The health-happiness connection - Oprah

Photo via Celestine Chua, Flickr

Happiness makes people healthier. We all know that healthy workers are more productive, have lower absenteeism, are more present when they’re at work, and cost you less in health care insurance. And let’s face it, a happy workplace is just more pleasant. Let’s take a closer look at this powerful health-happiness connection.

Understanding The Health-Happiness Connection:
lower health care costs

At Business Insider, science reporter Jessica Orwig posted “These are the surprising ways that happiness is linked to health.” She writes:

“Science indicates that people who are optimistic may have a better chance of avoiding illnesses like diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and depression.

Studies say companies pay 41% less in health care costs for happy, healthy employees.”

A Sense of Purpose Drives business success

At UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center notes, Twitter fosters a culture of happiness, founded on finding purpose in the workplace. In “Can Higher Purpose Help Your Team Survive and Thrive?” Brad Wolfe, sultan of content strategy at Delivering Happinesstalked with Niki Lustig, leader of Twitter’s learning and organizational development team.

Wolfe cites a study published last year in Psychological Science, which suggests that having a sense of purpose can add years to your life. He observes:

“This raises an interesting question: if employees feel that their work has purpose, might that add years to the life of their organization?

Given that the life expectancy of organizations has precipitously declined over the past 20 years, this question isn’t just an academic one. In fact, more than 50% of new businesses in the United States now close their doors within four years. Employers need to find effective ways to help their organizations survive and for their employees to thrive in their roles at work.”

This is where purpose comes in, he posits. It leads to a happier workplace.

“Simply put, having a sense of purpose in your job means that you feel that your work makes positive contributions to the world, beyond earning yourself a paycheck or improving your company’s bottom line—you feel a commitment to something bigger than yourself.”

better financial performance

It’s not just longevity. Evidence ties purpose to organizations’ positive financial performance, Wolfe reports.

Deloitte’s 2013 Core Beliefs and Culture Survey reveals that 91% of respondents who believe that their company has a strong sense of purpose also say their company has a history of strong financial performance. By contrast, among those who report that their company doesn’t have a strong purpose, only 66% say it has a history of financial health.”

Happy teams, happy organization

the health-happiness connection at work

Photo via Lars Plougmann, Flickr

In Wolfe’s talk with Lustig, she says a sense of purpose is crucial for Twitter as a whole, and also for its individual teams.

In a study by Olivia Kyriakidou and Lynne Millward of the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, the researchers measured the level of commitment employees feel to their organizations, writes Wolfe.

“The results suggest that what resonates for one group of employees may not resonate for another.

As a result, the authors conclude that management should not bolster employee commitment to an organization by ‘presenting employees with monolithic solutions.’ Indeed, it makes more sense to meet employees closer to where they are, by bolstering their identity around their own teams and divisions.”

Happiness starts with gratitude

And in her book What Makes You Happy? psychologist Fiona Robards notes:

“Many of us lead lives that are too rushed, too stressed and too focused on things that don’t really matter. Our lifestyles are making us physically and mentally unwell–they’re making us unhappier, not happier.”

She provides tips for happiness you can share with your employees:

  • Appreciate what’s already going well in your life
  • Discover those areas where you can create greater wellbeing and happiness
  • Draw on your strengths and values
  • Tap into your creativity
  • Create change in a way that suits your individual circumstances
  • Set out on a journey to sustainable, long-term wellbeing

In other words, be grateful, change what’s making you unhappy, and do more of what makes you happy.

Help your employees realize that just being grateful makes for a better work and home life. Carthage Buckley, a stress and performance coach with Coaching Positive Performance, lists the “Top 11 Ways that gratitude enhances your life.” He writes:

“People are always saying that they want more of the good things in life but before they get more, they usually need to start showing appreciation and gratitude for the good things that they already have.”

When you do:

  1. You’ll be more enthusiastic
  2. You’ll feel more determined to achieve your goals
  3. Your level of optimism will soar
  4. Energy levels increase
  5. You’ll pay more attention
  6. Levels of stress drop
  7. You’ll feel more content with life
  8. You’ll exercise more
  9. Providing aid to others will come easier to you
  10. Others are more willing to help you
  11. You’ll discover the life you truly want

Buckley concludes:

“The realistic perspective that comes with practicing gratitude allows you to make effective decisions about your life, based on accurate information. When you do, you’ll live a more fulfilling life.”

Sounds like a recipe for workplace happiness and health, doesn’t it?

For a comprehensive guide to growing a sustained workplace culture of gratitude, happiness and health, download our FREE eBook: Transform Your Workplace with Gratitude.
Download your FREE eBook "Transform Your Workplace with Gratitude"

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