The workplace dynamic has changed dramatically over the years and can vary depending on the field. One thing that remains constant across all fields and time is the level of productivity of employees within an organization. As with parenting, many individuals have various ideas about what effective management is and how to boost productivity. One major consensus of professionals in business and organisational psychology is that a happy worker is, in most cases, a productive one. This emphasis of happiness in the workplace is still a work in progress but there is much evidence to support its methods.
In a 2011 issue of Leader to Leader, an article discusses Shawn Achor the CEO and founder of Good Think, Inc. and his efforts in researching what makes a happy work environment. Many people enter the workforce believing that in order to be happy, they must first be successful. However, Achor believes that it is actually the inverse (“Leader to Leader”, 2011). This suggests that many people might be chasing their tails in their current jobs by seeking the wrong results. This could explain why many who seek success over happiness in an effort to gain happiness cannot find it. According to Achor, “The greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy is a positive and engaged workforce.” He suggests that creating a sense of “rational optimism”, meaning seeing the good and the bad and building a healthy sense of optimism off of the whole picture will help a team overcome big challenges.
The author also stresses the importance of social support in the workplace. Achor makes a very poignant point in that “In an era of do–more–with–less, we need to stop lamenting how little social support we feel from managers, coworkers and friends, and start focusing our brain’s resources upon how we can increase the amount of social support we provide to the people in our lives. The greatest predictor of success and happiness at work is social support. And the greatest way to increase social support is to provide it to others.” It is almost as common sense as the golden rule and yet a commonly overlooked simple technique to create a more supportive work environment.
These beliefs play into the concept of social/organisational factors that affect job satisfaction. Per the textbook, “employees develop their levels of job satisfaction based on the information available to them, including the immediate social environment,” (Schneider, et. al., 2012). Fostering an optimistic and socially supportive work environment can aid in reducing turnover and increasing overall employee retention rates.
The importance of happiness in the workplace. (2011). Leader to Leader, 2012(63), 62-63. doi:10.1002/ltl.20012
Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., & Coutts, L. M. (2017). Applied social psychology: understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles: SAGE.