Ort, vice-president and head of HR, PepsiCo UK & Ireland, Top Employer-certified in the UK for five years running chimed in saying, “Our colleagues are offered the chance to grow professionally through regular training, career tools, and different assignments and experiences. We also have a strong philosophy of career growth through experiences, which means we are willing to invest in moving talent through diverse roles that provide the breadth and depth our employees need to grow. This helps them build rewarding careers and become the talent we need for the future.”
Take a few minutes to breathe
A recent article in the Daily Telegraph quotes author and happiness guru Max Strom, who offers lunchtime breathing workshops for office workers in central London. Strom says calming the breath can have a huge impact on wellbeing.
He argues that while smokers are allowed regular breaks outdoors, non-smokers are often forced to sit at their desks for long periods of time when they should be having regular trips out into the fresh air.
He also says that due to the rise of technology, people are more connected than ever, and yet they have never been more isolated. “Some technology is good. The washing machine has hugely freed up time for people, for example,” says Strom.
“The internet is the new white sugar. The more you use it, the more you want to use it, and the worse it is for you. People waste so much time on technology and what they don’t realise is that time is lifespan. When you kill time, you are killing yourself.”
“It’s important to define happiness at the deepest level. If you never go on this journey and learn what makes you happy, you will never find it.” He added.
What is true happiness?
Action for Happiness director Mark Williamson believes that while our moment-to-moment feelings of pleasure or joy are of course important, true happiness is much deeper than this.
“Everyone has their own views on what makes them happy. But although the routes to happiness vary, I would hope most people agree that the best society is one with the greatest happiness and least misery.”
Is pursuing happiness selfish? Perhaps. We should acknowledge that being happier is generally fantastic for people. Happy people tend to have better relationships, earn more money, live longer and do better at work.
However, there is a big difference between searching relentlessly for happiness, which is self-defeating and choosing to live life in a happy, meaningful and fulfilling way.
Trying to live happily shouldn't be a self-centred, hedonistic pursuit. On the contrary, the happiest society is one where people want others to be happy too. Research shows that people who care more about the happiness of others are themselves happier; and happier people are in turn more generous to others.
Can you ever really make everyone happy? If happier workers are more productive, what happens when you just can’t make certain people happy?
Shawn Anchor, the author of The Happiness Advantage, has found that the brain works much better when a person is feeling positive. At those times, individuals tend to be more creative and better at solving problems. And additional research has shown that when workers are happy they’re more effective collaborators working toward common goals.
Perhaps keeping common goals top of mind is the key in the pursuit of workplace happiness. Whatever formula you choose, it’s clear that happier workers are more productive and able to boost profits for your organisation.