I think it goes without saying that having a happy workforce is important. Data shows that happiness is an indicator of the quality of one’s work, especially over time. We know that when people feel part of team that has energy, collaboration, and sense of making a difference, productivivity and retention go up (Harvard Business Review, Jan/Feb 2012). Successful teams have high levels of trust, shared accountability, and collaboration that makes the work fun.
Yet we can get into mindset I like to call the “Happiness Trap”. We get caught up in happiness meaning that everyone is smiling, joking, and laughing at work all the time. In today’s fast-paced, intense, results-driven workplace, that isn’t realistic. The truth is, your inbox has a mind of it’s own. That perfectly manicured, productive day you had planned out implodes at 8:05 am. By 8:07 am you are most definately not happy. To create a happy culture, just like creating a happy life, you have to work from the inside, out. Employees don’t need constant ease and joy in order to be happy at work. What employee’s need is for the work to be meaningful and worth it. In fact, in my almost 20 years studying human psychology and organizatinal development, some of the most meaningful work that brought happiness to my clients was also work that was very difficult, challenging, and required a lot of sacrafice on their part.
If creating a happy culture is an inside job then it has to start with employees. Customers will never love a company until the employees do first. When leaders carve the time to have conversations with co-workers about what matters to them, they can create cultures where people connect, feel seen and heard, and thrive in all areas of their lives. Happy employees work harder, are more engaged, and will stay with a company through rapid change and transition if the culture supports who they are as people. Designing your culture takes thought, time, and care, but in the end it is priceless to have company culture that people are talking about.
Creating a culture shift towards happiness is really centered on creating a culture that supports meaningful work. This shift doesn’t happen magically. It can’t be served in some cookie-cutter, canned programming. . It may not be easy to design a culture, but it is always worth it.