Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Lesson 2: Topic 17 of 21

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Offered properly, gratitude and appreciation fulfill the two fundamental human needs that are prerequisites of being our best selves. The first is the need to feel capable and competent which is met when your gratitude is specific to the task at hand. The second is the need to feel socially valid and cared for which is met when your gratitude is focused on them as a human being, not connected to any business outcome or result.

Steve Foran

Michael Bush, Lord Richard Layard, Marcus Buckingham, and Shawn Achor are among a growing number of consultants who advocate for developing a happy workforce. Happiness is, of course, highly subjective, and you won’t be able to please everyone. But there are some enormous benefits to be reaped when you make this an emphasis! High morale employees are more productive, have longer tenure, and strive harder to increase customer and client satisfaction. They also have lower absenteeism and cost the company less in healthcare costs. Without a doubt, happiness impacts the bottom line. 

Statistical studies show that it takes almost three positive encounters (experience or comment) to counteract one negative one. In a group, dropping below this 3:1 ratio negatively impacts everyone’s performance. In settings where the ratio is 6:1 positive to negative interactions, teams produce their very best work. 

How do you maximize employees’ happiness? Expressing gratitude and appreciation for starters, as per Foran’s quote above and as has been mentioned elsewhere in the course. Another way is to give them stuff!

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Many years ago this author worked for a hospice whose territory covered much of northwest Missouri. Since the employees spent hours every day driving, the home office  had contracted with a local gas station for all employees to buy gas at a discounted rate. Such a benefit would probably be even more appreciated now! If that arrangement isn’t feasible, what about giving mass transit ride cards (assuming that’s available in your area) or gas station gift cards?