Happiness in the Workplace?

Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA
Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA

A recent Wall Street Journal article discussed how employers are concerned about their employee happiness and are using all types of technology to evaluate and respond to the level of joy that exists in the workplace.

The idea is that happier employees are more productive and, perhaps more importantly, will tend to stay at the workplace during these times of tight labor markets.

Employers are using everything from software that tracks employee email and intranet comments (apparently the use of the word “I” rather than “we” may indicate unhappiness) to heart rate data gleaned from wearables that might show increased stress that needs to be addressed.

As someone who has been involved  in workplace wellness for many years, it is good to see that psychological and emotional concerns are being addressed. For too long the focus has been on fruit in the breakroom and step monitors to make sure we were getting in our 10000 steps.

Happiness has 2 components. One is the long-term happiness that gives us a sense of life satisfaction (watching our kids succeed, being acknowledged for our community contributions) and the second is about the moment to moment experiences we have as we have in our daily lives as we enjoy the blooming spring flowers or an acknowledgement for a job well done.

The truth is that these kinds of happiness are fleeting and that we need the downturns and challenges to even appreciate the good. The rest of the time is just okay…and that is ok.

I applaud the efforts to recognize and increase happiness in the workplace, but this is looking more like the fad of the week as well as a consequence of a tight marketplace. I just hope that when the economic winds turn and the job market shifts to the employer’s side, they don’t take the attitude of one of my former employers who use to tell everyone on his team….”Why do you think they call it work. Now get back to doing yours!”

Your Challenge This Week: Examine what it is that brings you joy and brings others joy at work. Enjoy those moments and let others know that you see their delight as well. Don’t worry about rating it, just experience it

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