A Guide for Leaders to Workplace Happiness

Given the many changes our society has experienced since the start of 2020, a lot of people are thinking about the future of work.

To me, that means thinking about how to make workplaces happier.

This is work I love to do: Help leaders build happier workplaces, with lower levels of conflict, great meetings, and a sense of purpose at work. 

Why do I focus on happiness at work?

I have never liked being the person who stresses out over work to the point where I lose sleep over it. (And I have absolutely been that person!)

If that's ever been you, you understand how essential having a reason to feel happier at work is to your whole life. 

The thing is, happiness at work is not just about individual actions or stress management. Research points to many ways leaders can help their employees to achieve a happier outlook related to work. It's not just engagement or purpose; it's not just finding ways to be nice to each other; it's not just managing conflict well....

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End Workplace Conflict with These 4 Steps

As a mediator, and a former community/political organizer, I’ve learned a lot about conflict. I founded Chantilly Mediation and Facilitation because Americans spend more time working than doing anything else - and we deserve to be happy at work. Conflict, while inevitable among humans, can be handled in ways that actually increase happiness.

There are four keys to building a happier workplace, and every one of them will help your employees deal with conflict more productively.

 
  • Curiosity

  • Kindness

  • Engagement

  • Shared Purpose

Curiosity

Your mindset is always a choice: When you can, choose curiosity. Someone at work is in your face, or didn’t do something they’re supposed to, or did do something they are not supposed to do. Instead of focusing on blame or disappointment or the person, start asking questions: Why did they behave that way? What might make them do that? What might they be thinking or feeling that would lead them to do or say...

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Kindness Is Awesome

Yesterday was World Kindness Day. Kindness at work is a key to building a happier workforce. What I love about this idea is that it is both intuitive AND supported by tons of research.

Kindness Builds High-Quality Connections 

Jane Dutton researches Positive Organizational Scholarship and cofounded the Center for Positive Organizations in 2002. She talks about high-quality connections on this podcast. A high-quality connection is a short-term interaction with someone that leaves you feeling positive and energized.

It’s those moments you share with a colleague (or whoever) that maybe you don’t know very well, but you exchange a look or share a few comments that leave you feeling that this is a kindred spirit – that this person gets it – that this person gets you.

Hopefully, you share moments like this with friends and loved ones; Dutton’s research focuses on the idea that we all can share these moments with people who are just acquaintances and that...

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Mediator Tips: Mitigate Conflict with Collaboration

I’m psyched to bring my Resolve Conflict Now training to BBG’s audience of HR professionals on September 18, 2019, in the comfort of their own offices - not BBG’s offices; this is a webinar anyone can join. It’s also free! Register here.

Part of the 101-level, one-hour webinar will focus on how to build a collaborative workforce. I sum it all up with four keys:

  • Curiosity

  • Kindness

  • Engagement

  • Shared purpose

Let’s take them, briefly, one by one.

Curiosity

Your mindset is always a choice: When you can, choose curiosity. Someone at work is in your face, or didn’t do something they’re supposed to, or did do something they are not supposed to do. Instead of focusing on blame or disappointment, choose to get curious - Why did they behave that way? What might be happening that’s motivating them to do that thing that’s completely awful, in your opinion? Why exactly do you think it is completely awful?

Have a conversation with...

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PERK Up Your Workplace

Updated 9/16/2021

Someone asked me recently what the key is to happiness at work. I follow the PERK formula: Purpose, Engagement, Resilience, and Kindness.

EDIT: I now have a 44-minute webinar that goes into more detail and provides 4 practical tips for everyday use for $40. Check it out!

 Purpose

Feeling happy at work requires knowing your purpose. Purpose has nothing to do with money. It’s not about a paycheck or profits. It’s knowing that what you do makes a difference in the world. Purpose is not necessarily about doing good; the difference may be about social status or power or something relatively insignificant - like - I make things people can store stuff in. Those who can easily connect their purpose to dearly-held personal values are even happier.

If you show up to work just for the paycheck, it’s not necessarily time to find a new job - spend some time thinking about your personal values, about everything you do in your job, and consider ways an...

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Happiness and Conflict at Work

Often when we are faced with a conflict, happiness is not what we feel. We may feel angry, frustrated, sad, disappointed, upset, furious, or other negative emotions, or some combination of many negative emotions. Perhaps the “best” emotion we experience in the midst of an argument is something along the lines of,

“Hah! I’m winning!”

…Well, that’s a kind of satisfaction, but it is probably not the same happy, contented feeling you get when you are laughing with loved ones, for example, or even while collaborating in a positive, team atmosphere at work, school, or while volunteering.

Yet conflict and happiness are not necessarily polar opposites.

Scientists have spent decades studying what happiness is, the effects of happiness and pro-social emotions and actions, and how we can have happier lives. According to researchers Emiliana Simon-Thomas and Dacher Keltner, what happiness looks like at work will include moments of laughter and joy,...

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