Hello PPMA members and friends

Here’s another great ‘Happiness” instalment from Lisa Sibley, Employee Engagement Manager and PPMA Lead Officer for Well being, Job Creation and Worklessness, where we’re following her journey on the ‘Action for Happiness‘ course – we hope you enjoy the experience!

“Can we be happier at work….now there’s a good question……..what was your instant reaction to it? If I relate this to what I observe in the work place currently then I would say there is definitely scope for us to be happier at work and that it is within each and everyone’s gift – a choice if you will – to be or not to be happy. But it’s also true to say that there are many factors, influencers that without a doubt impact significantly our working lives and in so doing, impact our wellbeing. Since I took up my role at Essex on the employee engagement front I am regularly considering engagement in relation to being happy at work – simplistic it might be but in my book, if employees are happy then you can pretty much guarantee they are going to be engaged, productive and high performing.

So, let’s kick off with some factoids:-

  • Although success at work can obviously lead to people being happier as a result, research also shows that increasing happiness leads to greater success. Happier people tend to be more engaged, have fewer days off sick, demonstrate greater flexibility and creativity and respond better to difficult feedback. Happier doctors apparently even make faster and better diagnoses.
  • Anxiety and depression as well as taking a terrible toll on individuals themselves, also have a big cost for organisations. In the UK, around 40% of all sickness absence is estimated to be due to mental health problems with a total cost to employers of mental health issues among staff estimated to be £26 billion per annum
  • Relationships at work matter – people who say they have a best friend at work have been found to be seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.
  • How we relate to our line manager has a particularly big impact on our happiness at work. Poor management style is a major cause of stress and the number one driver of engagement at work is employees feeling that their line manager has a ‘sincere interest in their wellbeing’.

This week’s expert view was from Shawn Achor Shawn is an expert in happiness and human potential, an advocate of positive psychology and author of  The Happiness Advantage Shawn talked about how we need to reverse the formula for success and happiness, shift our mind-sets from thinking ‘If I work harder, I’ll be more successful and if I’m more successful I will be happy’ to focus on the positives that already exist in what we are doing. It is happiness that leads to success. Or in the words of Albert Schweitzer: ‘Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful’.

We need to put the positives back into the present and make our brains work more optimistically. This is music to my ears as I do tend to be an eternal optimist although my little voice of paranoia or eternal pessimists can sometimes dampen the positive vibes. So, in getting our brains to work more optimistically, what is it we can do? Try this daily, it works:-

  • 3 Gratitudes– what are you thankful for
  • Journaling– jot down a good thing that happens to you
  • Exercise– so many ways, no excuses
  • Meditation– keep practising
  • Random acts of kindness– do good, feel good

The research is evidencing loud and clear that positive psychology helps people and organisations move to higher levels of wellbeing and performance at work. So, just what are some practical things we could do to create happier workplaces? Based on Action for Happiness research, here are five ways to help increase both happiness and motivation at work:-

  • Trust people
  • Aim for daily progress
  • Be people focused
  • See the bigger purpose
  • Play to strengths

And I will finish with another apt quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:-

‘Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm’……Feeling enthusiastic about happiness at work? Let’s create a real revolution right here right now in the public sector – spread positive psychology at work and it will spread throughout our communities – increasing creativity, productivity and resilience.”

Engaging wishes, Lisa

Lisa Sibley,  Employee Engagement Manager, Essex County Council and PPMA Policy Lead for Well Being, Job Creation and Worklessness