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The seven key principles to employee happiness

09 December 2015 Liane McGowan, Happy Monday
Liane McGowan, founder of Happy Monday.

Liane McGowan, founder of Happy Monday.

Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person - not just an employee - are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.

That is according to Anne Mulcahy, former Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of Xerox. Part of being concerned about employees as holistic beings is recognising that emotional wellness and happiness are essential to workplace productivity, team cohesion and a working environment that inspires rather than draining staff.

Local happiness at work guru and founder of Happy Monday CC, Liane McGowan, believes that companies can contribute to their employees’ emotional wellbeing by following seven key principles. “The first key is to encourage laughter. The Action for Happiness campaign confirms that laughter has serious benefits. It energises us, releases happy endorphins, increases enthusiasm and impacts every part of us. In many ways it is the ultimate drug, with no harmful side-effects.”

Research has shown that creativity increases happiness by contributing to an upward spiral of positive emotions. “This is illustrated by the current trend for adult colouring pages designed to relax and destress. Whether you believe in this colouring trend or not, there is no doubt that expressing ourselves creatively is a release and contributes to mental health. This aligns well with the need for stress management, which is essential to happiness. Whether you manage your stress through creativity, exercise or an alternate hobby, conscious stress busting practices should be adopted.”

McGowan cites the third key as allowing for learning. “A happy mind is a challenged mind, a mind that faces obstacles and overcomes them, one that is constantly fed with information and plied with knowledge. Additionally, employees that are encouraged to learn by their employers often feel valued, with an understanding that their employers believe them to be an asset to invest in.”

Through the recognition of self and others true self-worth can be achieved, boosting confidence and emotional security. “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs dictates the need for self-esteem and self-respect. Employers can bolster employee self-esteem by demonstrating the recognition of their abilities, their strengths and their achievements. Similarly, happiness can be encouraged in the workplace when colleagues support each other and express gratitude for assistance while celebrating each other’s accomplishments. This lends itself to positive team work.”

The last key to employee happiness is embracing the concept of giving back. “According to ‘The Emotional Life’, altruism in all its forms, including kindness, generosity, compassion, volunteering, and donating money, has the potential to reward the giver as much or more than the recipient.”

The reality is that unhappy employees are unproductive, don’t work well with their colleagues (unless it’s to unite against the injustices of their employment) and will probably damage customer relations with a less than stellar attitude. Developing a happy workforce, that feels appreciated and valued, is the precursor to longevity and success.

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