The Happiness Quotient: Staying Positive at Work

I recently attended a conference on workplace mental health and heard an inspiring presentation titled “What makes us happy?” It seems that an individual’s happiness depends on three things: 50% of our happiness is genetic tendencies, 40% is attributed to intentional activity, and only 10% is related to circumstances. Each of us is born with pre-disposition for a certain level of happiness (genetics) and our personal experiences (circumstances) help shape our “happiness quotient.” I want to focus on the 40%, the intentional activity, and how we can create a happiness culture in the workplace.

“To create an optimal level of happiness in the workplace, we need focus on supporting the intentional activities that employees actually control.” Carly Telpner, Head of Canadian Marketing

It is well known that happy employees are more productive, more creative and are more helpful. We can’t alter someone’s genetics, and life circumstances can be fleeting. So if as employers we want to create an optimal level of happiness in the workplace, we need to focus on supporting the intentional activities that employees actually control.

There are proven strategies people can use to help them feel happier through intentional activity: expressing gratitude, cultivating optimism, avoiding over thinking and social comparison, practicing acts of kindness, nurturing relationships, increasing activities that truly engage and challenge people, and physical and mental fitness.

There are lots of ways to integrate these concepts into your workplace culture to help your employees reach greater happiness:

  • Give time and space for employees to foster positive habits such as gratitude journaling and meditation.
  • Run internal contests that inspire physical fitness.
  • Ask employees how you can help them become their best through meaningful personal goals.
  • Open up and support opportunities for people to give back to your community through volunteer work.
  • Run informal sessions that focus on the positive outcomes of the work they do and what you provide as their employer.
  • Train your managers so they know how to ensure that relationships are being nurtured among teams.
  • Invest in social opportunities that foster friendship among peers.
  • Take the time to celebrate and appreciate your employees’ achievements.

With mental health issues on the rise in Canada, it’s important to focus on creating a positive and supportive space at work. We all spend so much time at work; let’s make it a happy place.

Your turn: Use the comment box below to share your ideas about happiness at work.

2 thoughts on “The Happiness Quotient: Staying Positive at Work

  1. Marina Scassa June 24, 2016 - Reply

    We’ve recently implemented some very simple (low/no cost) health challenges that are getting people moving, creating chances for staff interaction, and letting us have some fun. It’s so simple, but the positive impact is worth it in multiples. When you have fun at work, the tough stuff here isn’t quite so bad. And if things are tough outside of work, perhaps it creates a bright spot for some relief.

  2. I couldn’t agree more! It doesn’t have to take a lot of money to create a positive work environment and engage employees with positive activities – just some creativity and a little time. The 40% of intentional activity I talk about has a lot to do with mindset. Create opportunities that give people a chance to laugh, smile and nourish themselves mentally and physically. It can make all the difference in your office environment.


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