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Workplace happiness

Jun 05, 2012


A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Entrepreneur Network, a partnership of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.


By Anya Petersen-Frey, Regional
Director, MBA, PhD (abd), Senior Human Resource Professional


As an employer, I am frustrated by the concept that it is my job to make my employees "happy".  I certainly want them to be pleased at work and have a vested interest in the business' success, but "happy " seems more of a personal thing, a bit touchy feely for the office.  Am I wrong to expect an employee to come in and want to do a good job?      Ann E.  Cheyenne


Alex Linley, founder of the Center for Applied Positive Psychology in England, said, "Happiness gets trashed.  It's considered too pink and fluffy for the workplace."  Therefore, you are not alone in thinking this topic might be out of place in the office.  However, Linley points out it is often dependent on perception.  For example, she strives to help organizations become "strength-based".  This means that the employer seeks to buoy what people are doing right, rather what they
are doing wrong.


In the book, First, Break All The Rules, by Marcus Buckingham a survey found that only 17% of U.S. workers use their strengths at work.  Yet, the largest global companies such as Yahoo, Toyota, and Best Buy have strength-based cultures.  trengths, according to Linley, are the "pre-existing capacity for behaving, thinking, or feeling that is authentic and energizing to the user, and enables optimal functioning, development and performance."  It is believed that when employees use their strengths it will tend to create a sense of purpose, and "happiness" with their work.


So, what does this mean to you as a small employer? Start by defining the strengths needed in your business and then redefine roles (job descriptions) to better play to a person's strengths.  Perhaps have an employee partner with someone who compensates for his weaknesses.  Explore and evaluate your approach and continually refine the process.  Ask employees for input into their jobs and how they might see their strengths best utilized.


This is a process, not an immediate solution, so give it a little time.  In the long run, it can lead to "happier" employees and a more productive environment for you, the business owner, and lead to a better experience for your customers.


For more information about the services of Wyoming Entrepreneur, or to ask a question,

call 1-800-348-5194,
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write 1000 East University Avenue, Department 3922,
Laramie, WY 82071-3922.

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The Wyoming Entrepreneur partnership program is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Additional support is provided by the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming.

Category: Entrepreneur

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