Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Very Special Mentor and Leader

I've long been supportive of the concept of mentoring and have participated in various mentoring programs in my career, both as a "mentee" when I was a new manager, and as a mentor, to help others.  In fact, I'm such a proponent that I'm currently helping to roll out a new program within my organization.

Recently, I have been participating myself in a mentoring relationship, partly to "Beta Test" the new program, but mostly because I was struggling with some things and I really wanted advice from a leader who I respected, Paul Clip.  I was hesitant to ask Paul to be my mentor for two reasons: 1) He is in my "chain of command"...not something that's recommended in a mentoring relationship and 2) He's super high-up in that chain which means he's very busy.  I really did not want to bother him with my problems when I know he has so much more on his mind.

A couple of weeks ago I started a new daily ritual where I thank someone each work day.  The thing is, I'm not a big fan of "token thank yous"...  The thank you's need to be sincere, and I feel a little worried about doing them every day, lest they become watered down.  The other issue with this particular thank you, is that thanking your boss's boss's boss publicly seems like a totally kiss up move...and "kissing up" is another thing I'm not a big fan of. But most people who know me (and probably all my bosses) realize I don't do the kiss up thing.  I speak my truth and sometimes that means I disagree with my bosses and sometimes that means I tell them when I think they're awesome.

But, as I wrote about on a different blog, sometimes Thank You doesn't seem enough, and you wish there were some "Uber-Thank You" word.   You want the recipient to know that their graciousness and generosity changed your life for the better, and because of them, you will be able to pay that forward.

How Paul helped me most with this mentoring was that he listened to me...  really listened.  And, like any good mentor or coach, most of the time he let ME figure out how to best take some control in resolving the issues I was having.  He provided a sounding board and sent me some links to relevant material, but he was always there with full attention, sometimes even going over our appointed times.  I'm amazed that Paul, in the very senior position that he's in, was able to take all the time he has to listen and be there for me.  He never once has acted as though I've been an imposition.

But besides making the time to be my mentor and to listen, the other thing that I respect so much about Paul is that he sees every person for the unique individuals they are, both personally and professionally.  I have no idea how he has the time to make every person feel special, but he does.

Thank you, Paul, for teaching me so much about leadership... not just from our mentoring sessions, but from your actions.

Lessons for those of you who want to participate in a mentoring program:

* You don't need to have a formal mentoring program in your workplace to get a mentor.
* Ask someone you respect to be your mentor.  Don't assume they won't have the time.  You have nothing to lose by asking.
* If you do ask for a mentor, set the agenda.  Don't expect the mentor to set the agenda or tell you what to do.  Be respectful of your mentor's time.
* Whether you are the mentee, the mentor, or not even participating in any kind of "program": Take time to really listen and understand the objectives of the relationship or issues that you're trying to resolve before you jump into solving the problem.
* Recognize that the mentee needs to reach their own conclusions and take control of solving their problems.  This is not something a mentor can do for them.
* Whether you participate as a mentor or a mentee, like anything, the more engaged you are, the more successful you will be.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Thank someone each day

I've been participating in the #100DaysOfHappiness project.  This project asks that we take a picture each day for 100 days of something that makes us happy.  I'm on day 36, but, admittedly, I have a harder time on work days because a lot of what makes me happy isn't something that one typically takes a picture of.  It makes me happy when I get an email that says, "Good job!" or when someone asks in a meeting, "Yvette, what do you think?" I'm happy when someone says, "Thank you, that really helped me!"  Short of taking photos of emails, it's really hard to capture the jolt of happiness I get when I receive positive, friendly, or helpful communication with colleagues, yet I've determined it's a major contributor to my work happiness.

So, in addition to my picture-taking to complete my #100DaysOfHappiness," I've decided to also thank someone every work day.

Today, I'm thanking Carolyn Nelson.  I haven't met her in person, but she sent out a Newsletter about Agile Coaching -- a topic I'm very interested in.  I asked if we could chat, and not only did she take the time to chat with me, she took the time to introduce me to additional people who have a shared interest.  In the short time I've known her, she has shown a genuine interest in my work and in me. What an awesome feeling.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Crucial Conversations

I haven't been writing regularly on this blog for a variety of reasons. I hadn't missed a week until early May and that was when our organization was hit with a small layoff and a reorg that meant I was put in a new role.

The new role has left me very busy which is one of the reasons I stopped writing in this blog.  However, there were also a lot of responsibilities in the new role which I haven't agreed with and have left me frustrated. I no longer felt happy myself and felt fearful of speaking up, because after all, I was lucky to have a job.

In the last two days, I've been in a class that is designed to give us the tools to speak up, in a respectful way, to voice concerns to anyone.  Crucial Conversations gives great insights into how relationships and communication can spiral downward if not done well.

I feel more confident now about voicing my concerns and working with my organization to make some positive differences. And I feel especially grateful that I work for a company that encourages this attitude and gives us the resources to safely speak up if we feel unhappy.

For those of you who are unhappy in your current jobs, I highly recommend checking out this book and taking control of respectfully voicing your concerns and becoming an agent of positive change.

Meanwhile, I am also determined to resume my resolution to find the positive in my job and update this blog more regularly.  It's so easy to get consumed by our negative feelings, but empowering to take control and find a way to make things better.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Creating a Culture Together

The Culture Blueprint With Rob Richman From Zappos Insights

I loved the messages in this video, particularly those ideas starting around the 10 minute mark where Rob talks about everyone having the ability to "opt in."

Friday, April 25, 2014

I Love Going on Vacation!

I haven't missed a week of posting on my Happier at Work Blog, so even though it's late on a Friday night, I wanted to create a quick post just to say: I'm going on vacation!!

Yes, next week I probably WILL miss the first week of the year of writing a blog post because I will be enjoying spending time with family in LA and cruising with my son in Mexico! 

I have a list of articles about workplace happiness and a lot of things that I'm grateful for, so I have no shortage of material... just a shortage of time today.

I wanted to share this article from that highlights 8 habits of happy people at work, the first being: the anticipation of an upcoming vacation! Well, that was definitely true for me this week. Though I do love my job, I also have been looking forward to the week off. Today I was able to delegate, complete, and delete a bunch of todos and now with this last item off of my todo, I'm ready to close up shop and enjoy some rest and relaxation! 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Do something worth remembering...

"To do something worth remembering with a photograph or a scar. I feel genuinely lucky to, hand on heart, say I love doing what I do."

I was moved by this video and these words. I,too, feel lucky that I love what I'm doing. And even though it's not an adventure in the traditional sense, I enjoy the challenge and the people.  When I come to the end of my life, I will not regret these days spent solving problems, writing software, and coaching people.

How about you? Do you love what you do?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

12 Personality Traits of a Great Boss

I've heard that the biggest factor in our happiness at work is our boss. When we like our boss and our boss likes us, we're happy.  And if it's the opposite... we're usually looking for a new job.  I know this has been true for me... Here's another great infographic from OfficeVibe about personality traits of a great boss:

12 Personality Traits Of A Great BossInfographic crafted with love by Officevibe, the corporate employee engagmement platform that encourages daily team building

Friday, April 4, 2014

I Love No Meetings!

I think this was the first work day I can remember that I didn't have a single meeting! It was a great day! We started a new "no meeting policy" for Wednesday afternoons at my workplace, too, and I love it.  I understand that sometimes meetings are important, but we have so many sometimes, that I feel like it's hard to ever find a solid block of time to get much done.

I'm trying to stick by some of our best practices - have an agenda, stay focused, and keep meetings short. I've also tried a few new things with 1:1's...  doing them while walking when the weather's nice or treating someone to lunch.  It definitely helps me feel like I'm talking to a friend rather than 'working.'

Here's an article from OfficeVibe that talks about how we can make meetings "suck less"!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I Love Our Dining Hall

When I first started working here at McKesson in the Westminster office, I'd usually bring my lunch in and eat at my desk.

Then, one day, I needed to have a meeting over the lunch hour, so I ran down to the dining hall to find out if there were any options to have a catered lunch in the conference room we were working in.

That was the day I met Brad Rossini, the Food Service Director for Eurest at McKesson at Westminster. Brad was so helpful and friendly. He was very accommodating with my request and gave us plenty of delicious options. It was then that I recognized what a superior dining hall is available to those of us who work here!

Since then, I've frequented the dining hall often and it's always a treat! There are many healthy options and a great variety of delicious entrees and salads for breakfast and lunch. And when I saw Brad again, he remembered my name and gave me a friendly hello. He really demonstrates true customer service and what a difference it can make.

Brad has gotten promoted and his last day at this site will be Friday, but I wanted to dedicate my blog post this week to telling "the world" that he and his team have definitely contributed to my workplace happiness.
Thank you, Brad, and good luck with your new position!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I Love That My Company Values Volunteerism

In all the Positive Psychology and "Happiness" articles and books I've been reading there are certain themes that contribute to happiness. One of those themes is around "giving." or volunteerism.  In fact, I've read that giving to others often is as much, if not more benefit to the giver as the receiver.

If you work at a company that values volunteerism, you may even get rewarded for your volunteer efforts. At McKesson, we are encouraged to log our volunteer hours and for every 25 hours that we log, we will earn a $250 grant for a qualified nonprofit. There are also community service events, such as a Relay for Life walk for Cancer.

This is one of many things that McKesson does that demonstrates commitment to community service. In fact, McKesson was rated the  "World's Most Admired" company in the health care industry and one of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens.

Even if your company does not sponsor any formal benefits around volunteerism, there are always opportunities in the workplace to help others.  Whether you volunteer for a specific cause or just to help your office-mate with a problem, according to the happiness books, the more you help others, the happier you'll be!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Take a Risk... Learn from those who were told they were "failures"

I found this video via another interesting Positive Psychology Site: Happify. Though Happify is not specific about Workplace Happiness, I'm learning that so much about Happiness is "universal." The lessons we learn about happiness apply whether we're at home or at work.  Hopefully, you work at a place where it is OK to fail, as long as you learn from that failure. Failures help us grow!

Friday, February 28, 2014

I Love Having a Decorated Cubical

It was my birthday this week. Yay! I know a lot of people shy away from celebrations, especially after a certain age, but I say, the older we get, the more we should celebrate! (After all, we will have fewer birthdays left in our life, so I'm all for milking each one for all it's worth!)

Because my colleagues know I have this attitude, they surprised me on Wednesday by decorating my cube with balloons, confetti, a birthday banner, and a painted wine-glass full of chocolates. I remember reading in 1000 Awesome Things a post about how cool it is to have a decorated cube.  It's a great thing to know the people you work with care enough about you to remember your birthday. It was especially nice, too, that my co-workers included chocolates covered in purple foil and a purple wine glass, knowing that purple was my favorite color. A friend also left a bag full of little toys (silly putty, bouncy ball, Slinky, bubbles) knowing that I love that kind of stuff. And I even got a delicious cake from a colleague who's cooking is to die for. I felt so special!

I know this is the 3rd "celebration" in two months that I've mentioned on my Friday "what-I-love-about-my-job" posts, but I can't help it! I guess these celebrations are a big part of what I love about my job! They make me know that I'm among friends...  that I'm working with people who care about me as a person, and not just as a co-worker. When you're around people you enjoy then work doesn't feel like "work"...  it can feel like a party!

Friday, February 21, 2014

I Love What I Do

It's probably obvious that a factor in being happy with your job would be enjoying the type of work you do. A lot of people think of work as "drudgery" because they would prefer to be doing something else...  often a creative hobby, like photography, music, art, or writing.

Personally, I've always been more of a left-brained geek, so being in an IT job is right up my alley.  Even when I'm not "working," I love to learn new technologies and "play" on the computer, so having a job that let's me do that all day is wonderful.

But, my creative "hobby" is writing. Luckily, there are a lot of opportunities to incorporate writing into my job so I still get a little bit of a writing fix! (Not to mention writing these blog posts!)

What do you love? What hobbies do you have and can you find ways to bring that to the work place? One of my co-workers who enjoys photography often brings his camera in and shares the photos of team events.  Another who is an awesome cook makes goodies that she shares with the team. Even though these things aren't part of the job requirements, bringing some of your hobbies and skills into the work-place let's people see more than just the "business" side of you.  And, of course, everyone appreciates someone who shares their talents with the team.

But even more important than non-business "hobbies," is discovering what parts of your job excite you. Do you love working with people? How can you do that more? Become aware of the tasks and responsibilities that you enjoy and find out if you can do more.  Maybe you can mentor others or take classes to grow that skill.

Hopefully, you're in a job that involves doing what you love to do.  If so, it's pretty easy to love your job. If not, see if you can discover what you DO love and make use of that skill in your job. It will make you a lot happier in your work!

Friday, February 14, 2014

I Love Surprises, Secret Valentines, and Desserts!

Remember those days of elementary-school Valentine's Day parties? Well, this week, we got to experience a bit of that again, but in the work place!

There were so many things I loved this week that I had a hard time deciding which one to blog about today, but since Valentine's Day only comes once a year, and a lot of the other stuff that made me happy will happen on other weeks, I decided to focus my blog post today on the Valentine's Day fun.  (By the way, I'm learning from my "Happiness at Work research" that focus is a key to productivity...  Many of us have gotten in the habit of "multi-tasking" which may be detracting from our productivity and workplace happiness." But... now I am losing my focus! Back to Valentine's Day!)

This week we had a couple of fun events at work in honor of Valentine's Day: Secret Valentines and a Dessert Competition.

The Secret Valentine's event was a little like Secret Santas (I experienced Secret Santas in the dorms in college). Everyone that wants to participate puts their name in a hat, then you draw a name and you leave little surprise gifts throughout the week for your "Secret Valentine."  Even though I didn't get a whole lot of people to sign up for this, those of us who did participate had fun with it.  I got a little thrill when I'd come back to my desk and find a candy bar or card or even a Valentine sock monkey!  And I had fun being sneaky and leaving things on my secret Valentine's desk! Of course, the first day I goofed and left my little surprises on the wrong person's desk! I bet he was a bit confused, since he wasn't even participating!

It's amazing how just a fun little surprise or note can really brighten up the day. This is something we can do all the time, of course! It's even more fun when it's totally unexpected! Give it a try!

The Dessert Competition was a lot of fun, too.  I think there were 17 people who brought in desserts. The four categories we had were:
  • The dessert Cupid would most approve of (valentine themed / beautiful)
  • Best dessert when you’re not a cook; (simple / easy)
  • Most sinful (decadent, rich)
  • Best dessert when you’re on a diet (healthy / gluten-free / lo-cal)
I brought in easy chocolate-dipped strawberries and got votes both in the simple and healthy categories! And WOW, there were a lot of decadent and beautiful desserts.


Friday, February 7, 2014

I Love Books24x7: Great Days at Work

One of the benefits available at McKesson is that we have a subscription to Skillsoft's Books24x7.

From their site:
What is Books24x7?
Skillsoft’s Books24x7® provides leading on demand business, technical and engineering content containing thousands of digitized "best in class" books, book summaries, research reports and best practices.

The Books24x7 On Demand Platform enables users to search, browse, read
and collaborate with other users of these vast professional libraries.

Every week I get an email with a whole bunch of books and other resources that are available to me that I can read online or on a mobile device for free! There are so many books that look really interesting and I'm keeping this ongoing list of all the books I want to read. I decided one of my New Year's Resolutions would be to read at least a book a month and the one I started with ties in very nicely with my Happiness at Work project:

Great Days at Work: How Positive Psychology Can Transform Your Working Life by Suzanne Hazelton

I've been keeping a "Happiness File" and taking notes from different resources, including this book. There's a lot of really interesting stuff here, so I'm planning on hosting a Brown Bag discussion at work about what I've learned.

Here's a quote from the introduction, explaining that, though not always taken seriously, "positive psychology" is becoming increasingly recognized as important in the business world!

Positive psychology has earned the reputation as the study of happiness, and as such has sometimes been a little removed from the serious professional. Although the interventions from positive psychology are well researched, with terminology such as 'counting one's blessings' and keeping a 'gratitude diary', business can be forgiven for thinking that it's 'nice', although a bit 'fluffy' with no place in the business world. My intention in writing this book is to highlight the application of relevant science to business professionals. Having trained and coached others, I personally think there's a huge relevance for business professionals.

Stay tuned and I'll pass along some more tidbits in this blog.
Happy Friday!

Friday, January 31, 2014

I Love Humor in the Workplace

Last week, I blogged about how I loved that we have the technology to work from anywhere. Well, even with all the improvements in technology, we've all experienced "challenges." Take a look at this funny video that portrays a conference call "in real life!"

The thing I love about my job this week? Laughter! Someone shared this video with me at work and it cracked me up! (They left off the flushing toilet, but I've heard that one before! Not to mention the chatter when someone thinks they're on mute and they're not! There could be a whole series of funny videos on this topic!)

I love, not only that at my workplace we can share (appropriate) funny links, but that there's laughter in the hallways and at meetings. I'm lucky to be in an environment where the bosses all have a good sense of humor and foster a sense of fun and playfulness with the teams. Sure, there's stress, too, but I think one thing that contributes enormously to workplace happiness is being in an environment where there's laughter!

So if you want to enjoy your job more... find something to laugh about and share it with your teammates. Laughter is contagious!

Friday, January 24, 2014

I Love That I Can Work From Anywhere!

One thing that I really love about my job is that I have the flexibility to work from anywhere. With our modern-day tools and technologies, as long as I have Internet access, my laptop and a phone, I have everything I need to get my job done.

I live in Colorado, but in January, I'm ready to escape the cold, and I have a little tradition of spending Martin Luther King weekend in Phoenix. (I'm a runner and there's a big race in Phoenix that weekend.)

This year, I decided rather than just coming for the race, I'd get a little taste of being a snowbird and stay the week and enjoy the weather. Thanks to the flexibility of my work-place, I was able to enjoy this getaway without having to take any of my coveted vacation-time.

Now, I work in a place that promotes "co-location" and believes that there's a lot of positive teamwork and interactions that occur "over the water cooler," so as a general rule, we're asked to limit "work from home days" to once a week.  And, honestly, when I'm in town, I usually prefer to go into the office so I rarely work from home.  I'm lucky that I have a short commute, and I enjoy my bigger monitors and seeing people face-to-face.

However, I LOVE the flexibility of being able to work from home (or from Phoenix in the Winter!)  The only downside of this is that I find myself working nights and weekends.  The truth is, though, that no one is expecting me to work nights or weekend...  Usually, I'm doing it because I want to. I really like what I do.  So... enjoying my job and having the ability to do it from anywhere... you can't get much better than that!

Friday, January 17, 2014

I Love Office Parties

One of the many resolutions I've had in the past is to keep a gratitude journal.  I've read a lot of studies that show that gratitude is a huge contributor to happiness. So...  in the spirit of workplace happiness, once I week, I'd like to have a blog post about something I love about my job.

Because December was so full of parties, Heather Carson, who plans an annual White Elephant Gift Exchange and Pot Luck, postponed our party for January.

I really enjoyed the variety of food and the fun gifts people brought. And it was just fun to hear the laughter! So contagious!

For those of you who have never participated in a White Elephant Gift Exchange, it's a fun way to "re-gift" something you aren't too excited about keeping for yourself. It can be a gag or funny or just something that you already have enough of, but think someone else would enjoy. There's a chance to "steal" from someone else (up to 3 times) or to choose a wrapped mystery gift.  At our exchange, we had everything from the not-so-popular dryer balls to the very popular Leg Lampshade Night Light and Stupid Things People Say Desk Calendar.

Here are the rules Heather distributed:

How a White Elephant Gift Exchange works
1. Each guest who wishes to participate must contribute a gift. Everyone sits or stands in roughly a circle around the pile of gifts.
2. Prepare slips of paper equal to the number of gifts with clearly written numbers. Be sure to distinguish 6 from 9, 1 from 7. Each participating guest draws a number and holds onto that slip of paper.
3. On the first turn, the guest with paper slip #1 chooses a gift, opens it, and all admire it.
4. On the second turn, the guest with paper slip #2 gets the choice of "stealing" any unwrapped gift (#1's) or choosing a wrapped one. If #2 steals #1's gift, then #1 must open a wrapped gift.
5. On the third turn, the guest with paper slip #3 gets the choice of "stealing" any unwrapped gift (#1's or #2's) or choosing a wrapped one.

The game continues based on the following:
1. If a gift is stolen from you, you can steal a gift (within limits, described below), or open a wrapped one.
2. The turn proceeds until a wrapped gift is chosen.
3. A gift cannot be immediately stolen back from the guest who just stole it.
4. The fourth "owner" of a gift gets to keep it. The gift is "dead" after it has been stolen three times.
5. "Owners" of "live" gifts must keep them visible and hold them up when requested.
6. The gift exchange ends when the last wrapped gift is opened. Usually, guests are encouraged to perpetuate the gift stealing as long as there are "live" gifts, but no one is obligated to do this.

What do you love about your job?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fun at Work Improves Teamwork and Collaboration

I'm really enjoying this new "Happiness in the Workplace" project and it seems like different examples of how happiness is beneficial just keep falling in my lap!

I started playing "OfficeVibe" (which I blogged about last time), and had an activity card in my inbox today to "Reshare a company post."  However, since the article I'd like to share was sent internally at my workplace (McKesson), I can't post the link on a public site, but I will include some quotes and give you a summary of an article.

Basically, the article said that by making a conscious effort to include fun in the workplace, employee survey results showed a dramatic improvement in employee satisfaction.

By incorporating silly team-building activities into some work meetings (while also implementing more serious work-related improvements), these innovators seem to have unlocked a key to improving employee satisfaction and business success.

The article went on to talk about how one team experienced dramatic improvements such as a 28% improvement in "How the team functions as an organization" and a 25% improvement in "Customer Focus." The leaders of this team attribute their success to teamwork, collaboration, and giving team members the opportunity to rotate.  One senior director said the team "works hard and plays hard" and that the "crazy activities we do really help foster the spirit of teamwork and camaraderie."

I think this is particularly cool because I work in Agile Software development, which really promotes teamwork and collaboration.  I'm so excited to see the recognition at high levels of how much workplace happiness can be a benefit, both to the business and the employee!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

OfficeVibe Provides Game Aimed at Improving Workplace Happiness

Today's Happiologist blog post, Why Employment Engagement Leads to Productivity, included a video interview with Dan Benoni, Co-founder of Officevibe.  Officevibe allows for gamification of workplace activities that will increase employee happiness, leading to productivity gains.  It looks like there's a free version, so I definitely want to give this a try at my workplace!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

10 Days of Happiness

Because I've been interested in positive psychology for awhile, I'm subscribed to a bunch of newsletters and blogs about happiness. Of course, even though my blog is about happiness at work, the general theories still apply.  You just have to figure out how to do all the stuff that makes you happy all the time, including while you're at work.

While I don't want to repeat stuff that's already available elsewhere, I'll share something below that was in my inbox today from the "I Am Happy Project."  I'm going to try and make as many of these calls as I can and maybe I can pass along some tidbits about how they might be applied at work.  This is starting tomorrow, January 6th, at 1pm MT.  Looks like there's an app to check out as well!

The “I Am Happy Project,” the brainchild of Edwin Edebiri of Davis, California, is inviting people worldwide to participate in a “10 Days of Happiness” campaign which will run from January 6th through the 15th. Participants are encouraged to join the Global Happiness Conference Call at 12 pm pacific or 3pm eastern to focus on one of the project’s manifesto “Ten Ways to Be Happy” for each day of the ten-day period.

There will be different speakers featured each day. Each call will be about 10 to 15 minutes and cover 2 to 3 nuggets that will make your 2014 a happier year.

The call in number is 712-432-0900 and the access code is 391022#
Day 1: Decide to be happy and make it your top priority.
Day 2: Smile more and learn to laugh at yourself.
Day 3: Volunteer your time one on one or to a group.
Day 4: Donate your money according to your pocket, even if it is a dime.
Day 5: Make time for the 3 F’s: Faith, Family & Friends.
Day 6: Create a list of all the things you are thankful for or that make you happy.
Day 7: Create a list of all the things that make you unhappy and find a solution or ways to eliminate them.
Day 8: Learn to manage your time and your money.
Day 9: Be active and make healthy choices.
Day 10: Create a goal or dream list and work diligently towards them.

This year you can follow the “10 Days of Happiness” on our FREE App – the Happy Button. You can download it for free on Apple iTunes and Google Android or follow this link

Please share the information with your network, Facebook, LinkedIn and tweet about it.
With much gratitude and happiness,
I am Happy Project Team

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Benefits of Being Happier at Work

One of my "goals" for this quarter is going to be "Improve Happiness at Work" and I challenge all of you to have the same goal.  Will it benefit the company? Absolutely! Not only will you improve your own health and mood, but it's proven that productivity increases and that happiness "spreads" to the people you are around.

Originally, when I thought of adding this to my goal set, I thought it would be really tough to measure, not only happiness, but whether or not productivity improved. Those are tough things to measure. Luckily, there have already been many reputable studies done that have proven that a happier workplace means good business.

This article written exactly a year ago, challenges readers to resolve to make their workplace a happier place.  Here are some of the stats given:

  • There is extensive evidence showing the health benefits of happiness.  The evidence that positive emotions contribute to better health and longer life is stronger than that linking obesity to reduced longevity. [2] Happy people are also significantly less likely to catch the cold virus than their less happy peers. [3]
  • Human happiness has significant causal effects on labour productivity. In a recent study, one group had an intervention which increased their happiness levels, while those in a control group did not. Treated subjects were found to have 12% greater productivity in a paid task. [4]
  • Happier organisations outperform their competitors. A study looked at the stock market performance of the "100 Best Workplaces" in the US (based on positive feedback from employees about working there) over a 12 year period from 1998 to 2010. The Best Workplaces achieved an average annual return of 10%, outperforming the benchmark S&P 500 index which returned an average of only 3.8% over the same period. [5]
  • Three important factors for satisfying work are: Mastery (doing work which is challenging but which you can manage successfully), Control (having enough discretion in how you do the job) and Purpose (the feeling that what you do is worthwhile and part of some wider whole). [6]
  • Our happiness influences the people we work with and the people they know. Research shows that the happiness of a close contact increases the chance of being happy by 15%. The happiness of a 2nd-degree contact (e.g. friend's friend) increases it by 10% and the happiness of a 3rd-degree contact (e.g. friend of a friend of a friend) by 6%. [7]

What ways can you contribute to a happier work place in 2014? Leave a comment with your ideas.

[1] Mercer (2011), "What's Working" survey
[2] Diener, E., Chan, M.Y., Happy People Live Longer: Subjective Well-Being Contributes to Health and Longevity, Applied Psychology: Health and Wellbeing, 2011
[4] Oswald, A.J., Proto, E., Sgroi, D (2009), Happiness and Productivity, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
[5] Russell Investment Group for Fortune Magazine (2011), How does trust affect the bottom line?
[6] Pink, D. (2009), Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Riverhead.
[7] J.H. Fowler and N.A. Christakis, Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years, British Medical Journal, December 2008

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happier at Work: Just Start!

I've been interested in the science and psychology of happiness in the past few years.  Inspired by Gretchen Rubin's popular blog and book, The Happiness Project, I've wanted to start my own Happiness Project, as she recommends.

I'd like my project, however, to focus on an area that typically is not thought of as "fun"... In fact, in, "fun" is listed as one of the antonyms.

Here are the words listed as the synonyms of the word, "work.":

None of these words sound appealing, yet many of us are spending a major chunk of our lives working. Though the meaning of life continues to be a mystery, one thing I've decided for myself: I want to spend my life being happy, wherever I am and whatever I'm doing. Don't we all? Why shouldn't we be as happy at work as we are when we are on vacation?

My temptation, whenever I start a new project (whether it's at home or at work) is to avoid starting before I know exactly what I want to do.  I also often am a perfectionist and want to make sure I've done all my "homework" and research before beginning. This often keeps me from starting.

So today, I am just taking the first step by starting this blog. I'm not going to worry about having a whole outline about how often I will blog or how I will measure happiness at work or the benefits or exactly how I will execute this project.  There are tons of ideas in my head about how we can be happier at work, but I will follow Gretchen's lead when she started her Happiness Project blog and just consider the creation of the blog as that important first step.

So, while I'd like to have a new "theme" as Gretchen did in her book, I'm going to start with this one learning for myself about how I can be happier at work: Just start! Let go of that feeling that I can't start until I know how to finish and just take a first step, even if I'll have to change or refine over time.

So...  here it is.  The first step!