April 6, 2016


Business owners and operators understand key components like setting challenging sales goals and devoting time to employee training can increase the bottom line. But, is workplace happiness also a key to success? According to Shawn Achor, author of the international best-selling book The Happiness Advantage, it is.

“Data abounds showing that happy workers have higher levels of productivity, produce higher sales, perform better in leadership positions, and receive higher performance ratings,” Achor writes in the book. “They also are less likely to take sick days, to quit, or to become burned out. What this means is that companies and leaders who take measures to cultivate a happy workplace will not only have more productive and efficient workers—they’ll have less absenteeism and lower healthcare expenditures.”

Below are three strategies for encouraging happiness.

  • Create Small Moments: Cultivating happiness doesn’t have to involve bold gestures. Studies have proven techniques like looking at a family photo or spending 20 minutes outside can boost happiness and creativity. According to Achor, “a short humorous video clip, a quick conversation with a friend, or even a small gift of candy can produce significant and immediate boosts in cognitive power and job performance.” Managers can create opportunities for happiness by sharing funny YouTube videos at meetings, sending employees outside for breaks on nice days or providing a bulletin board where employees can post photos of family and friends.
  • Offer Positive Feedback: “One study found that project teams with encouraging managers performed 31 percent better than teams whose managers were less positive and less open with praise,” Achor writes. “In fact, when recognition is specific and deliberately delivered, it is even more motivating than money.” Managers should especially recognize employee skills. According to Achor, “Each time we use a skill, whatever it is, we experience a burst of positivity.” Managers can improve workplace happiness by putting employees in positions that best utilize their skills and providing praise.
  • Encourage Gratitude and Acts of Kindness: Both gratitude and acts of altruism have been shown to increase happiness. Managers can encourage employees to conduct acts of kindness by offering channels for giving. Secret Santa or secret buddy programs fall under this category. Also, keeping small gifts, stickers or special one-time coupons for employees to hand out at random to customers would be fun for employees and customers alike. To promote gratitude, managers can ask employees to write or share special moments or people they are grateful for during their shifts. Share these employee gratitudes, along with any positive customer feedback, with the staff at weekly meetings.

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