Happiness and Community at Work

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Summary: Happiness and a sense of community in the workplace are linked.

Key Take Aways:

- Authentic expression is an integral part of community.

- Without it, employees may feel disconnected from their workplaces and research has indicated this disconnection can increase their risk of having accidents.

A recent article on the Harvard Business Review site addressed the importance of community in the workplace. In particular, the importance of allowing everyone in an office to have equal opportunity to speak about their work experiences and their personal experiences to one another in meetings was referenced. The reason it is important is that it helps workers feel more socially and emotionally engaged in their workplaces.

Recent research supports this notion. A survey conducted at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington state identified two factors that could raise the risk of worker accidents. The first is when workers feel they are not listened to and the second is when they feel emotionally uncomfortable in the workplace. Though these kinds of considerations may seem 'fluffy' and therefore unworthy of discussion, the Washington research study found there is a greater risk of injury due to employee unhappiness. In their survey, worker unhappiness was tied to the two factors mentioned above which are mainly about being disconnected from the community of the workplace.

Furthermore, disengaged workers costs the U.S. economy an estimated $350 billion dollars a year in lost productivity. Engagement with co-workers in a sincere way with equal time for everyone to express themselves and to be heard, is sometimes described as authentic communication, and authenticity or 'keeping it real' generally is something that people appreciate, when done tactfully. Several years ago, a study of authenticity was conducted and the findings indicated there is a positive relationship between sincere expression and psychological well-being, which includes happiness.

The study was titled, "The authentic personality:  A theoretical and empirical conceptualization and the development of the  Authenticity Scale". (Journal of Counseling Psychology, Vol 55(3), Jul 2008, 385-399.)

The Harvard Business Review article references something called the Sanctuary Model, which basically is a framework for creating non-violent, trusting, caring, and cohesive community. Authenticity is also probably a word that applies.

So, though it may appear peculiar to some work cultures or employees it makes sense to include opportunities for authentic expression in the workplace in order to foster greater community and happiness.

Image Credit: Summi, Wiki Commons

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