The Business Case for Happiness
Microsoft SMB Blog, Cindy Bates
April 2013

I recently came across a PBS special called “The Happiness Advantage,” based on a book of the same name by Shawn Achor, a former Harvard lecturer and currently CEO of positive psychology consulting firm Good Think, Inc. The TV program and book focus on how principles of positive psychology can be applied to increase professional performance. As someone whose management style tends to favor collaboration and camaraderie within my team, I was drawn to the notion that happiness and optimism can have a beneficial impact on productivity and business results. So I invited Shawn’s partner at Good Think, Michelle Gielan, to come speak at an offsite I recently hosted for my team.After reading “The Happiness Advantage” and hearing Michelle speak, I’m convinced that a culture of happiness at work can sharpen any organization’s competitive edge. And there’s plenty of research to back it up. One study found that happier doctors determine the right diagnosis in patients nearly 20 percent more often than their less happy counterparts, and happier salespeople outsell their pessimistic colleagues by 37 percent.

When our brain is in a positive state, we are more creative and able to imagine greater possibilities – the first step to achieving those lofty outcomes. As Michelle shared with my team, simple changes to your mindset and those of your employees can translate into a more effective and productive work culture. Here are a few tips to inject a little more positivity into your everyday:

  • Start every meeting on a positive note by recognizing something you’re pleased with or proud of that your team has completed or accomplished.
  • Make the first email you send each day a note of gratitude to someone you work with.
  • “Fact check” your negative thoughts. If you catch yourself thinking “I’ll never finish this project in time,” look for evidence that debunks your own myth, for example by thinking about all of the deadlines you’ve met in the past.

“The Happiness Advantage” asserts that the single greatest advantage in the modern economy is a happy and engaged workforce, and I believe this to be true. Is happiness one of your business values? If so, I’d love for you to share what you’re doing to promote positivity in your business. Please leave comments below so we can all create a business advantage with something as simple yet powerful as happiness.