Improving employee morale

Happy employees are productive employees

Employee morale
Happy employees improves productivity
People who are happiest at work are 47% more productive than their least happy colleagues, and those who are happiest at work take only 1.5 days off sick a year.

Can you develop the ability to change your mind-set and be happy at work and home?  
Dr Martin Seligman, the Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, believes that you can. His ‘happiness formula’ assists individuals to learn how to obtain an optimistic outlook inside and outside the office. He defines a happy life as one filled with positive feelings and activities, and believes that the degree to which you experience these feelings matches your level of enduring happiness. 

Within the workplace there are numerous benefits to having an optimistic mind-set and choosing to be a happy individual. According to Dr. Seligman’s studies, optimistic individuals, unlike pessimists, tend to believe that defeat is just a temporary setback and that its causes are confined to that particular case. When optimistic individuals are confronted by a bad situation they perceive it as a challenge and try harder. It is this very attitude that places optimists a few steps ahead of pessimists. Seligman indicates that optimists recover faster and are able to act again sooner, due to the way they explain a failure to themselves.

Anyone may experience failure or even rejection in the workplace, however Dr Seligman claims that you can still be happy regardless of this. He indicates that optimists have a beneficial outlook as it allows them to be proactive and productive in the face of failure, and to lead, inspire and encourage others, thereby preserving their happiness. 

According to Jessica Pryce-Jones, CEO of the iOpener Institute, there are five factors that make up the structure of happiness at work:
Contribution – is about the effort you make and your perception of it
Conviction – is about the motivation you have whatever your circumstances
Culture – is about how well you feel you fit at work
Commitment – is about the extent to which you are engaged with your work
Confidence – is about the sense of belief you have in yourself and your job

Pryce-Jones explains that when you have achieved these, pride, trust and recognition will result. “Pride and Trust in your organisation work hand-in-hand. That means if you’re proud of where you work, you’ll also trust your workplace and its leaders. And vice versa. In summary, Pride and Trust are what you have in your workplace; Recognition is what you get back from it. Finally, lying at the heart of all of this is achieving your potential. If that’s what you think you’re doing, you’ll be happy at work.”

Dr Seligman believes that one can learn to be optimistic and get high off the good moments, as well as experience the highs of low moments. This can be learned by exercising the ‘ABCDE of optimism’; the process of adversity, belief, consequence, disputation and energisation.
Adversity – recognise when adversity hits. For pessimists, even successes can be a form of adversity, as they may believe that it won’t last or they were just lucky.
Beliefs – be aware of what you believe about the adversity you are facing. Are you being irrational or self-defeatist?
Consequences – what will the consequences of your actions/feelings/behaviours be?
Disputation – is what you believe the only possible explanation? What evidence is there for this? What are the other possible explanations? What are the implications of my believing this way? How useful are my beliefs and would I benefit more if I changed them?
Energisation – be aware of new consequences that could arise from a more optimistic explanation or set of beliefs.

Ultimately, well-being and happiness is a choice. Viewing obstacles and unpleasant experiences negatively can very easily take away our happiness - if we let them.

Dr Martin Seligman will be in South Africa for a one-day programme on ‘Happiness in the Workplace’ on the 25th October 2012. 

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Issue 82


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