Does it matter if your employees are happy? Or that you, yourself, have a positive demeanor at work? Is it the employer’s job to keep their workers happy, or should employees develop resilience to everyday workplace struggles? It turns out, your obligation to be happy – and to facilitate the happiness of your team – could be directly affecting your company’s bottom line.

Your Obligation to Be Happy is Tied to Business Success

Employee happiness and positive attitudes is a fundamental source of your company’s competitive advantage and success. Your emotions – and the emotions of your team members – are closely connected to the way your clients receive your sales or services, and their attitudes toward your company. If you want to have a more successful, and profitable business, you have an obligation to be happy, and to take an interest in the happiness of your employees.

A happy employee is more likely to invest themselves in the success of your business. Most happy employees feel a strong obligation to work hard for their organization. As happiness decreases, more employees “check out” and are unwilling to do more than the bare minimum, a practice that made trends in recent years under the name “quiet quitting.” If you are indifferent to your employees’ emotions – or worse, are actively taking steps that make them unhappy – they will be less committed to your company and could even start to look for new employment opportunities.

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You are Responsible for Your Own Happiness

Every employee, employer, business owner, and indeed, every person, is responsible for their own happiness. No one can force you to be happy, and you can’t depend on anyone else to make you happy when you’re not. That’s why it is your obligation to be happy, and not your employer’s job to make you happy.

To meet this obligation, you need to increase the positive experiences in your life and shift your perception of what is happening around you. If you find yourself stuck in a period of unhappiness at work, ask yourself:

  • What new training or experience would improve your working conditions?
  • What are your personal and professional development goals?
  • What obstacles exist to being happy at work, and what steps can you take to remove them?
  • What can you do to improve your physical and mental well-being on and off the job?
  • What circumstances in your personal life are impacting your happiness at work?

If you haven’t taken the time to answer these questions for yourself, you may be denying yourself a happier, more meaningful work life.

Employers’ Influence on Worker Happiness

Employers play a significant role in employee happiness. A good employer can’t force employees to be happy, but the wrong leadership style or human resources decisions can create obstacles to employee happiness.

The choices you make as a supervisor can drastically improve or impair your workers’ well-being, productivity, and passion for their work. Everything from compensation to the physical aspects of the working environment can lift your workers up or make achieving happiness a struggle.

The key to addressing worker happiness is to listen. Your employees are telling you – or at least one another – what keeps them from being happy with their work. This might be:

  • Uncompetitive compensation
  • Inflexible work schedules
  • Inadequate personal time off (Are your employees coming to work sick?)
  • Uncomfortable workspaces (Be on the lookout for fans, sweaters, and people rubbing their necks or backs.)
  • Frustrating bottlenecks or workflow interruptions
  • Interpersonal conflicts
  • Feeling stagnated without opportunities for advancement
  • Inadequate training or familiarity with tools and processes

If you are ignoring employee complaints about hostile workplace environments, interpersonal disputes, or workflow issues, you may be making it harder for your employees to meet their obligation to be happy. This can lead to reduced employee engagement, and higher turnover.

Leaders’ Obligation to be Happy

Happiness is one area where you need to lead by example. A team leader’s or manager’s unhappiness can be infectious. Everyone’s decision making ability is affected by their emotions. They say misery loves company. If you are showing up unhappy, you will be less receptive to constructive criticism, and more likely to make choices that make life harder for your workers.

Instead, you should model making happiness a priority, and openly discussing your emotions at work. This will encourage your employees to be more open with you in return, so you can improve your workplace culture and employee happiness.

David Stanislaw is an organizational development specialist with over 30 years’ experience in resolving organizational dysfunction. Through business consulting and facilitation, David helps businesses and teams improve workplace culture. Contact us to meet with David to move toward high organizational functioning today.