The Science of Happiness or “The Happiness Advantage”

Two of the most basic premises of life are being successful and being happy. Ask just about anyone you know what they want out of life, and it’s probably one or the other or a combination of the two. Most people assume that once they achieve success in the workplace (you could even apply that to school or something outside the office), they will finally “be happy.” Experts have found quite the opposite. It’s a common misconception that happiness follows success.

In fact, happiness can be a precursor to success. Yes, you read that right. Success often follows when we, as leaders, employees, CEOs, and even just as humans, focus on happiness first – not the other way around. This can be a serious mindset shift, but we’re going to touch on some of the theories behind the the “happiness advantage”, coined by Shawn Achor, psychologist, because we believe it can be a catalyst for success in your workplace and, ultimately, in your life.

While Projections and our partner, A Better Leader, ordinarily share video, web and online leadership training solutions that help you equip your leaders with the competency and expertise they need to connect with team members, we also strongly believe in stepping outside of the training/development box and giving business owners and employers tangible tips to positively impact their culture and increase their employee engagement. The premise of the “happiness advantage” is based on simple habits that you can implement (at no cost) to your workplace to have major positive results and change the way your employees think about their workplace and their lives.

What is The Happiness Advantage?

Shawn Achor, CEO of GoodThink and psychologist, refers to it “The Happiness Advantage.” He titled his book after the same premise and has given TEDTalks and presentations at corporations all over the country and at countries worldwide, explaining to CEOs and leaders alike how important it is to shift your focus to your employees’ (and your own) happiness and well-being to have financial and employee engagement successes at your company.

“Only 25 percent of job successes are predicted by IQ, 75 percent of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support, and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat.” – Shawn Achor

The Effects of Happiness in the Workplace

Studies have shown that essentially every aspect that can be measured in the workplace raises exponentially when you and your leaders implement “happiness” before “success.” For example, productivity rises 31% when moved from a “neutral” to a positive mindset. Additionally, sales increase by 37% across multiple industries. If your leaders/employees provide social support to their fellow team members at work – they are 40% more likely to achieve a promotion in the next two years. Employees have been proven to stay at their organizations even longer, increasing not only your employee engagement levels, since happy employees lead to happy customers, but your employee retention levels will increase as well.

It’s not a question of whether or not this would be beneficial to you as an employer — implement some simple strategies to help your leaders connect with their team members, and the organization as a whole will thrive.

Strategies to Implement at Work (or at Home!)

Straight from a Forbes interview with Shawn Achor himself, here are five strategies that you can implement to start seeing the effects of a more positive mindset, either at work or at home. Not only are these strategies to personally put into practice, but these are activities you can go over in weekly meetings, Zoom conferences, or one-on-ones with employees.

1. Bring gratitude to mind – Write down three NEW things that you are grateful for each day
2. Journal – About a positive experience you’ve had recently for 2 minutes once a day
3. Exercise – Engage in 15 minutes of mindful cardio activity
4. Meditate – Watch your breath go in and out for 2 minutes a day and
5. Engage in a random, conscious act of kindness – Write a 2-minute positive email thanking a friend or colleague or compliment someone you admire on social media

None of these are difficult or time-consuming, but as you read above, they can make a significant, long-lasting impact on your workplace and your bottom line. It’s important to simply take this information and run with it. In Shawn’s words, “Happiness is a choice, but leaders and companies can make that choice easier by providing education about how to raise positivity in the workplace, creating social engagements, authentically praising individuals.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, it doesn’t even seem like a question about whether or not you can implement these small strategies to make a significant impact on your business. Between the employee retention and engagement rates increasing, camaraderie in the workplace improving, and the overall impact on your bottom line, it would be silly not to try even a few of the tactics listed above to see how you can improve employee relations and the overall environment of your organization.

Our partners at A Better Leader has decades of experience helping employers and their leaders become more productive with the skills, tools, and knowledge they need. We have had success developing stronger leaders who connect with team members at all levels and improve workplace culture. In fact, we even asked Kelly Smith, a Training and Development Advisor from Autozone, who shared that “We have subscribed to the materials for more than five years. We love it. It is easy to use. The staff is great (friendly, patient, knowledgeable, open to feedback). In our culture of thrift, it is very affordable. THANK YOU for all that you do. You are awesome…a hidden gem. But word is getting out!” We’d love to be a resource for you as well — whether you need custom video, communication solutions, or leadership training!

About the Author Walter Orechwa

Walter is Projections’ CEO and the founder of UnionProof & A Better Leader. As the creator of Union Proof Certification, Walter provides expert advice, highly effective employee communication resources and ongoing learning opportunities for Human Resources and Labor Relations professionals.