The Five Keys to Happiness and Engagement at Work (Part Two)

Rose Bryant-Smith
May 23, 2018

In Part One of this blog post, we considered the experiences that commonly build feelings of pride, fulfilment and satisfaction at work, reflected on the impact of technology on communication and connection and discussed the importance of happiness and engagement to building and sustaining a productive, engaged and loyal workforce.

So, how do we achieve this?

The Five Keys to Happiness and Engagement

As we noted last week, seeking happiness as an outcome – for yourself and for others – is not particularly useful, because happiness is more commonly experienced in the journey.

To build happiness and engagement at work, we should create spaces for reflection, connection and activity, and cultivate skills which allow us to enjoy the good times and take the bad times in our stride.

Worklogic is all about building healthy, productive and ethical workplaces. Our extensive research and voracious reading in the field of workplace dynamics and culture have shown that there are five key elements to building happiness, engagement and satisfaction at work:

Key #1: Autonomy

“I have the autonomy to influence my own experience of today, to influence the culture of my team and the wider workplace. I will nudge it in the right direction!”

We all desire to be self-directed: to have some autonomy, control or influence over what we do and how we do it. People who have some autonomy over how they run their days, and are also competent and connected to others, become motivated, productive and happy.

The good news is that your mindset – which you can choose, to at least some extent – makes a big difference in how you experience each day.

Experiencing autonomy at work might seem like a challenge, when you work for someone else and are subject to rules and regulations. Many industries are highly regulated, where risks are controlled and personal discretion is limited.

How can you find a sense of ‘determining’ your own work?

The answer is in how you approach that task. A key choice is whether you will be passive, allowing things to happen to you and grumbling about them, or you will take an active approach to how you experience every day. Instead of blame, try curiosity. Try acceptance, instead of anger. Try kindness, instead of fear.

We can influence our own experience of what happens. There is always a choice about the way you approach your work, even if there is limited choice about the work itself.

Key #2: Mindfulness

“I stay present, calm and true to myself”

Each day, do you choose to be present? We don’t mean just ‘showing up’ at the workplace. Being present means being aware of what is going on in us and around us. Being centred and mindful.

When you are mindful, you focus your awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your own feelings. Being mindful lets you observe yourself and know yourself – to be aware of your immediate emotional reactions, to move beyond them, and to be much more effective.

Practicing mindfulness in your everyday interactions will increase your sense of calm, your appreciation of the things that matter, and enrich your work relationships.

Being mindful and present for your colleagues will let you have real conversations, make real impact and effect real change. It increases calm, increases appreciation of the things that matter, and enriches work relationships.

Key #3: Communication

“I welcome feedback as a learning opportunity; I am not afraid of conflict”

Research by the University of NSW and other leading international business schools recently found that there’s a high correlation in teams between high performance and communication abilities.

These teams can talk about challenges and opportunities, deal with conflict and disagree with respect. They welcome criticism and feedback as learning opportunities. Teams with these skills are more likely to be innovative and productive, and have happier customers!

This research is not really surprising. What these teams are doing is communicating honestly and bravely – respecting each other but not afraid to disagree and work together on problems, challenges and opportunities.

Organisations where employees are encouraged to have honest, deep communication and to disagree with each other, with respect, have been found to respond 5 x faster to financial downturns, and to be 65% less likely to have workplace injuries.

As well as business outcomes, good communication leads to better experiences for everyone at work. A fundamental human need is to relate to others and connect with them as people, not just as fellow achievers of tasks. Having a ‘friend’ at work is one of the top things people list as an essential factor to enjoying their job.

Encourage staff to be brave in what they talk about, and respectful in how they talk with each other. In quality, in-person conversations, they can hold each other accountable, and have more fun too.

Key #4: Purpose

“My own purpose is aligned with my organisation’s. I have integrity at work”

Whether you are an employee in a government department, a huge corporation or a small business, all of us have moments where we question what our contribution is, where we fit in and what impact we are having.

We all yearn to be part of something that is bigger than ourselves. People feel much more motivated to achieve something, together, when the purpose of their work is clear, and they believe in it.

Given that purpose can make us feel happier about our jobs, more connected to others and more proud of what we achieve, it’s worth taking a moment to connect with the purpose we find in our work. We can all be part of a team that is driven by a shared mission, and committed to doing high quality work of value that we find great satisfaction in. Nothing bonds a team like a shared purpose!

Key #5: Gratitude

“I notice and appreciate the good things”

Gratitude is not only about the ‘big’ things. It’s about saying thank you for helping out, and celebrating the little successes as well as the big wins. It’s about noticing other people and their contributions (there’s mindfulness popping up again…!). A gracious, grateful state of mind, plus a genuine expression of thanks, can make someone’s day.

Of course, gratitude – like happiness – can’t be mandated. We can’t tell our employees to be grateful to the employer or to their colleagues, as that could be counterproductive. But we can model that mindset to our colleagues, as it will make them happier and us happier too.

Train your leaders, Train your teams

Workplaces shouldn’t be cults. But employers can build these skills in employees, give them useful information and provide opportunities for self-reflection and relationship-building, and enable them to bring their best selves to every working day.

These skills can be built in teams through training in communication and team-building activities, as well as values projects. Leaders can use messaging which encourages self-reflection and helps them build an open mindset and enjoy the journey together.
Mooski illustration

We’re proud to announce that Worklogic’s new team-building program, delivered by smartphone, will be available soon. Mooski is a three-week program in which colleagues get to know each other better, and reflect as individuals on their traits, values, work relationships and strengths.
You can have sneak peek at Mooski here:

About Rose Bryant-Smith

Rose Bryant-SmithRose Bryant-Smith is the co-founder and director of Worklogic. She is passionate about building ethical, productive and innovative workplaces. Rose leads projects about organisational ethics, risk management, corporate governance and organisational performance.

*You can watch Rose’s webinar “Increasing Happiness and Engagement at Work” on-demand for free.

Please contact Rose for an obligation-free, confidential discussion on issues at your workplace.

For event invites and compelling insights into resolving workplace conflict and building a positive culture at work!

Integrity Line

Integrity Line is an independent whistleblower service for complaints about inappropriate conduct at work, provided by Worklogic. Click here to visit the Integrity Line website.