10 Jul Happiness is worth working for
Jessica Pryce-Jones was taking her lunch-time run around St James’s Park in London when she realised just how unhappy she was in her job. “I wondered if I could get gently hit by a bus because then I wouldn”t have to go back to work,” she said.
Fortunately there were no buses in the vicinity but the thought itself was enough to spur her into action: she quit her job, studied psychology and went on to found iOpener, a consultancy that specialises in improving performance by making people happier.
“There’s a really strong link between happiness and productivity,” she said. “People who are happy at work do, in effect, one day more a week than their unhappiest colleagues.”
But boosting productivity through happiness is not a simple matter of offering pay rises or bringing in an interior decorator to feng shui the office. In fact, Pryce-Jones’s research suggests that neither of these things will make the slightest difference.
What people actually want from work is to do something they feel is both valuable and valued, she said. Managers can make a difference by taking simple steps such as acknowledging good work and giving people more control about how they manage their tasks. “The big thing everyone wants is to fulfil their potential and do interesting things that stretch them.”
However, individuals also have to take responsibility for their own happiness.
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