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Sep 19, 2022

Work – sadly – is not a happy place right now.

Even with a cost of living crisis, recent research has revealed 36% of employees would give up $5,000 a year in salary to be happier at work.

This is a shocking statistic, because research also reveals that having happy staff makes good business sense.

Happy salespeople make 37% greater sales; people who report being happy at work take 10 times fewer sick days [and have 50% fewer workplace accidents], while happy employees are also between 12-20% more productive according to data from the Happiness Business School.

So, with this week (19–25 September), marking International Happiness at Work Week, TLNT thought it would be good to ask happiness expert Chris Griffiths, author of The Creativity Handbook, how organizations can put renewed emphasis on helping their staff stay happy and engaged. Below he shares his tips:

Create meaningful motivation:

Chris says: “Globally only 21% of employees are engaged at work. Leaders often try to rectify this with pep talks, social events and away days. But these methods are old fashioned, have little impact, and are often viewed by employees as a waste of their time. What’s actually needed is for employers to create ‘meaningful motivation’. This is where leaders need to take a more strategic approach to empowering long term motivation by giving people more autonomy. Micromanagement is a style of the past. Individuals feel motivated when they feel valued, trusted and are given the freedom to make decisions, solve problems and be part of the creative processes happening within the company. But creating the correct working environment, regardless of whether someone is working remotely or in the office, has to come enthusiastically from the top. Giving more autonomy requires setting up supportive systems that allow people to flourish.”

So how can both these things be achieved?

Here are his top tips to empower long term meaningful motivation:

Become a positive space

Positivity is contagious. Be a source of positive energy. Avoid pessimistic thinking and see the good in everything – even bad situations or solutions. Communicate in ways that lift people up and help them overcome feelings of self-doubt. Seek out positives everywhere! Don’t fall into the trap of only being positive when something good or momentous happens; it’s easier to maintain a positive attitude on an ongoing basis than it is to regain it once you’ve succumbed to negativity. Drive this mentality throughout your organization.

Allow mistakes

Fear causes us to shy away from the unknown and hold back from taking chances in case we fail. It feeds the status quo, and drains enthusiasm. Of course, no one likes to make mistakes, but if your team makes mistakes, reflect on them as a form of learning – heed the lesson, change the direction and move on. An organization that understands that success and failure are not polar opposites, but are simply both parts of the innovation process, will encourage their people to not fear change.

Avoid ‘busy is the new stupid’ syndrome

From a psychological standpoint, this occurs because the brain attempts to ‘simulate’ productive work by avoiding heavy projects and tackling lots of menial, low-value tasks instead. This does not lead to rewarding work. People feel more motivated when they are given time to be creative, solve problems, and are given the freedom to make their own decisions. A lack of motivation often comes from fatigue or feeling mentally drained from persistent concentration or repetition. By insisting people take short breaks, you ensure motivation levels are topped up at regular intervals throughout the day. Get them to book out ‘thinking time’ in their calendars so they treat it as they would any other important activity. This builds mental resilience.

Expect people to succeed

One of the most powerful gifts you can share with someone is to show you believe in their potential. This is a powerful driver that will help them accomplish more. Even when a member of your team fails to achieve what they set out to do, don’t wallow with them. Give them encouragement instead so that they feel energized to tackle the next challenge: ‘Never mind. I know you’ll do better next time.’

Focus on strengths

Focus on what you and others do well and build from there. Commit to professional development. The journey to mastery brings confidence and a growing capability to succeed. Reinforce confidence by being on the lookout for victories and celebrate them with your team along the way – no matter how small. In performance coaching sessions focus more on making strengths stronger than on development needs of weaker areas. People feel good about their strengths and are motivated when given space to build on them. By constantly fueling the growth of your team, you’ll be hardwiring the organization to be more innovative, positive, motivated and engaged.

Provide time to reflect

Research shows that taking time to reflect on our work leads to better performance. It gives people an opportunity to pause and mentally sift through the day’s experiences. It’s important to monitor and reflect on the progress of your solution every so often. This provides a cumulative effect that builds confidence in people’s ability to conquer a goal, making it more likely that the solution will be executed successfully. In a Harvard Business School field study, workers spending 15 minutes per day taking time to reflect had a 22.8% higher performance than those who did not.

Engage in continuous innovation

Despite its importance, many companies and individuals spend remarkably little time thinking and talking about creativity (at least the less-successful ones). Much is known about creativity and it is clear that people and teams can learn to be more creative. Thinking about creativity in the correct way, and learning new ways of approaching problem solving, has real and positive impacts on the person and on the level of creativity that results. More importantly, it is one of the most powerful ways of gaining engagement within your team. People feel valued when part of a creative process. However, be careful and don’t fall into the trap of thinking creativity is an event. Successful innovation requires adherence to a structured and continual process.