As Aristotle once said, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” Whether or not employers believe Aristotelian philosophy, they are clearly seeking ways to improve the emotional well-being of employees.

A happy office is a productive office

Although transient, positive emotions lead to lasting benefits that are not only good for employees and their overall well-being, but are also good for the bottom line. The evidence shows that positive moods at work improve productivity by over 10 percent; spark creativity; improve the way employees feel, function and interact with others; and are a key factor in promoting resilience, and resilient workers are known to look for new solutions, avoid negative reactions and feel confident about their ability to overcome future obstacles.

High-performing teams demonstrate far more positivity than that of lower-functioning teams, and managers with greater positivity influence their teams to be more positive, making it easier to coordinate and accomplish tasks.

Building a happier business

Companies can pursue a happier, more resilient workforce by intentionally crafting a workforce strategy and culture that prioritizes emotional well-being. Across the National Business Group on Health membership, we see employers meeting this goal through:

  • Happiness programs that teach techniques to increase positive emotions and reduce negative ones, such as expressing gratitude and promoting volunteerism

  • On-site mindfulness training, mindful lunches and quiet rooms for relaxation and respite from digital distractions

  • Approaches to addressing anxiety and stress that include easily accessed mental health and financial counseling benefits (in-person, virtual/digital and telephonic) along with flexible work policies to improve work-life balance, increase perception of job control and eliminate commute time

  • Increased attention to sleep as a gateway to improved mood and better health, with the opportunity to reduce risks of diabetes, stress, weight gain, depression, inflammation, memory loss and even cancer

  • Resilience training to grow the capacity to positively adapt to adversity. Baseline levels can be measured and improvements tracked at an individual and population level with potential benefits that extend beyond work performance and productivity, to lifestyle choices and health status

Resilient and resourceful

Resilience training is particularly popular among large employers, and with good reason.  Research indicates highly resilient workers have 46 percent less perceived stress than their less resilient counterparts. Key business outcomes associated with increased employee resilience include better physical health, higher job satisfaction, reduced absenteeism and a lower intent-to-quit rate. All of which support happier, engaged employees.

Happiness researchers tell us that 40 percent of an individual’s happiness can be attributed to thoughts, plans and behaviors — in other words, things within our control. Businesses would do well to support employees and family members in the pursuit of happiness, an ideal that’s foundational to our democracy and benefits individuals, organizations and communities.