The Importance of Happiness in The Workplace
Happy, grateful people are more engaged and productive at work.
Happiness at work has never been more talked about than now. A number of researches have proven that when employees are happy at work, they do better at work, resulting in higher employee engagement, improved team relationships, and lower turnover for the company. After all, a business is a business because of its most important asset, people.
By paying more attention to one's stress level, energy level, health and wellbeing, people feel happier and more balanced. With a clearer mind, people can do better work. With balance and good health, people have better interactions with colleagues and better relationships with people in their lives which in turn makes them even happier.
Stress, Illness, and Immune System
While working long hours under pressure might help a company achieve some short-term goals in growth and sales, it is not sustainable in the long run as employees get burned out. Your stress level affects your immune system. When you're stressed, the immune system's ability to fight off antigens is reduced, causing you to get sick more easily. Prolonged periods of stress can also increase your risk of several diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
The immune system is a collection of billions of cells that travel through the bloodstream. They move in and out of tissues and organs, defending the body against foreign bodies (antigens), such as bacteria, viruses and cancerous cells.
The main types of immune cells are white blood cells. There are two types of white blood cells – lymphocytes and phagocytes.
There are two types of lymphocytes:
- B cells- produce antibodies which are released into the fluid surrounding the body’s cells to destroy the invading viruses and bacteria.
- T cells (see picture opposite) - if the invader gets inside a cell, these (T cells) lock on to the infected cell, multiply and destroy it.
When we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced. That is why we are more susceptible to infections.
The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system (e.g. lowers the number of lymphocytes).
Stress can also have an indirect effect on illness as a result of prolonged bad habits which people use as coping strategies, such as, smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, poor diet, lack of exercise, and lack of sleep. All of these are likely to have a negative effect on a person’s health if they become year-long habits.
Stress can also cause one to have headaches, flu, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma and gastric ulcers.
Short term suppression of the immune system is not dangerous. However, chronic suppression leaves the body vulnerable to infection and disease.
Employees' Happiness & Increased Performance At Work
“People are more productive and creative when they have more positive emotions. In fact, we found that, if happier on a given day, people were not only more likely to come up with a new idea or solve a complex problem that same day but also to do so the next day." - Teresa Amabile, co-author of The Progress Principle
Ultimately, though, the source of productivity is the individual knowledge workers who get things done every day. And the evidence is clear: People perform better when they’re happier.”
- Gratitude Improves Well-Being – The Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley found a strong correlation between frequently expressing gratitude and better health; participants in their study reported increased happiness, a greater sense of life satisfaction, and a higher resilience to stress.
- Gratitude Reduces Impatience – A recent study found that when participants felt grateful they were more patient and had increased self-control, even more so than participants who felt happy or neutral. Researchers believe this may be a result of gratitude eliciting a sense of fulfillment and of there being more opportunities later.
- Gratitude Boosts Brain Function – When we are stressed or upset at work, the limbic system of the brain basically takes over, suppressing activity in the prefrontal cortex which is the part of the brain responsible for “executive functions” and creative thinking. When you express gratitude, it instead creates a calm and safe environment in the brain, which not only makes you feel happier but can result in your brain, and the brains of those you work most closely with, doing better work.