In Pursuit of Happiness

By: Pierre Morrisseau, CEO, OneGroup

As business leaders facing new and evolving workforce challenges, we must focus on what research has been telling us for many years: Happiness at work increases productivity, creativity, and superior problem-solving abilities. It is also a solution for the attraction and retention of talent, which remains a high priority as most companies are working hard to find, develop and keep their employees. Easier said than done.

Consider these research statistics from data compiler, Gitnux:
• Worldwide, just 13% of employees reported being engaged at work.
• In the U.S., only 38% of employees reported being engaged at work.
• 56% of employees in the US feel that their employer is or could be doing more to prioritize happiness.
• 63% of employees believe that companies should offer mental health benefits.
With so few employees feeling engaged in their work, there appears to be a disconnect between employers and their employees. Our own internal surveys bear this out. These statistics are at direct odds with employers’ goals for hiring and retaining employees let alone employee productivity.

Why happiness in the workplace matters:

• Companies with happy employees outperform competition by 20%.
• 67% of employees say they are more productive when they are happy at work.
• Employees are 48% more likely to give excellent customer service if they’re happy at work.
• 60% of employees are attracted and stay at a company due to a better work-life balance.
• A happy employee is 31% more productive than an unhappy one.
• Employees who feel valued are 15 times more likely to report job satisfaction.

These statistics show that when employees feel fulfilled and happy in their work, their productivity increases significantly as does that of those around them. This points to the fact that investing in employee happiness is beneficial to both the employee and employer. We are acutely aware of the need to dramatically increase employee engagement and have undertaken a number of small- and large-scale initiatives to improve individual wellbeing and happiness. I will share this one significant effort in the hopes it might aid you in your own strategies.

For the second year following the pandemic, we closed all offices from Massachusetts to Florida and invited all employees to join us at the Turning Stone for a major event we dubbed Day of Learning. Actually, it turned into two days filled with events, breakout sessions, sidebars with various experts in finance, management, health, wellbeing and more. The entire focus was to show employees that they are important to themselves and to OneGroup. We planned the event around personal growth, fulfillment and achieving happiness—seeing the positive vs. the negative. Our post event surveys indicate we are truly moving the needle in the right direction.

Many of the concepts came from a book our management team recently read called The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. His years of research into what happiness is and how one finds it is fascinating. At the heart of his work with humanity, the happiness formula is in reverse: that happiness leads to success and not the other way around. His research shows when you are happy, you see things in a positive light, you recognize opportunities and ultimately achieve greater success than those who are unhappy and negative. Achor posits societies instill a belief at an early age that happiness is your reward for success, but in fact, positive psychology research shows that happiness creates success.

We have taken this to heart at our company and although change is never easy, by focusing on happiness first, we are seeing steady improvement throughout the company as well as in our relationship with our clients.

Author Daniel Pink in his book Drive, explores motivation, a key element in achieving happiness. His message is that motivation today is acquired through autonomy, mastery and purpose—purpose over profit. He further recommends using a “now, that” method of rewarding vs. “if, then” (the historic carrot and stick process). He proposes approaching employees with: “Now that you’ve executed this work so well, you deserve a reward.”

There are many employee engagement ideas and processes for sure but the most important one is recognizing the importance of taking action—of beginning with achieving our own happiness in order to lead others.

As always, I am most interested in learning about what others are doing to solve business challenges. I would love to hear your thoughts.