Why Happiness is a Strategic Advantage in the Workplace

Employee groups that have a happier, more positive mindset are 30% more productive, while salespeople can sell up to 37% more.
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Although there are positive signs about the future, employees have felt something of a COVID-19 hangover the first three months of this year as the pandemic continues, according to Jim Pouliopoulos, but focusing on things that increase happiness benefits employees and employers alike.

“It’s the intersection between three big areas, which is your own personal sense of happiness, your personal positivity and your workplace, and how you as a leader can influence the well-being of your workplace,” said Pouliopoulos, senior lecturer and director of the professional sales program at Bentley University, on Tuesday during the opening keynote of MDM’s Future of Distribution Summit virtual conference. “And how you as a leader, as an executive, as a business leader of all kinds, can implement some career satisfaction for yourselves, but also for the people that work with you and around you.”

While some employees have become burnt-out by the continued Zoom calls and balancing work careers with their home lives, Pouliopoulos used Vice Admiral John Stockdale as an example of someone who focused on what he could control versus what he couldn’t when he was a prisoner of war for eight years in North Vietnam.

As a realist, Stockdale focused on controlling his thoughts, words and actions and not the external things that were happening around him, as opposed to pure optimists who focused on arbitrary dates for being released that were beyond their control.

“His lesson really was that you have to adopt a mindset of realism in your circumstances, and that you can have optimism, but have optimism on your abilities and your ability to control your thoughts, words and actions, and not try to control the external events that are occurring around you,” he said. “And certainly, the external events around us all have been very difficult for the past year.”

As part of his leadership reboot plan for 2021, Pouliopoulos said employers need to think about what works best for each of their employees in regard to making them happy. Pouliopoulos cited research that says 63% of the employees want to remain in a hybrid work environment by working some days in an office and the rest at home. Only 20% of the employees want to work full-time from home while just 17% want to work in the office full-time.

“I implore you, as you start to think about what 2021 brings, to think about how you will design the new workplace and take into account the emotional impact, and also the desires of the people that work for you and work around you,” he said.

For the employees who are continuing to work from home in some capacity, Pouliopoulos said to give them a permanent place to come and go — instead of working from kitchens and bedrooms — so they feel a sense of belonging and can build some rapport with their co-workers.

Happy employees and employers make for happy workplaces, which in turns builds loyalty and enables better performance, Pouliopoulos said. Employee groups that have a happier, more positive mindset are 30% more productive, while salespeople can sell up to 37% more, he added.

“The research all points to some very interesting things about happiness, about inner joy, about well-being and about resilience,” he said. “And that is that happiness is not just a nice thing to talk about, but it can honestly be a strategic advantage to your organization. My argument to you today is that the overall environmental happiness of your organization and your personal happiness as a leader has a huge effect on your organization.”

Work-from-home tips

Pouliopoulos said that pretty much everyone has Zoom burnout at this point, which has led to some employees suffering from a heightened sense of emotion regarding how they interact with others on video calls. Some tips for pandemic-weary work-from-home employees include:

  • Lean back, and not into, Zoom or other video conference calls, which Pouliopoulos said literally enables a longer view of a video call.
  • Turn off the view of yourself during video conference sessions. Seeing an image of themselves makes users self-conscious and has a negative impact on their psyche, according to Pouliopoulos.
  • When people meet face-to-face, they look down while taking notes. People should be comfortable enough to look down and even away during video conference calls, or even get up and move around a bit, Pouliopoulos said.

“Fight the Zoom fatigue. Zoom is here to stay,” he said. “But we need to adapt to it. We need to use it in a more effective way. Not everything has to be a Zoom meeting. You can get on the phone and have a conference call without all of that video.”

Missed the Future of Distribution conference? It’s not too late to register and watch on demand. Content will be available through July 11. 

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