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  • Writer's pictureAtul Holkar

Happy Employees Winning Business

Every business that is trying to survive in the current climate of intense competition is willing to try every trick in the book to gain the upper hand. Long-term sustenance in the marketplace is largely determined by a company's capacity to keep growing. However, no matter how growth-oriented a company's leadership is, it often comes down to the employees of the company to take the business to the next level. Close competitors in any industry mostly match in all aspects except one, and that is how happy are their employees? Is happiness at work an important factor? If it is, exactly how important? Lets' find out.

Is employee happiness important for any company?

Anne Mckee, the Senior Fellow at University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education and co-author of bestseller Primal Leadership, says, "I've always been fascinated to find that rare and special company where people are happy to work. In these companies, people are profoundly Engaged, Motivated and Committed. Immersed in the happiness both the individuals and the enterprise thrive.

Companies with happy and engaged employees outperform their competition by 20 per cent. Studies in the field of positive psychology and neuroscience show that happiness is important for personal and organizational growth. Happier employees do better on all fronts, from day-to-day health to productivity to career advancement, which consistently perks up the bottom line. Still, we see that even in the best of the companies where employees are not at all happy at work. They are struggling; feeling stressed all the time in turn, affecting overall productivity. Scientific findings are showing that of the 28 different things that we might be doing in a day, work ranks very low in terms of how happy we are and making us happy.

Now that we know, how important employee happiness is for the growth and development of a company, let us try to examine its role and impact, and what can we do to improve employee happiness in any organization.

How do you define 'Happiness at Work'?

Is getting a great increment, or a good cabin, even a promotion of happiness? Emiliana Simon- Thomas, the science director at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley explains, happiness is not momentary emotions like amusement, enthusiasm, pride or relief, nor is it maintaining a "state of perpetual cheerfulness". Happiness is not all about pleasure and hedonism. It is not achieved by gratifying all of your desires or by maximizing luxurious experiences. Happiness is not a "tireless climb" towards the achievement of status.

Sonya Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at the University of California at Riverside defines Happiness as the experience of joy, contentment, or "positive wellbeing," combined with a sense that one's "life is good," meaningful and worthwhile.

Happiness at work, therefore, involves an overall sense of enjoyment, intrinsically driven to make progress towards goals and to know "that what we do matter at work. (The Greater Good Science Centre, UC Berkeley)

How to work toward happiness at work?

Now that we know the very essence and benefits of happiness at work, how can we foster, support, and build it?

There is no single, simple answer to this question. However, The Greater Good Science Centre at UC, Berkley has identified four key pillars of happiness at work: Purpose, Engagement, Resilience, and Kindness—or PERK, as in to PERK up your happiness at work or make happiness your company's best PERK.

Studies report multiple ways to strengthen each pillar of PERK on personal, social, and structural levels at work—through individual exercises and activities, the development of key social skills, shifts in leadership style, organization-wide initiatives, and changes in company policies, more related to human resources, which needs to be more humane.

1. Purpose: We have a sense of purpose when we make valuable contributions to others (individuals and organizations). Companies must promote purpose by making core values explicit at the workplace, and implementing policies that align people's day-to-day experiences with core values.

2. Engagement: Engagement can be defined as positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind. "In other words, an engaged employee has a strong sense of energy, dedication to, and absorption in work activities. An engaged employee brings their whole self. To do this, some companies are shifting away from the typical hyper-busy, multitasking, always-available, meeting-clogged schedule—and at the same time encouraging off-work downtime. Some are even barring work-related emails off the office hours.

3. Resilience: It is being able to handle adversity with grace, to face challenges and recover from setbacks, be accountable for failures and resolve conflict at work. Being resilient does not mean never experiencing difficulties. It just means that we are able to bounce back from those moments more positively and constructively. The organizational leadership and the HR department needs to play a more constructive role and avoid being stuck into inflexible and emotionless structures of KRAs and KPIs

4. Kindness: This does not mean only being nice to other people, though that is not a bad start, so long as your niceness is genuine. Kindness is a broader orientation towards forming strong, supportive, social connections at work that "scientists call pro-social, that helps us to interact in more trusting, inclusive, and cooperative ways with colleagues at work.

It is now very clear that no business entity can grow beyond a point if the happiness of employees is not one of its key strategies. Taking care of the happiness and wellbeing of the employees makes the employees' natural partner of the organizational growth and the best thing is that it hardly costs anything.

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