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Is happiness at work really a myth or can it really be achieved? Is happiness at work overrated or should entrepreneurs and business leaders be paying more attention to it?

Many companies today spend several resources on creating environments that facilitate happiness. Google, Zappos and several startups have built their employer brand around the notion that their employees are happy. Does that mean that they’ve managed to enhance productivity and increase retention and customer satisfaction?

Research conducted by University of Warwick found that happy people are 12% more productive. And in his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Anchor concluded that happiness at work contributes to 31% higher productivity, 37% increase in sales and 19% improved accuracy in tasks performed. I’d say, those numbers are worth the effort to make your employees happier.

What Does Happiness At Work Mean?

To understand what happiness at work is probably the best way to go about it is to first understand what it really means to your employees and to your organization.

There’s been several research suggesting that creating a happy work environment isn’t simple nor is it that obvious. It’s beyond providing perks that your competitors don’t offer. And while having perks like a good pay, excellent cafeteria, gym facilities and even medical services may appear pleasing on paper, they really only provide organizations with the ability to attract talent, not retain or make them happier – and not enhance their productivity.

Similarly, salary isn’t a factor that contributes to happiness either. In fact, it can be counterintuitive especially if individuals feel they are being paid less for similar roles. A study conducted by Princeton validates this notion and found that while highly paid individuals were satisfied, they weren’t any happier.

It’s not designation as well that keeps people happier at work. Sure a fancy, flashy and snazzy designation makes you feel proud for a while, but it can’t keep you happy in the long term. Plus, if it were designations that did the trick, you’d have organizations handing out new designations each year to their employees – something that isn’t practical and only adds to confusion.

So if it’s not salary, benefits, perks or designations then what is it that makes people happier at work?

Is Happiness Challenging?

In essence to really bring happiness at work you need high levels of engagement. Engaged individuals are more passionate about what they do and who they’re doing it for and why. Passion drives individuals to achieve more. Basically it encourages individuals to focus on results. The strive and struggle to achieve something that people are passionate about leads to higher levels of happiness at work. And that’s because when they achieve the results they feel elated and accomplished. The feeling is beyond monetary rewards and simple recognition. It’s a satisfaction that’s unparalleled. It’s the happiness that comes from self-belief and capability. It’s pride in your work.

But it’s not just about the individuals and their own achievements. The relationships they build, nurture and value along their journey also plays a vital role in their happiness. These are the team members who facilitate their achievements, support them and travel with them on their journey to be more successful. These are the individuals who share similar dreams and aspirations. These are the team members who make the work environment pleasant and worth coming back to.

Happiness at work can be challenging, but it’s by far a myth or impossible to achieve. It’s lighter on the budget than high salaries and expensive benefits. And when you think about it, it’s as simple as empowering, engaging and enriching your employee’s roles so that they are aligned with and contributing towards your organization’s purpose. In a simple equation, happiness at work is equal to more meaningful and fulfilling work.