In Pursuit of Happiness…

At a time when it’s hard to find any good news when you turn on the TV – Brexit, floods, climate change and more – it’s reassuring to see that finding happiness and joy at work seems to be having something of a ‘moment’. The positive psychology movement spearheaded by Martin Seligman in the 1990’s was the first real attempt to popularise the notion that by focussing on the things that make people happy, and doing more of them.

I now see the Institute of Leadership and Management is featuring a series of articles and research into why building happiness at work leads to higher levels of productivity, greater well-being and less stress.  A recent study by the Hay group reveals that happier mindsets are linked to a 43% rise in productivity. Stanford Graduate School of Business identifies 4 things that contribute to happiness at work:

  • Higher Purpose – people want to feel a part of something bigger, and that shared goals matter
  • Autonomy – people want to feel trusted and in control of their work
  • Meaningful relationships
  • A positive impact – people are happier when they see they make a positive difference, which leads to a sense of being valued

In addition, a company called Interspecs has been awarded the UK’s Happiest Workplace accolade in a competition led by Wylde IA. They seem to have achieved this by genuinely liking each other, spending social time together as well as at work, and creating a creative, collaborative and kind place to work. They have achieved this whilst going through a major global expansion. It’s not rocket science, but so many organisations get the basics wrong. In our work, we still see so many organisations where completing tasks comes first and people and positive relationships come a very poor second!

Positive psychology underpins all our work at the Edinburgh Coaching Academy. Believing that people are whole and are resourceful, and can find their own way forward rather than being in some way deficient, is core to our training and programmes. Often, without realising it, our own judgement gets in the way of good relationships, which is the fundamental of coaching – you can’t coach someone you don’t believe in or who doesn’t want to be there. And so we welcome this focus on increasing happiness at work, and hope more organisations start to look on this as a genuine way to engage their staff in the most positive way.