5 elements to achieve happiness at work

While most of us would agree that we would rather employees be happy than unhappy, the nature of happiness is so complex that it often seems like something beyond an employer’s duty. After all, as Richard Easterlin describes so well in his eponymous paradox and in his recent book Lessons from an economist on happinessfinancial well-being often has a fairly limited impact on our overall happiness.

That shouldn’t discourage us, however, especially since research from the University of Oxford found that happy workers are around 13% more productive than their darker peers. “We found that when workers are happier, they work faster making more calls per hour worked and, importantly, convert more calls into sales,” the researchers explain.

The researchers mirror Easterlin’s finding that paid work has little to do with our happiness, so what does it do? Insight may come from Harvard scholar Tal-Ben Shahar, who describes what he believes to be the key to happiness in his recently published book. happiness studies.

The SPIRE of Happiness – Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Relational, Emotional

It refers to the need to focus on ourselves in order to be truly happy, and only when our “whole being” has been satisfied will we be on the right path. By doing this, we can begin to understand the different components that make us who we are, and can then begin to address those aspects of our being and the relationship between them.

“Every element of the whole being – every part that makes up the whole – is an indirect path to the promised land of happiness,” he writes. “Consistent with the interdisciplinary nature of happiness studies, I have come to view well-being as a multidimensional and multifaceted variable that includes spiritual well-being, physical well-being, intellectual well-being, relational well-being and emotional well-being.

These five SPIRE elements allow us to indirectly aim to become happier, whether through regular exercise, focused work, continuous learning, and quality time with family and friends, but Beh-Shahar thinks there are has a number of things we can strive to provide in the workplace to contribute to a happier workforce.

spiritual happiness

For example, in the context of spiritual happiness, the key is to achieve the kind of goal-filled life that has been talked about so often in recent years. Although having meaning in our professional lives may not be what many describe as a spiritual experience, Ben-Shahar believes that spirituality is essentially a search for meaning, so it should be completely apply.

If you want to make changes in this way, tools like task creation can be a fantastic introduction. Job creation is when employer and employee work together to design meaningful and useful work, with evidence suggesting this not only makes us more productive, but also more engaged with our employer and happier. in our life.

physical happiness

Physical health has obviously come to the fore during the Covid pandemic to ensure that people are not only safe from disease but also protected from the various stresses that have emerged over the last 18 months. He re-emphasized the importance of things like good sleep, adequate exercise, and healthy eating to our happiness and efficiency at work.

We’re seeing more and more managers take more interest in the whole life of their employees, and things like workout games have been shown to not only improve employees’ physical well-being, but also cohesion and team unity.

Intellectual health

For intellectual happiness, Ben-Shahar believes curiosity is the key. This makes perfect sense as we live in an age of lifelong learning where it is paramount that we are all able to adapt to the rapid pace of change in the world around us. It is no longer enough to think and learn to be something done by the few in our organizations and the rest just go through the motions every day.

Developing a culture of curiosity in our organizations requires not only the psychological safety that allows people to express themselves, even against the grain, but also the creation of conditions for curiosity to flourish.

Relationship happiness

The Covid pandemic has shed light on the importance of others to our happiness, with loneliness reaching endemic levels. In the workplace, it has also shown its importance, with friendships at work being strongly linked to happiness and longevity at work. The virtual nature of much of working life during Covid has made building these relationships a bit more difficult and it is important that life post-Covid fills these gaps.

Ben-Shahar also suggests that it is important for us to encourage ourselves and others to give freely to those around us. Taking an open and helpful approach to our work has been demonstrated by Adam Grant not only for us as individuals, but also for our teams and organizations. Giving to others also makes us happy, so it’s definitely something to pursue.

emotional well-being

Last but not least, our emotions, and we can often fall into the trap of thinking that emotions have no place at work because it’s neither professional nor commercial. Ben-Shahar suggests this is counterproductive, and while managers are to cheer us all on, emotions are a big part of that. We are seeing this more and more in the workplace with an appreciation for things like grief, but also the anxieties that have surfaced during the pandemic.

Managers need to be able to deal with all of their staff’s emotions to enable them to be truly happy and engaged, and being versed in active listening can be a good first step towards achieving such a culture.

Achieving happiness in these uncertain times is by no means easy, but following the SPIRE approach is sure to get you moving in the right direction. Whether you’re just managing yourself or managing others, it’s something to aspire to.


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