The idea that a paycheck and a title is enough of an incentive to enjoy work is an argument that begs the question of employment itself. Research is showing, however, that a corner office and the far-off promise of success are not enough to keep most enthused about the rat race.
Though we've been conditioned to believe success breeds happiness, a Harvard psychology researcher has found that to be a myth. Shawn Anchor, author of "The Happiness Advantage," suggests that happiness makes the brain function better and increases productivity of the workforce.
With a study by England's University of Warwick proving Anchor's research, credit unions should consider how employee happiness can contribute to that of its members.
Increasing happiness in the credit union sector
In the last two years, Mazuma Credit Union of Kansas has increased its level of salary and benefits more than $6,000 for each employee. The aim is to cultivate a more positive environment for employees, according to CreditUnions.com
Mazuma CEO, Brandon Michaels, ensures quality interpersonal relationships are weighed just as heavily as work output.
"We're not afraid to fire people who don't align with our culture; we're just not," Michaels told CreditUnions.com.
The 202 staffed credit union begins job reviews as early as six weeks, basing less than a quarter of the evaluation on the role itself. Peer-to-peer engagement and positive member experience account for 76 percent of job performance critiques.
To create an active and enthused work environment, Michaels suggested other credit unions allow employees to embrace their inner child, have autonomy over their work-life balance and get all the training they need.
How happiness improves productivity
According to "Happiness and Productivity", the study done by Warwick University, when Google invested similarly in the company's happiness factor, employee satisfaction rose 37 percent.
Giving such attention to employees may be good not just for company morale, but also production and the bottom line.
"The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality," Dr. Daniel Sgroi, of the university's department of economics, said in a press release.
The study observed the responses of over 700 participants after being exposed to positive stimuli and asked about recent family tragedies. Over the four varied experiments, productivity increased by 12 percent in those with a positive outlook.
Cultivating happiness away from the workplace
In a 2012 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Anchor noted every business outcome improves with positive employees - not just productivity, but also engagement and creativity. According to Anchor, employees can and should take their well-being into their own hands.
After building up their "happiness muscle" over four months' time, a 2008 study group measured 13 percent higher on the life satisfaction scale, recalled Anchor for HBR. This proves neuroplasticity, the ability to change your neural wiring by thoughts, behavior, can yield dramatic results.
The most impactful positive exercise, says Anchor, could be engaging positively with an aligned social group. How would that translate in a professional setting? Common courtesy and human interaction. When hospital employees consistently made eye contact and spoke to others within 5 to 10 feet of them, patient recommendations increased.
A solid social network, stress management, as well as meditation and gratitude are all things Anchor recommended to boost positive-thinking in and out of the workplace.