According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, “happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence”.
In fast-paced, busy Singapore, however, many of us have been taught since young that we need to sacrifice our time, our personal relationships and other joys to achieve work success in order to finally attain happiness.
Unfortunately, that view is misguided. Recent scientific research from the field of positive psychology has shown that happiness is not dependent on success; instead, it is an enabler to allow individuals and organisations to succeed.
Organisational research examining happiness has revealed that having a happy workforce helps to increase cost savings as this lowers absenteeism and attrition rates.
More importantly, happiness is also a predictor of health, creativity and energy, which are all crucial in allowing individuals to flourish in their respective professions and organisations. Happy and optimistic employees are therefore more productive, better performers and are able to sell more.
Many business owners and senior managers are unaware of the great impact happiness can have on their business, as their mentality is that their employees are paid to get work done. They have little regard for their employees’ happiness.
What bosses need to realise is that by building a happy workforce, a company will experience a boost in productivity and performance, and this might just be the competitive advantage it needs to outdo the competition.
So how can corporations make employees happy? Money may provide a quick-fix solution, but happiness from a pay rise is often short-lived. Companies need to implement strategies to ensure that employees experience more enduring forms of happiness.
Below are three quick strategies that companies can use to instantly raise their organisational happiness:
Nurture social relationships
Research has shown that socialising with colleagues is one of the best predictors of happiness, and an antidote to stress. Companies should invest and organise events and activities, be it for work or leisure, to bring employees together. This sets a platform to allow natural relationships to be formed, which brings about a sense of positivity and happiness in the office.
Practise “three gratitudes”
Take a minute to think about something you are grateful for. This can be a loved one, your favourite food or a recent holiday — notice how your internal mood instantly changes, making you feel happier.
In all my workshops, I recommend corporations to set aside 15 minutes every week to come together as a team to reflect on the week that has passed.
Everyone in the team is encouraged to share three things they are grateful for, which can be as simple as a daughter giving her mother a peck on the cheek. This helps the team to break down barriers and foster positive emotions, and become more cohesive.
Organise volunteer activities
Studies have found a positive correlation between acts of kindness and happiness. In companies, institutionalising acts of kindness can take the form of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.
Supporting social causes and organising volunteer events where staff can come together to participate in meaningful activities is a good way to start.
This not only helps to increase the level of happiness at the workplace, but also allows employees to experience meaning at work and will help to strengthen the company’s brand image.
All in all, it is important for companies to realise that the pursuit of organisational happiness not only benefits employees, but also increases bottom-line measures like sales and productivity.
This is especially true in a talent-based economy like Singapore, where companies depend greatly on human capital to innovate and help them compete more effectively.
By understanding the research on happiness, companies can seize this window of opportunity and experience an organisational breakthrough like never before.
Article by Benjamin Yang, an industrial organisational psychologist and HAP (Happy and Positive) coach with Richard Gavriel Speaker Management. For more information, e-mail Richard@RichardGavriel.com