Our understanding of wellbeing has come a long way in the last few years. We now know a lot about what makes us both well and happy. But what is new is that policymakers have woken up to these research findings and are planning to put them into practice; for example the Office of National Statistics now measures wellbeing across the country.
So it comes as no surprise to read recently in The Times (“Workers want a little gratitude, not more money”) that gratitude can be more important for workers than money. Jill Sherman writes that “employers consistently failed to realise what motivated their workforce”, but that the government is intending to “put happiness at the heart of policy-making.” Here are some other quotes:
- Greater productivity is more likely to come from happy, well-supported employees than a bumper bonus.
- Success needs to be rewarded, but not necessarily by money
- Mental health, meaningful work, loneliness are some of the key drivers of happiness or unhappiness.
Other studies have shown that happy employees…
- Stay in their jobs twice as long as less happy colleagues
- Are 58% more likely to go out of their way to help others
- Are 186% more likely to recommend their organisation to a friend!
As one study concluded, “Concentrating your efforts on making employees happy is the most direct and powerful way to impact your organisational culture.”
So happiness at work turns out to be as important as happiness in life generally. One particularly significant research finding (known by psychologists for many years) is that money, bonuses and perks (think bankers’ bonuses) are actually poor motivators for productivity. In fact, the larger the “extrinsic” reward, the more likely it is to demotivate people! Much more important are “intrinsic” motivators such as autonomy (giving people more control over what they do), mastery (competency) and purpose (having some sense of meaning in work), which includes developing healthy work relationships.
And gratitude? Well, people who express gratitude and appreciation about their lives have been shown to…
- Be more loving, forgiving, joyful and enthusiastic
- Long-term, experience more joy, optimism; and less greed and bitterness
- Cope better with stress, recover quicker and have better health than less grateful people
Sherman’s article concludes: “Volunteering has a tremendously positive impact on wellbeing. So you could have a society where everyone gave up volunteering and took up crack dealing and prostitution, and that society would have a much higher GDP growth rate. That’s crazy.”
All of this is a great encouragement to the many ordinary people who simply but powerfully serve their neighbours through volunteering, encouraging gratitude, and work with a positive attitude. It seems that the government is only just catching up!
The Happiness Course is a very effective way of helping our neighbours to understand all this important research, and more importantly, find ways forward in their own lives. Find out more by going to the tab “Happiness Course” on this site.