The happy secret to better workplace performance

I came across this fantastic TED talk last week by Shawn Achor, psychologist & CEO of Good Think Inc.

It was so good I just had to share.

Ultimately nothing of what Shawn has to say is particularly groundbreaking or revolutionary. It is great common sense but presented in such a way that it is very compelling.

It really spoke to me and resonated with a lot of my personal experiences in the workplace.

At the core of Shawn’s message is this little statistic:

75% of job success is predicted by:

  • optimism levels
  • social support
  • ability to see stress as a challenge rather than a threat

Shawn explains that underlining this is the key to understanding the science of happiness.

The fact that 90% of longterm happiness is predicted not by external factors such as status levels, job titles, material wealth – external measures of success…but by the way the brain processes the world.

Shawn summarises our entrenched formula for success:

If I work harder I’ll be more successful.

If I’m more successful then I’ll be happier.

This formula is the basis for most of our parenting styles, management styles & the way we look to motivate people.

What’s wrong with this formula is that every time we achieve success we move the goal post to an even bigger target.

If happiness is on the opposite side of success your brain never gets there

What we need to do is reverse this formula.

The reality of course is so obvious. Our brains work in the opposite order.

The happier our mindset in the present – the more likely we are to achieve success.

As a society and particularly in our workplace cultures we are constantly viewing success as something to be attained over the horizon.

From my experience working in Marketing & Sales that’s something I can very much relate to. There’s always a new sales target to chase.

The implications for the way we manage people in the workplace are stark:

If you can raise an employee’s level of happiness in the present – their brain experiences what Shawn calls “the happiness advantage”.

The brain at positive performs better than at negative, neutral or stressed.

  • Intelligence rises
  • Creativity rises
  • Energy levels rise
  • 37% better at sales
  • 31% more productive
  • If you’re a doctor you’re likely to be 19% more accurate with any given diagnosis

All this is common sense but I ask is it common practice?

What is your company doing to proactively measure the happiness of employees?

How is it encouraging their positive mindset in the present?

How are you ensuring your employees and your business are harnessing the happiness advantage?

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