Smile! Happiness At Work Is More Important Than You Think

August 25, 2010

Business people gathered around a table with hands together in the centerAccording to Forbes, it pays to be happy at work. Research conducted by Jessica Pryce-Jones, author of Happiness at Work and CEO of iOpener, showed that the happy worker is indeed the productive worker. Pryce-Jones and her team conducted focus groups with 3,000 participants in 79 countries and discovered that the happiest employees are 180 percent more energized, 108 percent more engaged, 50 percent more motivated and 50 percent more productive than their less content colleagues. Furthermore, the results also showed that the happiest employees took 66 percent less sick leave. "Happiness at work is closely correlated with greater energy, better reviews, faster promotion, higher income, better health and increased happiness with life," said Pryce-Jones.

BNET reported that economist Andrew Oswald also found similar results during a recent experiment. Oswald asked two groups of volunteers to answer a set of math questions. One group watched British comedy routines before starting the assignment, while the other group did not. According to Oswald, the group who had a good laugh was 12 percent more productive.

While being happy at work had positive results, being unhappy had negative effects as well. According to Forbes, unhappy employees are less creative, less able to solve problems and more likely to spread their misery. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, called this the "emotional contagion"--people tend to catch the happy, sad or angry moods of others around them.

BNET pointed out that the data illustrated what all good CEOs know: emotion and work are deeply connected. That said, experts stated that employee happiness and wellbeing should be a top priority.

However, Srikumar S. Rao, author of Happiness at Work: Be Resilient, Motivated, and Successful--No Matter What, told Forbes that "the workplace is frequently beyond the ability of an employee to change. So the process of being happy has to start with that employee".

Forbes came up with a list of tips to help employees find happiness at work. As Rao pointed out, sometimes it is necessary to change the way you make sense of certain situations in order to change your mood. For example, Forbes recommended getting rid of mental labels at the office--judging people and things can often become a self-fulfilling prophecy. "If you decide something is bad, it most likely will be," said Rao.

Forbes also pointed out the importance of letting things go--in other words, do not dwell on the bad stuff. Being able to learn from a situation and move on quickly will greatly increase happiness at work.

Outside of the office, it is important to have restorative time. After a long stressful day, it is necessary to relax and recharge. Forbes recommended taking a peaceful walk during lunch or listening to an audiobook during the commute home.

People also tend to be happier when they feel connected to the work they do. If you start to feel disconnected from what you do, think about the big picture or consider how your job aligns with your personal values, suggested Forbes. "The money you earn supports your life outside of work, and whether that's your family or a hobby, it's a good reason to keep coming in with a smile."

Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin


"10 Tips To Find Happiness At Work," Forbes.com, March 4, 2010

"Happiness at Work Isn't Soft, It's Smart," BNET.com, August 19, 2010, Margaret Heffernan

"Start Smiling: It Pays To Be Happy At Work," Forbes.com, August 14, 2010, Vicki Salemi

"The Real Value Of Happiness At Work," Forbes.com, June 28, 2010, Sangeeth Varghese

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