|Boosting Productivity Through 'Happiness'.|
By Vijay Dandapani
Tuesday, 2nd February 2010
The WSJ has a report on a relatively new practice among employers: boosting happiness at work via coaching as away to combat stress at work.
The Journal notes that "happiness coaching is seeping into the workplace. A growing number of employers, including UBS, American Express, KPMG and the law firm Goodwin Procter, have hired trainers who draw on psychological research, ancient religious traditions or both to inspire workers to take a more positive attitude—or at least a neutral one.
Happiness-at-work coaching is the theme of a crop of new business books and a growing number of MBA-school courses."
As a topic of philosophic discussion, Happiness has been discussed for centuries and only recently has attracted the attention of behavioral and social scientists with reams of research being produced over the last couple of decades along with a focus on how to measure it.Countries have employed a sort of "happiness quotient" to advance their national interest. In fact, Bhutan has a Gross National Happiness website while France too has promoted happiness as a new "currency".
However, the Journal report notes that critics see "positive thinking as just a way for companies to improve morale while they continue to burden employees with the threat of layoffs and an ever-increasing workload. Barbara Ehrenreich's recent book, "Bright-sided," blames "positive thinking" for enabling people to avoid confronting a wide range of serious problems in the economy and workplace."
Ehrenreich is a trenchant critic of the approach and has another book entitled "Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America & the World." And yet positive thinking is just what many workers seem to want regardless of locale as this report from Korea attests. The survey from Seoul notes that the phrase employees want to hear most is "You are the best"!
For service industries such as hotels in a period of receding business, research showing that employees' "positive attitudes can be good for business" is more than welcome. As the Journal report also notes "a 2004 study of 60 business teams in the journal American Behavioral Scientist found teams with buoyant moods who encouraged each earned higher profit and better customer-satisfaction ratings."
One approach is to have employees ask themselves, 'What can I do to make my work more meaningful? What can I do to make myself happier?"' For employees in the hotel industry, particularly in front-line positions, that search for meaning can have tangible results visible in the responses they get in their daily interactions from guests.
Vijay is Chief Operating Officer and part-founder of Apple Core Hotels- a chain of 5 midtown Manhattan hotels offering value and comfort in the heart of the city.Member of the board of Directors - Hotel Association of New York.