Well, this blog isn’t exactly about a specific index, but wouldn’t it be nice to know just how happy we are?

Just googling “Happiness Scale” threw up online tests such as the “Subjective Happiness Scale” developed by Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness. But what has this got to do with anything?

I have long thought that if someone were happy at work, they would, in general, be able to perform better than someone who was unhappy. It made sense, then, for management to try whatever means to create a happy working environment, so that employees could be engaged and motivated.

Scientists have long shown that when the brain is happy, it makes it more conducive to learning. The other notable result of neuroscience studies on happiness is that a happy brain performs better. Some people may approach these findings cynically, but even from a business angle, Harvard Business Review (HBR) recently reported that happier employees give companies better returns!

The HBR article refers to research conducted by Alex Edmans from The Wharton School which indicates that corporations listed in Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For in America” had equity returns that were 3.5% per year higher than those of their peers, indicating that employee satisfaction correlates positively with shareholder returns.

Wouldn’t it make complete business sense, then, to put in place employee engagement strategies to ensure that our employees (ourselves included) are positively motivated, in order to do well?

How do we do this? Will an increase in happiness really enhance our performance?

The research seems to imply that happiness results in success and not, what is often thought, that success results in happiness. We shouldn’t just focus on working hard, but we should focus on how we can help our brain be positive, which results in more conducive learning, better performance, which ultimately brings success. And, if an individual can perform better just by being happy, what more can happy teams achieve? We must start looking at improving the way we work, as individuals, and in our teams. Habits need to change in order for attitudes and cultures to change.

These sorts of changes cannot be had through just a 1-day workshop or a 3-day retreat. These can definitely be starting points, but more importantly, the question to be answered is “how can organisational culture and habits be changed to make a positive impact”?

The answer may lie in understanding your individual motivators and those of your co-workers. If we can understand what makes us all tick, perhaps we can start to motivate and engage ourselves and those we live and work with. To this end, psychometric tools like Emergenetics can help us achieve this by taking the first steps of understanding ourselves and those around us.

More information about how positive psychology and the science of happiness can impact us can be found here. Perhaps much of what is being said can be summarised with this quote from Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky:

“Research is showing pretty convincingly now that happiness is really within us, it’s not outside of us. It’s in what we do. It’s sort of how we act, how we think every day of our lives.”

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