Wednesday 23 October 2019 ,
Wednesday 23 October 2019 ,
Latest News
  • It's a responsibility for all to ensure road safety: PM
  • One-minute digital account service kicks off
  • Bhola SP’s Facebook ID hacked
  • Govts, Internet companies fail to meet challenges of online hate: UN expert
  • National Road Safety Day today
24 May, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Print

We can’t expect to be happy all of the time

A corporate culture where one feels compelled to smile and be positive when one truly feels sad, dissatisfied or anxious is, at best, depleting
Justin Thomas
We can’t expect to be happy all of the time
Dr. Nalini Saligram, founder of the non-profit organisation Arogya World, which aims to combat killer diseases, leading a workshop on wellbeing in the workplace

Employee happiness is linked to improved workplace productivity, according to numerous studies.

Experimental research from cognitive psychology to affective neuroscience (the study of the neural mechanisms of emotions) repeatedly supports such claims.

An article published in the Harvard Business Review analysed hundreds of studies linking happiness to productivity and after crunching the numbers, the article concluded that happy people were 31 per cent more productive and three times more creative than their unhappy counterparts.

The bottom line? Happiness is good for business.

Efforts to promote employee happiness and wellbeing have blossomed in recent years. They are everywhere.

However, like many initiatives that have their roots in empirical research, the real world implementation can often be a gross degeneration and misreading of the original idea.

For example, forcing employees to wear tee shirts emblazoned with slogans such as “happy to help” or “I love my job” is not promoting employee wellbeing.

Putting up balloons with smiley faces on and calling a basic tearoom a “happiness lounge” is not promoting employee wellbeing.

In some organisations, the happiness and wellbeing agenda descends into a competitive cult of pseudo positivity, where employees feel compelled to smile on pain of dismissal.

Such an environment might be decorated prettily and host lots of fun activities but it is doing little to safeguard or promote employee wellbeing. A corporate culture where one feels compelled to smile and be positive when one truly feels sad, dissatisfied or anxious is, at best, depleting.

Thankfully, some organisations have moved beyond the veneer of forced positivity and offer evidence-based initiatives that help employees manage stress, explore emotions and ultimately flourish.

The most notable of these interventions is mindfulness-based stress reduction. At the heart of this programme is the idea that “it’s okay not to feel okay”. The sad face emoji has a place too.

The programme also stresses the idea that all mood states – from happiness to sadness and anxiety – are transitory guests that will leave eventually. Negative or unpleasant moods are not banished, they just meet a differ Its ranks include giants such as Google, Intel and General Mills. The decision to offer such programmes is often driven by a top-down appreciation of the benefits of mindfulness.

Notable corporate bosses such as Ray Dalio, the billionaire founder of Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund and Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s chief executive, are both vocal about their appreciation of mindfulness practices for themselves and their employees. In successful business, employee happiness must be a top priority. It is a key component of business performance, it is a catalyst for company prosperity, and it contributes immensely to the long-term sustainability of an organization. In the workplace, happiness translates to employee productivity, engagement, and retention; all of which are mutually dependent on one another and are fundamental pillars of an effective and advantageous corporate culture.

According to Growth Everywhere, companies with happy employees outperform their competition by 20 percent.  These are the companies whose workforces are highly engaged and in turn, highly productive and committed to their organization. There are clear advantages of having happy and engaged employees, but even so, only 13 percent of workers around the world consider themselves actively engaged in their jobs, while nearly one quarter are actively disengaged, says data from a 2016 meta-analysis by The Gallup Organization.

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, these figures are largely consistent: only one in ten MENA employees are engaged in their jobs, while more than half are not engaged and 35 percent are actively disengaged. However, these figures are more promising in the Gulf Countries, with more than a quarter of employees in Qatar and the UAE reporting that they are engaged in their jobs and fewer than 15 percent reporting that they are actively disengaged. As GCC countries have evolved into business hubs, with their bustling metropolises and ever-expanding enterprise, the companies that flourish are those who understand that at the core of sustainable business growth are employees that are fulfilled and engaged, and by extension, invested in their jobs.

Employee happiness has a direct impact on workplace productivity. In 2015, a study by the University of Warwick found that high employee satisfaction increased productivity by 12 percent — and last year, a Bayt.com ‘Employee Loyalty in the Middle East and North Africa’ poll found that according to MENA professionals, the top three benefits of employee loyalty are higher efficiency and productivity, stronger team relationships, and employee satisfaction. The statistics don’t lie: employees themselves recognize the importance of high workplace morale in a company’s success. In turn, prosperous companies dedicate the time and resources needed to keep employees engaged, happy, and fulfilled in their work.

Once you get beyond the balloons, smiley faces and hype and dig deeper into the happiness agenda, you will find there are elements that can help improve employee wellbeing.

The fact this is also good for business, however, should be secondary. We should aim to improve wellbeing because it is the right thing to do, not simply because it might increase productivity and creativity.

If you have worked in enough different organisations, you will probably know from experience that there is such a thing as a toxic work environment. You might even have had the displeasure of working for a toxic boss. In such environments, people can become stressed and burnt out; some might even develop physical or mental health problems.

Adding smiley face iconography and a happiness lounge into such an environment will do little to counteract them. Even introducing a mindfulness programme is questionable. It might help a bit but it is not the solution.

In cases where bad management is the cause of stress, it seems cruel and unusual to then insist that employees take a stress management course. Further, by investing in workplace happiness, du doesn’t only support our own strength and success — we also support Dubai’s Happiness Agenda, an extension of the Smart City vision which aims to make Dubai the happiest city on earth. Among other objectives of the Happiness Agenda, it aims to guide business leadership to consider the impact of happiness on their companies as key players in Dubai’s social and economic sustainability.

Happiness is often perceived as an obscure and elusive property; but the Happiness Agenda works to develop a shared understanding of it by building a unified definition of happiness to help guide strategic actions in Dubai that promote happiness.

The writer is professor of psychology

at Zayed University

 

Comments

More Op-ed stories
Mahathir Mohammad and Malaysia’s future At the age of 92, Mahathir Mohammad once again assumed the responsibility of Prime Minister of Malaysia and it is a matter to rejoice for us septuagenarian in this region who read History and observed…

Copyright © All right reserved.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Disclaimer & Privacy Policy
....................................................
About Us
....................................................
Contact Us
....................................................
Advertisement
....................................................
Subscription

Powered by : Frog Hosting