4 Rare Workplace Habits of Exceptionally Happy Employees

4 Rare Workplace Habits of Exceptionally Happy Employees

By Marcel Schwantes

Happy workers are more productive workers.

Experts in the field of positive psychology call us to “train our brain” to adapt certain behaviours (think gratitude, for example) until they become ingrained as lifestyle habits, leading to more happiness.

In the modern workplace, getting you on the road to more happiness is easier said than done with so much stress and competing priorities. To those truly committed employees and their leaders, change is required. Here are four starting points to pave the way to more workplace happiness.

1. Have a generous mindset

Being generous and doing things for others naturally makes you feel happy. But now, studies have discovered that even thinking about doing something generous can boost your brain’s happiness levels. Brain scans of study participants who simply pledged to give money to a cause was enough to make them happier. Researchers found that the intent to be generous was linked to activity in the ventral striatum, an area important in the feeling of happiness. A study author said, “Promising to behave generously could be used as a strategy to reinforce the desired behaviour, on the one hand, and to feel happier, on the other. You don’t need to become a self-sacrificing martyr to feel happier. Just being a little more generous will suffice.”

2. Practice acts of kindness

One previous study published in the psychology journal Emotion found that both givers and receivers of acts of kindness in the workplace enjoyed positive benefits. The givers in the study enjoyed higher levels of life satisfaction and job satisfaction, and fewer depressive symptoms. This suggests that giving had a more durable effect than receiving. Receivers of kindness, however, didn’t just enjoy acts of kindness — they paid them forward. At the conclusion of the study, the receivers reported engaging in nearly three times more pro-social behaviours than the controls. This strongly suggests that workplace acts of kindness create virtuous cycles within teams, benefiting recipients and givers alike, but especially the organisation as a whole to produce good work. Start one random act of kindness, and watch it spread outwardly.

3. Practice forgiveness

Forgiveness is rarely discussed or practiced in a transactional work environment lacking connection and care. But workplace research found that forgiveness was “linked to increased productivity, decreased absenteeism (fewer days missing work), and fewer mental and physical health problems, such as sadness and headaches.” As Greater Good Science Center reports, if people we work with hold on to negative feelings after a conflict, and if they can’t cope by forgiving, you can expect the likelihood of disengagement, a lack of collaboration, and aggressive behaviour to follow. On the other hand, we learn and master this virtuous practice as an organisational value, forgiveness can be an effective way to restore trust and set things right with colleagues and bosses alike.

4. Seek healthy relationships

The research states that close, trusting and supportive relationships lead to strong collaboration and are critically important to people’s state of mind at work. In another study I’ve covered, supportive co-worker relationships are an important driver of a positive work experience. When those relationships are present in the workplace, employees report a much more positive employee experience than when that support is absent (77 percent compared to 35 percent). When you add it all together, research is debunking old myths that happiness and positive emotions don’t matter at work. Happiness is important. To be fully engaged, people need vision, meaning, purpose, and healthy relationships.

Marcel Schwantes is a contributing editor and founder at Inc.Australia

This article first appeared on the Inc. Australia website.

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