Unhappy at work? Here are 5 science-based ways to improve things for you and your colleagues during International Happiness at Work Week

The science of happiness has never been more important in guiding us towards actions that make the biggest difference – whether at home, or in the workplace. Here are 5 science-based ways to boost the happiness of you, your colleagues, and your customers.

Originally posted back in April, this re-post is adjusted for our Covid-19 times.

  1. Put happiness first. Happiness leads to great work, not the other way around. So choose strategies that support the growth of wellbeing and contentment amongst colleagues, customers and partners. Ask yourself ‘will it make me happier?’
  2. Be kind. We can all remember powerful examples of the presence or absence of kindness at work. People who were treated kindly at work have been shown to repay it by being 278% more generous to coworkers. Be kind, too, to yourself – especially in these times of crisis.
  3. Get outside. Nature is good for you. People who have a higher degree of connectedness to nature not only report greater pro-environmental behaviour, but are also more satisfied with life, happier and more positive. A dose of 2 hours a week can be enough, and fits with our current ‘physical distancing’ requirements. Can you get a walk in the park at lunchtime?
  4. Be grateful. A grateful mindset predicts greater happiness, life satisfaction and optimism – and lower envy, possessiveness, anxiety, and depression. Reflect on what you are grateful for yourself. And when you are more physically disconnected from colleagues, increase the praise and recognition.
  5. Get coaching. Our work shows that coaching leads to an average c45% reduction in negative emotions like distress, nervous, afraid. In other words, leaving people feel more positive. Evidence elsewhere shows that coaching helps executive leaders to improve relationships at work, amongst other benefits.

More

  • People who were treated kindly at work repaid it by being 278% more generous to coworkers compared to a control group (Chancellor et al 2018)
  • Kindness creates less loneliness, with stronger immune system and overall health (Post 2005)
  • Volunteers aged 55 and up who volunteer for 2 or more charities have 44% overall reduction in likelihood of death (Oman et al 1999)
  • Helping others protects from heart disease twice as much as aspirin (Post & Neimark 2007)
  • People who have a higher degree of connectedness to nature not only report greater pro-environmental behaviour (e.g., Gosling & Williams, 2010), but are also more satisfied with life and have higher happiness and positive affect (Mayer & Frantz, 2004; Tam, 2013).
  • Individuals have both lower mental distress and higher well-being when living in urban areas with more green space (White et al 2013)
  • Combined views of nature & daylighting can improve productivity & absenteeism up to 6.5%. (Ihab M.K. Elzeyadi, 2011)
  • Types of goals are most associated with happiness: non-zero goals which encompass welfare of others; goals that increase autonomy, competence or relatedness; intrinsic goals – e.g. deeper relationships (not extrinsic – ie stuff).
  • A grateful mindset predicts greater happiness, life satisfaction and optimism – and lower envy, possessiveness, anxiety, and depression. More pro-social leadership, greater relationship satisfaction and cooperation, more generous behaviour.
  • Research at the Greater Good Science Centre has shown that the single biggest happiness boosting practice can be a ‘gratitude letter’. It’s a powerful way to reflect and show appreciation and reverence for someone…could you try it?
  • The Institute of Coaching, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, identifies a range of benefits from coaching. These include gaining more job and life satisfaction, and working more easily and productively with others (boss, direct reports, peers).

Photo: Stockvault.net

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