This post has been written by Fiona Quigley (@fionaquigs) , one of the chat2lrn ‘Crew’. We would also like to thank Henry Stewart (@happyhenry) of Happy Limited for his boundless enthusiasm to help us all bring happiness into the workplace.
There is no doubt that in the last few years, good news stories have been harder to find.
The economic downturn has had a global impact, impacting people on many different levels – political, social, economic.
A recent Gallup survey (2013), has recorded that 71% of US workers are not engaged or actively disengaged from their jobs. If an employee doesn’t care about their job, then it is not that difficult to see the negative impacts on the overall business. Disengaged employees leave companies, but more worryingly, they can sabotage and influence those around them.
Happiness is contagious
A study conducted at Harvard University and the University of California says that happiness is contagious. This contagion goes well beyond the people we have direct contact with. The study found that when a person becomes happy, a friend who lives close to the happy person has a 25 percent higher likelihood of becoming happy too. The spouse of the happy person has an 8 percent increased chance of happiness, and the next-door neighbours have a 34 percent chance.
Our assumption is that a happy employee is a more productive employee. There is research evidence to back this assumption up:
- 1% improvement in a worker’s relationship with the boss improves happiness as much as a 30% increase in salary. (Helliwell and Huang, 2011)
- Happy people earn more money, are healthier (spend fewer days out of the office sick) and are more creative at problem solving (University College London, 2012)
So what impacts workplace happiness, and if we don’t have happy workplaces, what can we do about it?
The Happy Manifesto is a book written by a UK Training company founder, Henry Stewart. Henry owns a company called Happy Ltd. (http://www.happy.co.uk/)
I have read quite a few books and articles on workplace happiness but this one made more of an impact on me. It is a very practical book with lots of strategies and stories to help you see how happy employees can really make a difference to a business. It has a useful focus on the role of the manager – to act as a support rather than a barrier to employees doing what they are good at.
My take on workplace happiness is that if we stopped doing stupid and rude things to each other, we’d have very different workplaces. In some of our workplaces we have got so bogged down that we have forgotten about the human side. Simple measures like saying please and thank you, being respectful – even if you are in a hurry, make a big difference to people. Finding ways of thanking someone for doing a good job can permeate through a team and an office. Involving people in decisions, mentoring and support, good recruitment and talent development all impact on individual employee happiness.
So workplace happiness should have a holistic focus – the organisation needs to get its structures right, and as individual employees how we treat our colleagues on a day to day basis is important. If we could all infect our companies with a daily injection of happiness, how good would that be?
Maybe you have different ideas on workplace happiness – does it really matter if we are happy in work?
Join us for #Chat2lrn this Thursday 14th November 9:00am PDT/12:00pm EDT/4:00pm GMT to share your insights and experiences of workplace happiness.
Chat2lrn crew member, Fiona Quigley, works for Belfast-based Learning Services company www.logicearth.com