Policy of Happiness?
If science proves that happiness improves business performance, shouldn't policymakers act? Many people claim that 'happiness' in economic terms is defined as the pursuit and accumulation of material wealth. They reason that even an avalanche of positive research on emotional and physical well-being would have no traction in the policy world. The Western belief is, after all, that people are responsible for the happiness in their own lives.Not the C-suiters.
I had a discussion with my mother yesterday eve - she's from 1945. She seemed convinced that people have to be intrinsically happy, not contextually. And having a job is not a means to be happy, but a means to accumulate wealth. A job will allow for proper housing, food and leisure activities for the family. The care taking for the family promotes happiness, not the job itself. I failed miserably to convince her thinking differently.
She believes that in case a job makes unhappy, it is compensated for by the pay.
Apparently I am from a different generation and by definition I seem to disagree with her. While realizing this, I see so many hardworking people burn out. People very close to me. After many years of hard stressful work, they suddenly collapse. Often in the midst of life they hit the wall big time. Unsatisfied and drained by stress and subconscious frustration. Once they recover they realize that they have to change things. Making contextual changes to be happier. Often they are even prepared to sacrifice the height of their income.
In my role at BR-ND I try to promote happiness through meaningful purpose. If people stop working for the money and start pursuing something worthwhile, they might get what everybody deserves; a rich, rewarding and happy life. Reality is however, that most companies are run for the money and in general they are not very happy and inspirational places. Let's face it, who wants to work for, invest in or purchase from a greedy company?
Apart from promoting meaningful purpose, I am convinced that something else has a direct impact on the emotional happiness of people; the degree of physical well being. I mean sports and nutrition.
If policy makers would realize their organization performs better with engaged happy workers, shouldn't they start with promoting regular sports activities? How can people be happy, if they sit behind their desks for over 8 hours a day? And probably 2 hours in the car. Day after day. Year after year.
The more I think about it the more I start liking it. Wouldn't it be nice if every organizational team would be committed to the gym or outdoors for 45-60 minutes daily. Wouldn't that have wonderful effects on teambuilding? Wouldn't that have tremendous effects on creativity? Wouldn't that boost happiness? And what about if organizations would provide for healthy foods? Lot's of fresh vegetables, fruits and lean meats? What if teams would eat together instead of a sandwich behind their desk? What would be the positive impact on performance and results?
What if the purpose of an organization was to promote happiness?
And what if my mom would listen?
Alexander Koene, Perros Guirec, 15 july 2013