Tag Archives: happiness at work

By Senia Maymin, MBA, MAPP. Originally published on 10/26/07 on Positive Psychology News Daily, a 50+ author daily news site about the latest research and applications of positive psychology, offered in English, Spanish, and Chinese. Senia works with individuals, companies and universities to help them leveraging positive psychology tools.

What can Positive Psychology say about being happy at work? No, really, what can Positive Psychology definitively say about happiness at work? For example:

  • Are there some people for whom happiness at work is easier?
  • Are there actual ways to increase happiness at work?
  • What if you’re too busy at work working to have time to worry about employee satisfaction and “all this feel-good stuff”?
  • Have there been actual hard-data research studies about techniques that can improve happiness at work?

Being interviewed

Being interviewed

Yesterday, a few of us authors from PositivePsychologyNews.com answered these questions on the one-hour radio show, “Be Happy, Dammit” with host and best-selling author Karen Salmansohn. Here is a summary of the main research we cited and the main implementation steps we believe the research suggests. Below, you’ll also find links to the recording of yesterday’s program.

What Does Research Show about Work and Happiness?

  • To improve team performance, at work say at least 3 positive comments for each negative comment. Margaret Greenberg, President of The Greenberg Group, an organizational effectiveness consulting and coaching practice, started us off with data on positive emotions at work. Greenberg related 1) Barbara Fredrickson’s theory of Broaden-and-Build: the broadening of scope, attention, and creativity, and the building of psychological capital that occur with positive emotions, and discussed 2) the Losada ratio of approximately 3:1 positive to negative comments found in high-performing teams.
  • To improve operational results, say “thank you” and use gratitude. David J. Pollay (Syndicated columnist with the North Star Writers Group, and President of TheMomentumProject.com, an international training and consulting organization) brought two studies about the results of gratitude – in restaurant tipping and in caregiver visits. Pollay described that researchers had found that waiters who write “Thank you” on the check receive a 11% higher tip than waiters who don’t. (Editor’s note: For more information on research about how to improve tips for waiters, you can read this thorough guide by Michael Lynn summarizing his research with Kirby Mynier – Mega Tips: Scientifically Tested Techniques to Increase Your Tips (pdf)) In another study, when case managers received thank-you notes, there was a 100% increase in repeat visits made by the case managers.
To hear each guest as he and she comes on the air, and to hear Margaret and David’s answer in detail, click here: Part 1 of the Interview.

  • To improve corporate strategical planning, emphasize the following three related components – the desire to move forward, the goal, and the pathways to get from the desire to the goal. Doug Turner (Vice President of HR for the Washington, DC division of Balfour Beatty Construction company) described these three components of Hope Theory. Turner further said that to improve individual planning, it’s the same process of implementing this framework of desire, goals, and pathway. Turner described why this research on hope theory was core to his beliefs about how to move a company forward, “Turnover in an organization really occurs because people lose hope.”
  • To become more productive, structure more self-discipline into some part of your work. I spoke about recent research in self-regulation, and how a long time ago, people didn’t even know whether self-regulation could be trained and increased, not to mention didn’t know that self-regulation works like a muscle. New research described by Roy Baumeister of Florida State University suggests that when a person grows self-regulation in one part of life, iot tends to seeps into other parts of life as well.
To hear Doug and Senia’s answers, and then to hear Margaret and Doug speak about how their business outlook has changes since learning positive psychology, click here: Part 2 of the Interview.

What Other Studies Did We Cite?

  • Strengths. I brought up how Gallup used strengths at Ann Taylor to create an additional nearly 5% in revenue if the results of the pilot study had been spread to the entire company.
  • Explanatory Style. Doug Turner cited explanatory style and self-talk, the stories that we tell ourselves, as one of his favorite concepts in Positive Psychology. Turner was especially encouraged by the idea that we can change our own self-talk.
  • See Work as a Calling. Margaret Greenberg spoke about Amy Wrzesniewski of Yale and her job-career-calling distinction, and Karen Salmansohn detailed how some of those jobs that were seen as a calling in the Wrzesnieski study were janitorial jobs, and may not have objectively been called a calling, so it really is in how people see things.
  • Loyalty is Dropping. A steady job and a decent salary are not keeping employees, especially the younger under-40 employees. David J. Pollay pointed out that Hudson Research Institute, Walker Information, and the Gallup Organization all point to the data that only about 25% of people are loyal to companies.
To hear David on business outlook, Senia on strengths, and Margaret and David on why companies should pay attention to these above reseach findings, click here: Part 3 of the Interview.
—-
Finally, to hear Margaret, David, Doug, and Senia on specific actions to take given the above results and to hear David speak about The Law of the Garbage Truck(TM), click here: Part 4 of the Interview.

Lime 114The above interview was conducted on LIME (Sirius radio channel 114). All four segments of the program:

Part 1 of the Interview
Part 2 of the Interview
Part 3 of the Interview
Part 4 of the Interview

—————

For some great suggestions on happiness at work and taking Positive Psychology to work, check out these past articles between May and now (for even earlier articles, look here):

  • Taking Positive Psychology to Work: The Role of Gratitude by Kathryn Britton (9-7-07)
  • Using strengths when you work by Kathryn Britton (8-7-07)
  • Taking Positive Psychology to Work: The Reframing Skill by Kathryn Britton (6-7-07)
  • Taking Positive Psychology to Work, Part 1: Positive Core and Strengths by Kathryn Britton (5-7-07)
  • Positive Internal Communications in Change Management by Sulynn (7-31-07)
  • Thoughts on Performance Reviews and Positive Psychology by Doug Turner (7-16-07)
  • Energize Your Business Planning by Margaret Greenberg (9-14-07)
  • Employee Recognition: How One Company Puts Their Money Where Their Mouth Is by Margaret Greenberg (7-14-07)
  • Positive Work Environments: How One Company is Putting Theory into Practice by Margaret Greenberg (6-14-07)
  • What Coaches Must Do, Know & Be by Margaret Greenberg (5-14-07)
  • Using Your Strengths in the Job Search by Senia Maymin (7-12-07)
  • How You Tell the Story of Your Life by Senia Maymin (5-25-07)
  • Do Leaders Need to Toughen Up? by Emma Judge (6-16-07)
  • Making Slow Decisions by Emma Judge (5-16-07)
  • “When traveling with children, if emergency oxygen masks deploy, put your mask on first.“ – FAA by Miriam Ufberg (6-29-07)
  • Image
    Interviewer courtesy of Waldo Jaquith

    Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth“, written by Ed Diener and Robert Biswas Diener, explains, in an accessible manner, many aspects of happiness and scientific research about subjective well-being, including:
    – happiness and health
    – happiness and social relationships
    – happiness at work
    – happiness and wealth
    – happiness and spirituality
    – happiness and its base line, including genetic factors

    These are some reviews about Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth as provided by Amazon.com:

    “Ed Diener [says], ‘Happiness is not a set of desirable life circumstances. It’s a way of traveling.’ Diener’s new book, written with his son, Robert Biswas-Diener, a life coach, offers guidance for those interested in taking a road trip. As the Dieners synthesize the latest research … they challenge the conventional party line on well-being.” (O Magazine)

    “Among the recent glut of books about happiness, this one shines out. Highly readable and entertaining, its authors are perhaps the pre-eminent researchers on the subject … The advice on how to gain an appropriate level of happiness is way ahead of that offered by most self-help books.” (New Scientist)

    “If you’re looking for one thoughtful, comprehensive book to help you understand the science of happiness better, this is exactly what you’re looking for. It’s also a good read, accessible, concise, and even funny, which isn’t true of all such books, and there’s a lot of information I hadn’t seen elsewhere.” (Happiness Project)

    “Happiness challenges the present thinking of the causes and consequences of happiness and redefines our modern notions of happiness. It shares the results of three decades of research on happiness, and covers the most important advances in our understanding of happiness.” (Adolescence, April 2009)

    “Happiness is a process, not a place. That’s one of the key concepts that leaps from Happiness: Unlocking The Mysteries Of Psychological Wealth by Ed Diener and Robert Biswas- Diener.” (Diana’s Blog: Quirky Words and Book)

    “Happiness challenges the present thinking af the causes and consequences of happiness and redefines our modern notions of happiness. It shares the results of three decades of research on happiness, and covers the most important advances in our understanding of happiness. It also offers readers access to the world’s leading experts on happiness, and provides ‘real world’ examples that will resonate with general readers as well as scholars.” (Family Therapy)

    “In their sweeping new book Diener and his son, Robert Biswas-Diener, distill the results of worldwide research into happiness and come up with an explanation, a recipe, for a sustained state of good feeling, psychological wealth, as they call it.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 2008)

    “The authors write in a that is clear and accessible to a general audience; furthermore, they frequently infuse humor into their work. I certainly respect Diener and Biswas-Diener as well as admire the amount effort they have each put into their life’s work.” (Metapsychology, November 2008)

    “Pioneering researchers Professor Ed and his son Robert Biswas-Diener explain … why most things we’ve been told are wrong.” (Psychologies, November 2008)

    “This book is absolutely a delight to read. [The authors] have made the science very accessible and practical. You will love the stories they weave into the text. The Dieners take us along on their adventures around the world. We tag along as they unlock the mysteries of happiness. As you read the book you come to understand why Diener is known as the ‘Jedi Master of Happiness’ and why Biswas-Diener has been called the ‘Indiana Jones of Psychology.’ Get the book, settle into a comfortable chair, buckle your seatbelt, and enjoy the ride.” (Positive Psychology News Daily)