February 20, 2020
Every one of us remembers being asked this simple ice breaker, often in their first few days of a new job: “Are you happy here?”. And you may catch yourself thinking: why does it matter if I’m happy here? Is it not important that I just get the job done, and well? You may shuffle a bit in your seat, give a polite smile and nod towards your enthusiastic co-worker or supervisor before your textbook reply, “Of course,” and then wonder to yourself: am I really?
Underlying this simple question is a complex reality, and an obvious truth: most of us just don’t associate happiness with the workplace. And it’s taking its toll on us and on our company’s performance.
On the other side, a concerned business owner is making connections; why are my efforts towards growing my company not giving me the results I want? You may find yourself laying out game plans and strategies that are falling flat. The answer usually lies in people. As legendary management consultant Peter Drukcer once said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Happiness breeds connection, and connection breeds growth. Focusing on people’s happiness and satisfaction is one of the most important things you can do to spearhead your business’ growth.
A business’ core interest groups are its customers, its partners and its employees, and everything else you do is to build connections between these people. Grow your connections and you will grow your business. At the simplest level ask yourself: what do people need? Most people need purpose. They need to feel like the work they do matters. Now focus on bigger picture: your business, your customers, clients, partners and employees are all people. By informing yourself about what each of these groups needs, wants and values, you can achieve a higher purpose, which in turn becomes your true competitive advantage.
“A ‘company’ is your Company; the people you surround yourself with, day in and day out, to reach common goals, set new standards and effect change in the world.” Beneath the definition of business is a simple reality: a ‘company’ is your company; the people you surround yourself with, day in and day out, to reach common goals, set new standards and effect change in the world. At its core, business is a human-led approach focusing on real human needs.
The Science of Happiness(™) suggests that any workplace should be able to meet the needs of your body, heart, mind and soul through workplace culture, positive psychology, and the satisfying of your core values and principles. It’s important to remember that we like to work! Human beings are social, emotional creatures who like to produce, to share ideas, and to share gratitude. Accommodating these natural desires in your workspace directly affects your employees’ wellbeing and productivity. Having a workplace where colleagues can connect - but also disconnect when needed - is key. If all this seems doubtful, just ask yourself: how many times have you been unable to focus on a task because you were upset, tired, or just unstimulated? How many times has the wonderful human energy of a room led to a spectacular agreement among seemingly opposing parties? Growing your reach, clientele and sales all involve growing connections from people to people.
While, maintaining concentration and motivation is an art practiced at the individual level, a leader’s role is to tailor an environment where those elusive human emotions; purpose, comfort and clarity are easy to maintain. Providing a good physical environment in which to work and gather can quell any external disruptions and ensure smooth and serene workdays. Only then, employees can direct their focus towards your company’s greater needs. On top of supporting your employees’ psychological wellness, when a client or customer feels they have been extended a welcoming hand into the world, interests and happiness of your business, they become invested in the outcomes of your growth. An unsatisfied employee interacting with a client or customer may feel compelled to vouch for their own goals, but that often leads to more unsatisfied people, unsatisfying decisions, and relationships that just don’t last, compromising your potential for growth.
Happiness expands your capacity for empathy and understanding, but also for intelligence, giving you and your business the luxury of being able to look beyond satisfying your immediate goals, and on creating positive outcomes that benefit a larger community, and which allow you to grow within that community.