“Happy employees, happy company” is a common mindset these days. It tells us to aim directly at organizational happiness.
Happiness is an outcome of a set of complex factors. Instead of asking “how can we get people to be happier?” a better approach is to design an environment where happiness is the natural result. An environment where people know that their work matters, understand the value the organization provides, and regularly get the sense of community and connection that sustains them.
Unfortunately, the pervasive happiness myth persists.
But this idea that happiness can be delivered in a box wrapped up with a bow is the idea that prevents individuals and organizations from actually finding it.
As Viktor Frankl said, “for success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue.”
There are times on the job when people can’t be, and even shouldn’t be, happy.
Should we tell soldiers to be happy? Firefighters? Hospital workers?
People in these roles would laugh if you told them they could achieve a steady state of happiness at work.
They don’t do their work for happiness. But they still do their work. That’s because they do it for something deeper. And if they do get a dose of happiness along the way, they’re all the more grateful.
As clinical psychologist and bestselling author Jordan Peterson says, “The purpose of life, as far as I can tell… is to find a mode of being that’s so meaningful that the fact that life is suffering is no longer relevant.”