Should we strive for happiness within the workplace?

May 17th, 2011 by Sarah Green Leave a reply »

Should we strive for happiness within the workplace?

Should we strive to be happy at work or alternatively should we make do with what we have and find happiness in other areas of our life? When Sarah Linton was listening to Jessica Pryce-Jones from iOpener Ltd at the ABP Conference, she found that it was a compelling argument that we should have an eye on how “happy” individuals are at work in order to develop an effective workforce. Their research directly links self reported happiness with higher rates of attendance, time on task, feeling energised and productivity. And these statistics are seemingly significant, in some cases seeing a 100% improvement from those who are reporting feeling less happy.

The working definition that Jessica presents is: “Happiness at work is a mindset which allows you to maximise performance and achieve your potential. You do this by being mindful of the highs and lows when working alone or with others”. This definition allows for individuals to feel realistic, identifying that not every part of their job is exciting or engaging; however it does strive to develop a “mindset” which links into positive psychology and therefore creating a general state of happiness. (State of happiness is a relatively stable mindset, sensitive to change).

The key to maximising an employee’s performance and potential, is to develop an environment which both allows and enables individuals to find a sense of “Being, Belonging and Becoming”. Focussing on what people have done well, rather than not so well creates a positive energy and a culture of positivity where people are able to capitalise on their strengths. What is interesting about this research is that regardless of level, occupation and status the results are the same. If you create an environment of trust, pride and recognition, with an infrastructure which supports people achieving their potential, it is likely that happiness can more readily be achieved.

Coming back to the original question of whether we should strive for happiness, in short it at least should be an aspiration. Engagement is a complex subject and being happy is not the worst by-product achieved from an HR intervention.

Written by Sarah Linton, Director of Assessment.
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