People Management

Make Happiness at Work a Priority

By Andrée-Anne Blais-Auclair December 23 2019

Employees today want not only a good job, but a stimulating work environment. As a result, it’s a must for managers nowadays to make happiness at work a major consideration.


Obviously, managers work on having motivated and productive employees. Well, that’s exactly what happiness brings—and why it’s so important.

A Paradigm Shift: Workplace Engagement and Happiness

I recently read an article that stayed with me. In it, Léger survey firm founder Jean-Marc Léger says, “previously, what we measured was work satisfaction. In the last five years, it was workplace engagement. But now, it’s happiness at work.”

It would seem that we’re at last giving happiness the place it deserves. Its importance has now been demonstrated. This is good news.

What Is Happiness at Work?

Did you know that hairdressers, real estate agents and dentists are at the top of the list when it comes to happiness? Those professions guarantee a satisfying everyday life given the freedom they provide and professionals’ contact with (generally) satisfied clients throughout the day. Food for inspiration, perhaps?

There’s also a global workplace happiness index. Quebec ranks 72.64 out of 100, which is above the customary 60% passing mark, but still far from perfect.

But what do we mean by happiness at work? After tons of reading, I can tell you there’s no unanimous, widespread or even clear definition. What we do know for certain is what influences it.

What Underlies Happiness at Work?

More and more, specialized researchers are acknowledging the importance of the tasks themselves.

Have you ever worked someplace where your role didn’t really make sense to you? Or even worse, were you given tasks that just weren’t like you?

Giving our best becomes pretty difficult in such conditions.

A friend of mine was ecstatic and super proud about getting a job in a private business. In this new position, he was expected to demonstrate leadership, and to be social and more active in his team. This was a Web developer position. Well, my friend is also an introvert, and he went through every day trying to do something that felt impossible for him. He didn’t feel valued or acknowledged. Inevitably, this experience led to what could look like failure.

But guess what.

For more than a year now, he’s been working a job that fits him way better, and he is racking up compliment after compliment.

In short, what I want to show is the importance of valuing your employees. This is something also noted by Deloitte analysts. Businesses must stop construing work experience in terms of compensation and benefits only.

Measurements of Family-Work Balance

This may surprise you, but 55% of Quebec parents would be willing to change jobs if that meant better measures for family-work balance. If this statistic doesn’t speak volumes, I don’t know what does.

But here’s another.

Family-work balance is a major source of stress for 66% of parents of children ages 0 to 5.

This shocking data comes from a Léger survey.

Workplace happiness top-lister Google has pointed out that women are twice as likely to quit their jobs right after having a child. Consequently, they now offer five months of fully paid maternity leave instead of the usual twelve weeks.

But even if employers enact measures to address this, such as sick days that can be used to care for children, people can still feel judged for making use of them. This is a no-brainer: no employee wants to feel stressed or guilty when asking for time-off because of a familial obligation.

A Word on Stress at Work

Stress appears to be one of the great scourges of employees. According to a study from HR consulting firm Morneau Shepell, almost 1 of 3 (29%) Quebec employees admit, under the cover of anonymity, suffering from “hyperstress,” defined as “excessive” AND “chronic” stress.

I have to admit this doesn’t surprise me.

In a previous job, I had to make tight deadlines and rapid deployments on a regular basis. At one point, I remember wondering why I was making more mistakes than usual, and above all, why I felt so bad.

I felt like I was constantly too short on time for what I had scheduled. I dreaded the pressure at the start of every day, and at times felt overwhelmed by stress to the point where I ended up demotivated.

It’s obvious that stress causes demotivation. Therefore managers should take it upon themselves to care for their staff’s mental health.

Employees feeling the pressure of their work while the time is passing by really fast

How to Create Happiness at Work?

Ever since it was established that happiness at work promotes productivity, reduces absenteeism and increases staff retention, a number of employers have become obsessed with finding the perfect formula. According to a study by global HR leader Robert Half entitled “It’s time we all work happy,” this connection highlights certain universal factors that influence staff happiness and loyalty.

Here are our 7 best tips

1. Emphasize corporate culture from the outset: Hand-picked employees who fit within the corporate culture integrate more easily. They’re even said to become productive more quickly.

2. Promote accountability: According to psychologist Jacques Forest, one of the three innate psychological needs is autonomy. Employees should have enough latitude to make their own decisions. By holding employees accountable, you show them they’re trustworthy.

3. Offer acknowledgement: Everyone needs to be acknowledged. Constructive feedback enables improvement, while positive feedback creates a pleasant climate and engenders loyalty. Psychologist and University of California Greater Good Science Center member Christine Carter advises employers and managers to make their praise “sincere, specific, and given as soon as possible.”

4. Treat employees fairly: People have a visceral need for justice. It’s therefore unsurprising to read that fair treatment is a major factor in employee satisfaction. Here, we’re talking about giving clear information regarding salary, promotion and project policies, as well as task distribution. It’s also important to properly consider every person’s needs so everyone is treated fairly.

Young man juggling between his work and personal obligations, and his happiness

5. Make sure that employees’ work makes sense to them: Employees who see their work as useful are reportedly 2.5 times more likely to be happy than others. As stated earlier, this feeling of meaningful employment gives the impression of making a difference. It is crucial.

6. Entertain positive relationships at work: Positive workplace relationships promote good communication, cooperation and collaboration between managers and employees. It’s even said that being friends with colleagues is extremely positive for workplace motivation and counters loneliness significantly.

7. Foster a good working climate: According to a Jobboom study, this is the most important factor for both male and female Quebec workers. Are you surprised? If there’s a positive and pleasant climate at work, people look forward to clocking in and are that much more motivated.

I want to end this post on a high note. If you came here looking for avenues for improving your workplace, I trust that you were able to find some inspiration here. Otherwise, maybe the post made you realize why you’re not (or no longer) happy at work. Whatever the case, I hope you enjoyed the read.


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