Tag Archives: happiness in workplace

Pursuit of Happiness in Workplace: Achieve, Recognition, Engage, Relationship: Focus on Things That Matter…

Most people want to be happy and in fact, the pursuit of happiness is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence; it’s an unalienable right. But studies have found a paradox: The pursuit of happiness tends to make people unhappy… People are spending a fortune on finding happiness, and becoming less happy in the process… A series of studies carried out by psychologists at UC Berkeley showed that paradoxically; the more intensely people value, pursue happiness as a distinct goal, then the more likely they are to display symptoms of unhappiness, anxiety, loneliness, even depression… And this is a major disruptive issue in many workplaces…

Organization must create a safe, congenial, productive work space where workers can thrive and become fully engaged with their work experience… According to Gretchen Spreitzer this means, e.g.; (1) provide workers with more opportunities for decision-making, (2) share information about organization’s strategy and competitive challenges, (3) set and reinforce norms that promote civil and respectful behavior, (4) offer feedback on outcomes of important initiatives… When leaders create ‘open’ workplaces– workers grow, develop, thrive… Hence, when it comes to happiness in workplace, organizations must focus on concrete issues, not abstract ideas…

In the article Research About Happiness at Work by André Spicer, Carl Cederström write: The concept of happiness to boost productivity has gained increased traction in corporate circles… Organizations are spending a lot of money on happiness– coaches, team-building exercises, game-plays, funsultants, even Chief Happiness Officers… These activities may appear jovial, or even bizarre, but organizations are taking them extremely seriously… But when you look closely at the research it’s actually not clear that encouraging happiness at work is always a good idea…

Yes there is evidence to suggest that happy employees are less likely to leave, more likely to satisfy customers, are safer, and more likely to engage in citizenship behavior… However there are also alternate findings, which indicates that some of the ‘take-for-granted’ wisdom about what happiness can achieve in the workplace are mere myths… To start, there are a wide range of definitions for ‘happiness’– it’s an individual thing– each person has their own definition of what make them happy– hence, trying to develop a universal measurement can be rather elusive…

According to Darrin M. McMahon; happiness is a slippery concept and it can be a proxy for all sorts of things– from pleasure & joy, to plenitude & contentment… A stream of research shows contradictory results about happiness and its relationship to productivity. One study even suggested there might be negative correlation between job satisfaction (happiness) and productivity, i.e.; the more miserable workers were, the better the profits… Sure, other studies have pointed in the opposite direction, saying that there is a link between feeling content with work and productive. But even these studies, when considered as a whole, demonstrates a relatively weak correlation…

Happiness, of course, is a great thing to experience but it’s nothing that can be ‘willed’ into existence. And maybe the less we seek to actively pursue happiness in the workplace, the more likely we are to actually experience it– it’s happiness which is spontaneous and pleasurable, and not constructed and oppressive… But there is also a workplace reality that must cope with in a sober manner. To actually see the reality for what it is; and not as you– executives or worker– pretend that it is…

In the article Why Happiness at Work Really Matters by John Collins writes: Are you happy at work? Are the people around you at work happy? Should you even care as long as the work is getting done? It turns out you should– happy organizations are more successful on a range of metrics– but creating a happy work environment is counter intuitive… Research and practice both show that what makes people happy in the workplace is not obvious– its individual thing– and the relatively easy things to provide, such as; good pay, free food, perks… are very much over-rated…

You might think providing perks, such as; free food, massages in the office, on-site medical services, gym facilities… would ensure a happy workforce. But the equation is not that simple– it’s not just a case of perks-in, happiness-out… While benefits may attract workers to an organization… they are not necessarily effective at improving an organization’s performance; it’s ‘passion’ not ‘perks’ that are the big contributor to success…

Part of the problem is that humans are incredibly good at adapting and get used to almost anything– good or bad. A classic study was done by Philip Brickman, Dan Coates and Ronnie Janoff-Bulman at University of Massachusetts in 1979. They compared lottery winners to accident survivors who were paraplegics and quadriplegics… they found no significant different in general happiness. People who had won big on the lottery were happy about their good fortune, but in fact took less pleasure from everyday activities than the accident survivors…

A big salary, although it makes life more enjoyable, it’s not the key to happiness… It actually can come to play as a factor of unhappiness– workers are unhappy when they think others in the organization are being paid more than them, to do the same task… A Princeton study found that workers who are highly paid are relatively satisfied, but they are barely happier day-to-day– they tend to always want more– never really satisfied… According to Alexander Kjerulf; workers are much happier when they are recognized for achievement and more engaged as they develop productive relationships… Happiness is manifested thru self-esteem, not self-indulgence…