Happiness at work
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||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (August 2009)|
Despite a large body of positive psychological research into the relationship between happiness and productivity, happiness at work has traditionally been seen as a potential by-product of positive outcomes at work, rather than a pathway to success in business. However a growing number of scholars, including Boehm and Lyubomirsky, state that it should be viewed as one of the major sources of positive outcomes in the workplace.
The use of positive psychology in business has become an increasingly popular and valuable tool with which to manage and develop staff. This then has a flow-on effect for the community that they work in. When these practices are put in place in a community—in this case the business—generally the outcome is a real, direct benefit to the productivity of the business and to a happier and healthier employee.
With the major advances in technology, particularly in a modern office environment, a greater range of information has become easily available to employees. Staff today generally have a much broader knowledge of business environments, and therefore their minimum expectations of what a modern workplace should provide to keep them happy and motivated are fairly high. Very basic programs can be implemented to meet these needs and expectations. As an example, if target ‘A’ is achieved, a new filtered coffee machine will be installed to replace the instant coffee in the staff room. These minor rewards can have a large impact on the staff’s happiness and moods—indeed, the frequency of minor positive rewards is critical for success.
One of the main benefits to a business with a well-planned and well-run program is increased productivity through greater output and less down time. Through a successful positive psychology program, staff can develop a deeper satisfaction in their workplace relationships, and therefore the quality of their work tends to improve, as well. A proactive business manager in today’s business world caters to the needs of his or her staff either by ensuring a well-run in-house program or by bringing in experts to facilitate the development of one.
According to the book, The Joy of Work? Jobs, Happiness, and You, extensive research has demonstrated links between being happier in a job and being better at a job. Companies with higher than average employee happiness exhibit better financial performance and customer satisfaction. Thus, it is beneficial for companies to create and maintain positive work environments and leadership that will contribute to the happiness of their employees. Not only do employees reap these benefits, but the companies will as well. It is common for people to have ambivalent feelings about their work; many people find it difficult to decide if they are actually happy at their job. There are many different feelings related to happiness and the job including morale, job involvement, engagement in the job, flow, and personal meeting. Stress and burnout contribute to unhappiness at a job.
Happiness often precedes measures of success. Research demonstrates there is a relationship between happiness and workplace success. Happy people earn more money, display superior performance, and perform more helpful acts which typically exemplify success at work. Positive affect leads to improved workplace outcomes. When individuals experience positive affect, they become more motivated to invest time and effort, and overcome obstacles when pursuing their career goals, in part because they believe they have more control over attaining their career goals.
Workplace happiness has been skewed by popular culture. There are negative images of work in contemporary media, such the television show The Simpsons. Positive views of working are portrayed by figures such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, Sigmund Frued, and Henry Ford. Work is depicted as both bad and good; children and adults have been encouraged to emphasize the negative and downplay the idea that jobs can actually contribute to happiness. Instead, people are prone to thinking that work only leads to unhappiness.
Western philosophy and religion adds to the view that happiness is a consequence of goal striving and attainment. Based on Aristotle’s philosophy that limiting happiness to achieve what is worth desiring[clarification needed], work itself is a key to happiness and ultimately redemption[clarification needed]. People are focused to goal attainment to the point that they neglect to feel happy in the journey.
The notion of employee engagement is based on a positive psychology approach, whereby employees are fully engaged and enthusiastic about their work. Employee engagement correlates with some organizational tactics, such as human resource policies and procedural justice. Engagement also correlates with positive outcomes such as growth, lower costs, and lower absenteeism. Work engagement is important to the positive organizational scholarship (POS) field because engagement can lead to a number of positive outcomes, such as in role and extra role performance, client satisfaction, proactivity, adaptivity, and creativity. (Rothbard 2012).
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