Throughout my career, I've been astonished at the many benefits of happiness at work. When I was first trained as a consultant 25+ years ago, I was taught that happiness was not relevant -- that emotions have nothing to do with the workplace. Thankfully that old mentality is rapidly dying out now.
In fact, more and more research shows that happiness is actually important in the workplace. It helps people to be more creative, develop better relationships with colleagues, get sick less often, be more productive when it comes to goals and even be more optimistic in the face of adversity.
When it comes to creating a happier work culture, research has found that both optimism and pessimism are contagious. We've all been there: your colleague is complaining about her day, her deadlines, or even something that another coworker did. After a conversation like that, it's easy to find yourself preoccupied and in a slump as well, and suddenly the afternoon is shot. Even worse, you may take some of that negative energy back to your family and friends.
The solution is to spread happiness instead! I tell my clients to spread "positive gossip". Gossip is a human need and it cannot be stopped. But it can be redirected to spreading good things about each other. As the One Minute Manager describes it, "catch people doing things right", and then spread that information to others. This will make your colleagues happier and you more popular. A Gallup poll showed that people have higher engagement in workplaces where they have real friends.
For leaders, research shows that this is the single easiest way to increase performance. People who feel appreciated will often work even harder. Show people you care about them and most will care for you. Plus, they'll feel more loyal to you and to the company. Spreading happiness builds rapport so that when things get stressful you have those relationships to rely upon. It's far easier to build trust in advance than to repair it later.
Think about some of your favorite coworkers. Are they negative and constantly complaining about issues? It's more likely that your favorite people to engage with while working are happy ones, whose positive energy rubs off on nearly everyone they encounter. Why not spend some time each day spreading happiness yourself? A genuine smile is worth its weight in gold. Work hard, care a lot and be a smile spreader.
Experiment with a little positive gossip this week!