Friday, February 28, 2014

Happiness in the Workplace: An Imperative for Sustainable Business

While happy employees are beneficial to all types of businesses, they are particularly important for sustainable enterprises. Happiness is an often overlooked corollary of sustainability. It is closely associated with productivity and corporate social responsibility (CSR). In fact happiness contributes to the three pillars of sustainable business (people, planet and profits). Some bottom line business people may be tempted to dismiss employee happiness as ancillary to success or even altogether irrelevant, however, these people could not be more wrong. A growing pool of data corroborates the contention that happiness is a critical component of a successful enterprise.

An article by John Havens, titled Quantifying Happiness: The Measure of Well Being at Work, reviews how some innovative new technologies are demonstrating the importance of happiness to success in business. This new field is called affective computing, where devices recognize the physical cues of a user and correlate their responses with an emotion or data relating to their identity. Wearable technologies that monitor health suggest that happier employees are healthier employees. According to data cited by Havens, companies that monitor employee health outperform those that do not by 10 percent. Havens further suggests that here may even be legal repercussions to this new technological reality.

There is far more at play than productivity. Happy workers increase employee retention and reduce the churn, which contributes to additional savings. Happy workers are more satisfied and they are also a source of invaluable public relations. A happy worker is also likely to be more enfranchised and consequently more likely to buy-in to a companies sustainability program. All of these factors taken together support the idea that workplace happiness is a core feature of a successful sustainable enterprise.

Related
Crafting a Positive Environmental Narrative
Video - The Happy Planet Index
Video - Bhutan is Both Happy and Sustainable
Video - It is No Coincidence that Costa Rica is both Happy
Video - The Economics of Happiness (Trailer)

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