Last week I spoke at my favorite conference to an audience of peers in the Human Capital space. I spoke on Happiness and presented some cutting-edge neuroscience on the topic and argued for its relevance in the workplace, not just outside it, as a key lever of human performance. I shared studies starting from about 100 years ago that began to explore the correlation between happy employees and workplace productivity. There is indisputable evidence showing both correlation and causation that you can google search. Yet, it is a taboo subject and as such, the workplace has abdicated that responsibility to outside its walls.
Many reasons for this. 40 years ago, we did not know how to talk about behaviors in the workplace and now we base competencies and even compensation on them. 20 years ago we did not know how to talk about emotions in the workplace and now EQ is a wide-taught leadership competency. A key jump-starter to these two transformations was having a science-based framework to initiate the conversation. That framework now exists. It is time to make it okay for us to ask the most powerful question one human being can ask to another: Are you happy? The question is only powerful if the person asking it is not willing to accept a superficial response.
I understand that we do not ask this of ourselves, nor of our spouses or children often enough. And this makes it even more challenging to ask at work. Show me a happy person at work who is not collaborative and a high performer, and I’ll be shocked. Show me under-performers and dysfunctional employees/leaders and I’ll bet they are largely unhappy people. This week, use a different lens in your interactions in your company. Look around you in every meeting and ask yourself who is happy or not. Correlate that to their output (performance) in that meeting. This simple awareness is a great first step to getting you to ask that question when you are ready: Are you happy?