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Happiness as a Strategy for a Better Workplace

Entry by JoeDerhake


If we work harder, we become more successful, and then we’ll be happier…. Right? Not so, says Shawn Anchor in a fantastic TED talk I watched the other day (you should watch it too.)  He argues the formula should be flipped around:  First, you must raise positivity and feel good about what you do to achieve what he calls the “happiness advantage” that leads to success. There is plenty of research that shows that happy workers are better at their jobs.

So, find a job that you enjoy, that you find meaning in and that makes you happy and you will never have to work a day in your life! But in practice of course, regardless of the job we’re in we all experience daily stresses like overwhelming workloads, financial pressures, or trying to establish a functional work/life balance.  So how do you find the happiness in the workplace that gives you and your colleagues this winning edge?

Finding the Happiness Advantage at Work

Shawn Anchor’s “Happy Secret to Better Work” talk is based on the concept of positive psychology.  This is the idea that external factors do not shape us, but rather the lens through which our brain views the world. 

A study done at Harvard shows that 90% of long term happiness is determined not by your world, but by the way your brain processes the world. Only 25% of job successes are predicted by I.Q.; 75% of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat.

If you change the way your brain interprets the world, you can change your happiness and every single educational and business outcome at the same time.

The Harvard study showed that a positive brain performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral or stressed.   While in a positive state of mind, your intelligence, creativity and energy levels rise; you are 31% more productive; and business outcomes improve because you’re more resilient, less likely to burn out and 37% better at sales!

So how do we teach our brains to be more positive, even with the daily stresses we encounter? And what can you do to create a working environment that’s conducive to create positive and therefore more productive employees?

Train Your Brain

You can wire your brain to be more positive using only a few minutes a day, for 21 days in a row. The TED talk outlines 5 practical daily habits to manage your own happiness:

  1. Write down 3 things you are grateful for each day. This trains your brain to scan the world for the positive.

  2.  Journal about 1 positive experience in last 24 hours to allow your brain to relive it.

  3. Exercise every day – it teaches your brain that your behavior matters.

  4. Meditation, even if only for 5 minutes, allows your brain to focus on the things that matter, and the task at hand.

  5. Random Acts of Kindness – praise or thank somebody in your social support network.

Positivity in the workplace is contagious but negativity even more so, which means that establishing a corporate culture that promotes happiness (or at least does not cause misery!) is critical.  Companies should strive to:

  1. Be value-centric

  2. Allow people to have fun

  3. Minimize infighting and conflicts in the office

  4. Employ caring career managers; bad bosses are the #1 cause of unhappiness.

In his book “Happy Hour is From 9 to 5”, Alexander Kjerulf explains that results and relationships are the two factors that determine how happy employees are, and that lack thereof creates a much less successful workforce.  At Partner we believe that employees should feel appreciated in the workplace, and understand how what they do contributes to a greater success – whether that is the growth of a company or the bettering of a community.

Taking control of your brain’s positivity will enable you to work harder and more successfully, thereby achieving more with a smile on your face.  Happiness is not only good for the soul, it’s good for your career too!


happiness, career, TED, productivity, positive psychology, partner engineering and science, inc.