5 Ways to Increase Workplace Happiness

How To Create Happiness At Work

In today’s work environment, where we are constantly reminded that simply having a job at all should be cause for gratitude, the concept of workplace happiness has been quietly making a comeback. It is commonly believed that happy workers are better workers, and that a happy work team has tangible effects on an organization’s bottom line. A study from the University of Warwick, UK showed that “happy workers are up to 12% more productive than unhappy professionals.” Shawn Anchor, the author of The Happiness Advantage asserts that happy employees can increase sales by 37% and productivity by as much as 31%. These statistics make having a strategy for developing workplace happiness worthy of serious consideration.

While many executives and managers agree on the importance of workplace happiness, the demands of daily productivity can often leave happiness off the agenda. There are certain things an employer can do to help the team raise its happiness level. One strategy is ensuring that team members have clarity about what creates workplace happiness and how to pursue it. While there are other ways organizations can raise collective happiness, none compares with the individual’s power to take command of his or her own emotional well-being. According to Annie McKee, a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, happiness can be found when our work aligns with our values, when we see how work connects us to our future dreams and goals, and when we have positive working relationships. Take her quiz here.

Below are five tips to help you become happier at work. In what may not be a surprising revelation, many of these steps hold true during off-duty hours as well.

  1. Make your happiness a priority – This is perhaps the most important step of them all. You can’t wait for happiness to evolve at its own pace by power of osmosis. Happiness is a feeling to be chosen, hunted, and fought for. Herrerra (2019), suggests that those who are happy in their work found a way to spend 20% of their time engaging in activities they love doing. His suggestion is to inventory what you love and what you don’t about your current job. Clarifying what is important to you, or core value clarification is a critical part of the process. Seek out ways to spend more time doing what you love.

  2. Make other people’s happiness a priority – In the Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, one of the eight pillars of joy is found by being in compassionate service to others. Few things feel better than helping others. There is no day at the spa that beats the inner fulfillment that comes with selflessly making a positive difference in someone’s life. Conversely, it is difficult to attain genuine happiness at the expense of others. If the only way you can get a promotion is by stepping on someone else, or stabbing a colleague in the back, reconsider the value of the promotion, and your own priorities.

  3. Look internally instead of externally – When you give the key to your happiness to another person (or organization, or specific outcome you were hoping for), you have taken it away from yourself. Happiness is a state of mind, not a paycheck or a parking space. Find internal methods to alleviate negative self-talk. Resist the familiar urge to beat yourself up over failures and lost opportunities. Practice showing yourself grace and compassion when “the going gets tough.” Address problems as they arise, take steps to ensure you’re better protected against similar problems in the future, then let it go. Make a conscious decision to not allow life’s bumps to throw you into a self-criticizing tailspin.

  4. Embrace the journey, not the destination – Because at the end of the day, that’s what life is. Postponing happiness for the sake of an end-reward cuts out a lot of potential happy-time, and usually results in a less-than-happy result. If you loathe every moment of a work project, the only real joy you are likely to find at the project’s conclusion is, “Geez, I’m happy that’s over!” Until the next project begins. Take satisfaction in the work you do, instead of the outcome. Find how your work relates to your own values and how it moves you toward ultimate fulfillment.

  5. Stop spinning your wheels – You can’t stop to smell the roses in the middle of a juggling routine. Not only is it important to take personal quality time for yourself, but it is also important to use the time you are working more effectively. Namely, stop multi-tasking. Prioritize your activities, then complete your list in the order you have written them. Focus on one thing at a time. Do it well. Take satisfaction in a job well done and then move on to the next item. We have written before of the perils of multi-tasking, but the effects extend beyond efficiency. The multi-tasker’s work is never finished (and certainly never finished well). The stress caused by constantly treading water in a sea of ever-expanding duties is a bona-fide happiness-killer.

Chowdhury, M. R. (January 1, 2020). Happiness at work: 10 tips for how to be happy at work. Retrieved February 23, 2021, from https://positivepsychology.com/happiness-at-work/

Herrera, T. (April 7, 2019). A deceptively simple way to find more happiness at work. Retrieved February 23, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/07/smarter-living/how-to-be-happier-at-work.html

McKee, A. (October 13, 2017). Take this quiz to figure out how to be happier at work. Retrieved February 23, 2021, from https://hbr.org/2017/10/take-this-quiz-to-figure-out-how-to-be-happier-at-work

Leadership Development 

Leaders who are resilient are aware that happiness is a state of mind, and a choice that one makes. Strategies that support leaders to be aware of disempowered attitudes and to choose an outward mindset are empowering. Relationships can have an impact on one’s feelings of happiness. Setting healthy boundaries and ensuring that conversations operate with transparency, respect, open-mindedness, and clarity about goals and roles enhance resiliency and well-being.

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