The happiness advantage

Hear from Stephanie Davies, who will be joining us at CIPD NAP!


Businesses are taking happiness seriously, according to academics. The latest modules on several management school curricula cover areas described as  ‘meaning’, ‘human flourishing’ and ‘subjective wellbeing’, or as we in the real world like to call it ‘happiness’.  How you feel about your workplace is important and the interest in it is universal. Experts in the subject agree that businesses need to factor happiness into the workplace to maximise employee potential.

As Andrew Oswald, an economist at Warwick University recently explained in an article in the Financial Times: “When people become happier they somehow find more energy. We don’t know how they do it.”

He believes that happiness and the commercial advantage it brings is now a mainstream management trend that it is here to stay.  Let’s face it, if we’re going to spend an average of 99,117 hours at work in a lifetime isn’t it best to enjoy it?  For many, of course, happiness is about not being at work, especially when there’s plenty of other things to get excited about outside your office or workplace. However, most of us accept we need to work to live, in which case what do you need in a job to make you happy? Here are our five steps to find workplace happiness:

Take charge of your destiny

It is incredibly satisfying to develop in a job and to have control over that development.  I come across many people who wait for development to come to them and feel disheartened when it doesn’t.  Take charge of your own growth; ask for specific and meaningful help from your manager or boss.  You are the best person to develop yourself and have the most to gain from it.  The feeling of being in control also has an impact on our happiness, so it’s a win/win situation.

Get in the loop

A common gripe from people is that they don’t receive enough communication and information about events in their workplace. I am a huge believer in communication and transparency in organisations and I do feel messages from the top are best communicated directly. However sometimes they simply don’t come for various reasons.   So seek out the information you need to work effectively yourself and don’t be afraid to ask. Develop positive networks and use them to help you do your job. Politely request weekly meetings if you don’t already have them and ask questions to learn.

Seek out feedback

Having and getting feedback is how we know how we are doing and where we need to improve.  But feedback is sometimes infrequent and this can be frustrating. If this is the case, simply ask for it.  It doesn’t have to be in a formal setting and regular informal  feedback sessions are great guides.

Manage your load

One of the most serious causes of workplace stress is feeling overloaded. It’s important to understand that if you feel overwhelmed, its ok to say no to extra work.  We can often be asked to do things and feel under pressure to say yes.  If you really can’t take on extra work then explain why.  A simple way to do this is to ask the person when their deadline is then explain the other work you are committed to and be honest about the time frame you have to complete it.  If your workload exceeds your available time and energy ask your manager for help and resources.  If you are a manager and your team is struggling,  look at your systems and process. Are they working well for you?  Create your own systems that enable you to do your job in the most efficient way.  There are lots of great tips for time management and efficient working on the internet using diary systems and other computer structures

Spread positivity, avoid negativity

Offices can be hotbeds of gossip. Avoiding it can be a challenge. But it’s your choice whether you want to get involved in the negative stuff. If you do, you play a role in sustaining it and one day it could be you on the receiving end.  Flip it on its head and actively engage in the dissemination of positive news instead. Go out of your way to thank people and be nice to people and you’ll find this positivity reflects back on you.

Make Friends

In happiness studies, having and knowing how to maintain positive relationships repeatedly comes out as one of the key contributors to feeling happy.  Enjoying the company of your co-workers is the hallmark of a positive, happy work experience. Take time to get to know your colleagues and befriend them. Friendships take time and effort and you may not bond with people immediately.  You may just have one or two friends at work, but they’re your network, they’ll provide support, friendly banter and conversation.

Have a laugh

Laughter releases endorphins which make us feel happy, relaxed and comfortable. A positive mind-set is the key to success. Having a positive outlook on life is not just advantageous to mental health, it is good fun too. Learn to laugh at yourself. Develop your own sense of humour by watching comedians and how they explain situations in a comical way. Revisit past events and see if you can think about them differently – through the eyes of a comedian. Using tricks like exaggeration and wordplay can alter the context of a situation and help you feel more positive. Make time to have a laugh with your colleagues in a positive way.

Forbes recently highlighted happiness at work as a key driver for success,  stating that if you had to describe workplace happiness in a few words they would be results, recognition and relationships. Whatever you call happiness, one thing is certain; having a happy, positive working environment is undoubtedly better than having a negative, dull one, not just because it feels good; neuroscience and research tells us people perform better when they’re happy.  So what are you going to do to take responsibility for happiness at your work?

Find out more about Laughology here.  Or better still – book for CIPD NAP and hear Stephanie in person!

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