Employee Happiness Begins with a Smile. (Photo via Flickr.com/rueful)

Typically when we look at ways to boost employee happiness, we take into account the results of expert research on hundreds, if not thousands, of workers. Today, in celebration of Public Service Recognition Week, let’s take a look at the happiness habits of just one inspiring public employee.
Miriam Haynes has been an administrative support technician at the Wilmington (North Carolina) Police Department for more than four decades and was featured this week in a Wilmington newspaper, the Port City Daily. She tells reporter Christina Haley she considers the department family and feels like a mom to the police officers, detectives and citizens who’ve come through her office over the years.
One of the best ways to inspire happiness at your workforce is to lead by example. Haynes is a great example of a happy employee who practices specific habits that keep her that way, even when working in the stressful environment of a criminal investigation unit at a police station.
1. Put People First
Haynes’ longevity with the police department wasn’t what she had in mind when she started in 1973. “I only wanted to stay here five years. Then I was going to go on and make me some money,” Haynes says. “But, here I am 40 years later. And I really don’t regret it…I really don’t regret having stayed. I like the people.”
Money may drive business, but it’s rarely why an employee chooses to leave or stay at a company. (Money is notably absent from Forbes’ “Six Reasons Your Best Employees Quit You.”)
2. Let Go of Anger
Fielding incoming calls for a police department means talking with a lot of upset people. Haynes reacts to this daily bombardment serenely and doesn’t let it ruffle her.
“Anger only hurts the one that’s angry,” she says. When there are differences, “I don’t hold things — I refuse to let anger control my life. And I live by that philosophy.”
3. Keep a Sense of Humor
Humor is a powerful antidote to stress. Haynes and her coworkers are quick to crack jokes and rib on each other, all in good fun. The head of the Criminal Investigation Division says, “You have to keep it lighthearted. You’ve got to have some sort of a sense of humor. […] That’s just a mechanism for all of us to stay sane around here.”
4.  Smile
Smiling is infectious — literally — and has the power to change your own attitude and the attitude of the people around you. Haynes makes smiling a habit.
“She’s our most tenured employee. And you’d never know,” the police chief says of Haynes. “She has just as much excitement as she did when she started. She’s always all smiles [and] she keeps everyone in line.”
5. Be Grateful
In addition to putting people first, happy people value others as intrinsic to their success and happiness. Says Haynes, “When you’ve you got a good group of people that work with you, and understand you — we don’t always agree, but we get along — it becomes like a family [and] I’ve enjoyed it.”
What else have you noticed about the happiest people in your workplace? What attitudes or actions are habitual in their daily lives?
For more on inspiring employee happiness, download our FREE Guide to Workplace Gratitude. Click the image below and start sharing your gratitude today!
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