About Me

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Happiness at work

About three months ago, I organized a cross-functional brainstorming session of colleagues at work to determine new course ideas for continuing education.  After listing all of the ideas, with the help of a smart student, we arrived at a mind map of the ideas.  The outcome was a course on Positive Psychology that will be offered during the summer as an evening class.

In the process of finding an instructor for that class, I came across a book called “Happiness at Work – Maximizing your Psychological Capital for Success” by Jessica Pryce-Jones.  The author’s research compared unhappiest and happiest people at work and found that the happy people are 180 percent more energized, 180 percent happier with life, 155 percent happier in their job, achieve their goals 30 percent more, and contribute 25 percent more. 

The author is quick to note that happiness at work absolutely isn’t about always smiling, thinking positively, or about being in a permanently sunny mood.  In fact she says that is patently absurd and does not work.  “It involves a mix of high moments accompanied by some low ones, a journey in which you grow and flourish, and at the same time overcome your negative emotions.  And you can do that best when you use insight and reason to help you.  Sometimes the tasks, resources, outcomes, and time-frames are clear and comfortable, sometimes they’re not.  But the tough stuff results in learning.  Because that’s when you have to struggle to perform at your best, or make a breakthrough in what you’re doing.  So extend yourself and fulfill your potential.” 

Achieving your potential is the key.  The author notes that there are five clear factors which are called the 5Cs at the core structure of happiness at work.  They are (i) Contribution – your effort, (ii) Conviction – your motivation no matter what the circumstance, (iii) Culture – how you fit at work, (iv) Commitment – your extent of engagement, and (v) Confidence – belief in yourself and your job. 

The inner tier of the 5Cs consists of Pride, Trust, and Recognition.  If you are proud of your workplace, you will also trust your colleagues and leaders and vice versa.  Pride is about the value of your work and trust is your faith in the organization.  Recognition is about what you get back from your work. 

Finally, the happiest people work are 47 percent more productive that their least happy colleagues.  “In concrete yet conservative terms they are contributing a day and a quarter more than their least happy colleagues. Per week.”