What if leaders generated happiness at work?

Do you wonder how leaders can help employees to be happier with what they are doing at work?

Happiness at work is often seen as a positive side-effect rather than an enabler of business success. However, in times of increasing economic uncertainty and competitive pressure maintaining or increasing the level of happiness at work is becoming more and more important. Happier employees can be a crucial differentiator when it comes to increasing positive outcomes and productivity, and retention rates. In fact, companies with higher than average employee happiness exhibit better financial performance and customer satisfaction.

happy people

Most studies agree on the following findings about the origin of happiness: 50% come from genetic predisposition, 10% from the environment you live in, and the other 40% from your intentional activities. In short, this means “half” of your degree of happiness lies in your own hands.

So far, the numbers. But WHAT exactly are a drivers of happiness that you can influence?

A structured approach to happiness

To have a more scientific look at this, let’s go back to Maslow’s pyramid of Needs:

maslow pyramid of needs

In developed countries the two basic needs, physiological and safety, are usually satisfied, but many people lack belonging, esteem, and/or self-actualization – especially in the work place.

If you are a leader, you might think that this is far too complicated to handle in your day-to-day job, but I believe that a few tweaks in how you manage your team can make a real difference.

3 things leaders can do to create a pathway to happiness

Below you can find 3 concrete tips on how to directly influence the degree of belonging, esteem, and self-actualization of your team members:

Belonging to a team

Strong relationships and a sense of belonging can be built by leaders who are genuinely interested in getting to know their team members. In simple words: if you care. Do you know what your people are concerned about in their professional and personal life? What keeps them awake and what is motivating them? If not, it’s time to ask!


To acknowledge the achievements of team members, leaders need to know about the strengths of their people and create opportunities where they can leverage them as often as possible. When people are given the space to use their strengths their work seems to be more rewarding to them. They gain in self-esteem on the one hand, and – if you regularly highlight the achievements of team members – the esteem of their colleagues.


This is the ultimate step, which you might reach when employees are feeling that their job is contributing to a higher purpose they can identify with. Make sure that the overall company purpose is understood by your people by bringing it regularly to life in real examples of how their work directly or indirectly contributes to it. Celebrate the achievement of the individual or the group regularly and openly. Implicitly, this also positively impacts their relationships with colleagues as they have the sense of belonging to a group that works towards the same purpose.

“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future, it is something you design for the present.”

Are you ready to become a professional “happiness creator”?

Happiness is not a destiny like having blue eyes or small feet. It is something you can work on for yourself and where you can help others to find their way. It is a game-changer that is neglected by many, which can therefore make an even bigger difference.

If you want dive deeper into the subject, I recommend to go on www.authentichappiness.org where you can find questionnaires to assess your current situation.

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© 2019 Ulrike Seminati, Zurich, Switzerland