24 Jan Who agrees with this? Your bosses first duty is to make you happy!
How many of you enjoy happiness at work?
How many of you feel that your boss, manager or employer is really interested in your happiness, health and wellbeing?
Well, rather than just being a luxery or a nice thing to do Nic Marks, who is the founder of the Centre for Well-being at the New Economics Foundation, London, believes there's much more to it than that…
This article was taken from the Februray 2013 issue of Wired magazine. Be the first to read Wired's articles in print before they're posted online, and get your hands on loads of additional content by subscribing online.
Happiness and work. The two words don't seem to sit well together. Work is about the stuff we have to do. Work is about effort. Work is tough. Happiness, in contrast, is about fun things. Happiness is light. Happiness is even a bit soft and fluffy. So perhaps it is not surprising that people's happiness at work is not taken that seriously by organisations. But I want to explain why this is a serious business mistake and a serious misreading of what happiness is really about.
Happiness is essentially an emotion that we experience and, like all emotions, it has an evolutionary purpose. Anger and fear are central to the fight-or-flight mechanism that has helped us survive and thrive over the millennia. So what is the evolutionary purpose of happiness? Barbara Fred-rickson and colleagues at the University of North Carolina have shown from more than a decade of lab-based research that happiness is about creating and responding to opportunities. She calls this the "broaden and build theory" as the experience of happiness enables us to broaden our range of possible responses to situations and over time helps build our confidence and skills. For example, if we smile, it opens up the possibility of an interaction with someone, as a smile is a signal that we can be approached. Over time this builds functional relationships. When we are in a good mood, not only do we smile more but we can also literally see more — our peripheral vision is enhanced. So when you are in a restaurant and you can't get the attention of a grumpy waiter, it might not be that he is ignoring you, but that he physically doesn't see you. He is not scanning the horizon for opportunities, which results in poor customer service.
But there is a further benefit of happiness that might be even more impactful in helping businesses survive and thrive. Happier people and happier teams are more creative. In her research, Fredrickson looked at how teams functioned in business meetings. She observed that high-performing teams were characterised by much more positivity as well as being more inquiring and innovative. This particular piece of research can claim only to show that high-performing teams are happy. It does not say anything about causality (does high performance create happier employees or vice versa?). Researchers at Gallup have, however, looked at this relationship between employee perceptions (related to what I would call happiness at work) and performance. Using data from more than 2,000 teams with 150,000 members, it showed that both pathways exist but that the impact from happiness at work to performance was twice as large as the other way round. In other words, happiness at work directly leads to higher performance.
What these pieces of research suggest is that businesses should be taking happiness at work more seriously. Of course, this poses the question of how to do this. You can't just tell people to be happier…
…keep reading the full & original article HERE