Workplace Happiness in Numbers
"Happiness counts," says Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a world specialist on happiness and Vice-Chair of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside. According to his research, happiness is a cause of success: happy people get more positive ratings at work, are more productive and creative, earn better salaries, and are less prone to burn out or miss work. Happier people are more likely to get and keep jobs.
Isn't it simple?
However, the truth is that not everyone is as happy as possible. 62% of 5,000 U.S. workers stated that they are happy at work "most of the time," but 96% of those who disagree believe it is possible to be happy at work most of the time, either to a considerable extent (57%) or to some level (39%).
Meanwhile, not only do most of our respondents (68%) agree with Dr. Lyubomirsky that happiness leads to success, but 88%say that seeing people happy at work is an essential factor in deciding whether or not to work for a company. Research findings also show that a lack of happiness is why people consider quitting their jobs.
When it comes to what motivates people to be happy at work, "being stimulated" is critical. Meanwhile, this emotion is a result of feeling challenged at work (43%), being inspired by the people around them (37%), or looking forward to their work environment, rather than "conventional" evaluation metrics such as work/life balance or salary (39% ). With 63% stating work is one of their most significant stressors and an even higher percentage, 84% indicating their job happiness influences their mood at home. With this, we still have a long way to understand workplace happiness.
Mental Health at Work2
Among the chaos and trauma of the COVID-19 crisis, one silver lining is normalizing mental health difficulties at work. Employers were only beginning to recognize the prevalence of mental health issues in 2020, and mental health support has gone from a nice-to-have to a serious business need. By 2021, the stakes have been raised even higher, thanks to an improved understanding of the workplace conditions that might lead to poor mental health. Employers’ measures such as mental health days or weeks, four-day workweeks, and increased counseling benefits or apps have been implemented, yet insufficient. Employees demand and expect long-term, mentally healthy environments, which necessitates tackling the difficult task of culture transformation. It's not enough to just provide the most up-to-date apps or use euphemisms like "wellbeing" or "mental fitness." Employers must link what they say and what they do.
As a result, Harvard Business School researchers recently updated their 2019 Workplace Mental Health report to include implications for 2021. They also provide more insights into how leaders might better assist employee mental health, in addition to an update on how policies have changed since 2019:
1. Changes in culture are occurring. Leaders must approach mental health as a top priority for the company, with measures in place to hold them accountable, such as regular pulse surveys and clear ownership. It should not be left to HR alone.
2. Training. Leaders, supervisors, and all employees must be trained on how to negotiate mental health at work, have difficult conversations, and build supportive environments.
3. Putting money into DEI. Employees should be given the authority to form mental health employee resource groups (ERGs) and other affinity groups, serve as mental health ambassadors, and initiate peer listening activities.
4. Workplaces that are more environmentally friendly. Promoting autonomy, setting boundaries, and establishing norms around communication, responsiveness, and urgency can help create a mentally healthy culture.
5. Creating Deeper Connections. Employers should support continuing, more profound one-on-one talks between managers and direct reports and between coworkers by providing opportunities for connection across the organization.
1 Indeed, 16 March 2020, Indeed Editorial Team, Introducing the Indeed Work Happiness Score, Accessed 31 Jan 2022, https://www.indeed.com/lead/work-happiness-score
2HBR, 4 Oct 2021, Kelly Greenwood and Julia Anas, It’s a new Era for Mental Health at Work, Accessed 31 Jan 2021, https://hbr.org/2021/10/its-a-new-era-for-mental-health-at-work
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