Fostering a happy work environment isn’t a luxury or a soft skill. It’s a necessity to maximize a company’s bottom line, says Shawn Achor, author of “The Happiness Advantage,” based on 10 years of research.
To ensure optimism in the workplace, follow these steps:
• Change your mindset. Don’t limit happiness to something deserved only after meeting a goal. Prioritize it now, Achor says. The reason? Happiness is a precursor to success. He points to studies showing that optimistic salespeople outsell negative counterparts by 37%.
• Seed happiness. Write down three things you’re grateful for each day, with at least one being work-related, Achor suggests. Say them out loud at night. Also consider: meeting with an old friend, watching a funny video, reading a favorite blog or looking at your vacation pictures. Such moves “actually increase the success rates of our work,” Achor said.
• Keep relationships strong. Achor cites decades of research showing social support to be the single greatest contributor to personal happiness.
“I found the greatest predictor of success during stress and challenges is the quantity and quality of your relationships,” he told IBD.
• Raise the bar. Work effectiveness is dependent on how much possibility employees see in their jobs.
As a manager, help people recognize their greater potential. “Find out the strengths of the people on your team, and help them leverage those daily,” Achor said.
• Open right. If you’re scanning the world for negatives first, you miss out on the positives. Achor suggests starting meetings with something positive. Frame work situations as positive challenges, not threats.
• Fight stress. After two hours of concentrated work, brain functions slow. Achor recommends taking five minutes of recovery.
“You’ll feel more positive and see a big jump in your concentration and productivity,” he said.
• Praise generously. When leaders increase recognition by one instance per day, a team’s productivity skyrockets, Achor says.
“Expressing gratitude is not only wonderful in the moment, but can elevate your overall sense of happiness,” said Walter Green, former CEO of Harrison Conference Services and author of “This Is the Moment,” a book about the power of gratitude. “Those who are acknowledged and appreciated feel valued, but those bestowing the praise reap tremendous benefits as well.”
Albert Schweitzer, the humanitarian who lived from 1875 to 1965, said: “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.”
• Recognize special people. Make a list of individuals in your company who have made a significant contribution over the long term, Green says. Make bullet points of the things they’ve done, using them as talking points.
• Go the extra mile. When communicating gratitude, don’t be ordinary. Avoid that regular lunch, Green said: “Think of a different way to communicate it, because it’s a different message.”
He suggests reinforcing and memorializing the moment with written praise. “Showing gratitude doesn’t have to cost much money, it doesn’t have to cost much time, and the impact can be extraordinary,” he said.