Case Study: Happiness in the Workplace - Part 1


If we are not happy at work, how can we be happy at all?

It is one of the big topics of the moment: everyone is talking about happiness at work.

I spend half my life working, so naturalIy wonder- "If we are not happy at work, how can we be happy at all?”

We say that working is linked to the existential question of the human condition: the search for his/her humanity. It is through work that people realise themselves; it is there that they find their possibility to impact the world around them; to give shape to their talents and where they have the greatest opportunity to contribute to a greater cause. It is obvious that work plays a fundamental role in human well-being. Work has the potential to elevate the human condition.

But is this true for all people, for all organisations?

In general terms, I believe that happiness is everyone's responsibility, but in this specific case, organisations have a fundamental role in providing a happy workplace for their employees.

A culture of happiness at work is a goal that each organisation should aspire to on behalf of its employees as it is in their best interest to nurture and obtain the maximum potential from every individual employee which fully contributes to the company's overall success.

Ultimately, based on the best scientific opinions, we are talking about creating a competitive advantage at companies where happiness thrives.

Well, what does talking about Organisational Happiness mean?

Company breakfast? Happy Hour? Attractive pay scale? Yoga Time? Casual Friday?

It may be all of these, but it's so much more.

We could talk about the need to clearly define the role of the employee, to assign him/her challenging tasks and projects, to promote learning and development opportunities, work/family life balance, transparency in performance assessment and routes for career advancement, integration of dignified and respectful processes, a leadership that practices authenticity, etc…

I believe that all this justifies all of our efforts of contribuing towards the greater goal of building an environment based on trust.

Trust is a concept that comes from experience: it depends on the history we have with someone or something. If, in the past, we were bitten by a dog, we will probably become more inclined not to trust dogs. Pretty simple, right?

Trust also comes from observed behaviour and consistency between what one says and what one does, on a continuum that justifies an expected pattern and perceived shared values.

In general, it translates into an expectation of stable, trustworthy and cooperative behaviour within a community which enhances a sense of security.

It is in the creation of this network of trust that organisations should invest the most and that emerges when their entire culture is aligned with their mission, strategy, and objectives.

These are choices the organisation makes to do what it stands for, consistently, repeatedly and in all circumstances; it is its lifestyle.

In business, as in the human race, what gives the competitive advantage is not being the strongest or the largest, rather it is the propensity to create a cohesive culture, to rally people around a set of values and beliefs giving them reason to trust that everyone will behave in line with those values and will choose to do what is right for their community in all circumstances.

This is the spark that allowed us to leave the den and go hunting while the rest of the community protected our home and children.

It is this spark that makes employees leave their homes, their children, and for half of their waking lives proudly "wear the jersey" of an organization, and defend it tooth and nail.

For an organisation, to create this strong a culture that its employees can identify with and trust because that culture resonates in everything -- in every procedure, in all products and services -- is what ensures that vigorous networks of cooperation and bonds of trust are formed. This translates into more optimistic, resilient, secure and eventually happier people, people who feel they are contributing, in a systematic way, to a greater cause.

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