If you’re happy and you know it, go to work

Corinna Lines | June 12, 2018

Image, Scrabble tiles spelling out HAPPINESS.

What is your happiness score? Image by Nick Youngson / CC BY-SA 3.0

In case you missed it, the first volume of the Global Happiness Policy Report 2018 was presented at the World Government Summit in Dubai, in February 2018.

So who wrote it? The Global Happiness Council, that’s who. They considered health, education, employment, well-being at work, social well-being, and ‘happy cities’.

‘Happiness’ is a merry catch-phrase for the broader concept of well-being, which has gradually become something employers are asked to consider in setting their employment policies and practices.

Image, Doughnuts on a plate.

What to serve with a Global Happiness Report. Image by World’s Direction / Public domain

Happiness in your government?

Still in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates published the first national Happiness Policy Manual in October 2017. Who launched it? The UAE’s Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing, who was appointed in 2016 as part of a move to provide more than just basic services for its citizens.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘well-being’ (with a hyphen) as ‘The state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy’. I don’t think anyone would disagree with this as an ideal — but how could you ever ensure well-being at work?

Happiness in your workplace?

Employers may well wonder how they’re supposed to make sure their workers are happy. Well, if we think of it in terms of well-being, then we start to see some opportunities — perhaps limits on working hours, or on checking work email after you’ve finished your work day. Perhaps a generous approach to parental leave, which includes time to care for ageing parents or a sick friend, as well as caring for children. One of the chapters in the report deals with mental health, which obviously crosses over from home to work. Another talks about ‘happy cities’, which means they want our cities to be positive environments that people can enjoy.

Perhaps you have (or are) a lovely, considerate employer already. Or perhaps you work somewhere with serious stress levels, like a hospital, call centre, or air traffic control. Can you think of some ways you could improve your work environment to safeguard your own well-being, or that of your staff?

The Chief Happiness Officer Blog lists some steps employers can take, including the concept of ‘psychological safety’ at work.

Although compulsory happiness sounds slightly terrifying, reading about practices in other countries is actually fascinating. Paraphrasing our (New Zealand’s) Prime Minister in her election campaign last year, ‘Kindness doesn’t have to stand in the way of progress’. Food for thought!

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