In-Sight: The “Happiness Movement”

The evidence just keeps rolling in with tsunami impact—and the plain truth is that there is a mounting movement toward “workplace happiness.”  Companies as large as Face Book are not only discovering—but also communicating—that the secret to their success is employee morale and satisfaction—creating an environment where people look forward to coming to work each day.

“Toxicity” poisons an organization when the inter-personal dimension goes into eclipse, or is replaced by what people today are calling “shark-tank leadership.” A chain-of-command environment where people no longer feel affirmed, or even safe, is driving people to look for other places to invest their gifts and talents.  Insensitive, regulatory, “my way or the highway” leaders will soon be the next dinosaurs in the new organizational world.

So…what is the secret to happiness in the workplace?  According to an article in today’s Fast Company e-letter, it is collaboration—a relational environment where hierarchies are flattened and people are valued and loved.  It is an environment where people work in teams and create things together.  It is an environment where the leaders serve rather than dictate.  It’s an environment where relationships trump rule books.

It is an environment where the “best” are not only hired, but also admired and affirmed—a place where keeping people and growing them becomes the primary value among leaders and their co-workers. No one is viewed as “expendible” because they do not “fit” anymore.

The evidence is mounting.  A tsunami is coming.  Only organizations who practice what’s also being called “the soft side of leadership” will be able to attract the best people.  Only those who learn how to value their people through ongoing investment in them will survive.  No amount of public posturing can make up for what’s happening “on the inside” every day.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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3 Responses to In-Sight: The “Happiness Movement”

  1. Dennis Owen says:

    This post is very much appreciated, thank you, Steve! Of course the “utopian” work theory assumes anyone once in the right environment, will automatically perform in a utopian way. Similarly, we assume that the right environment will automatically make anyone happy.

    I have always believed in flatter, cross-functional organizational structures. But I do wonder if some of the reason they work is because later generations of workers generally grew up with less structure and discipline in the home—so they demand the same to function well at work. And while I believe there are lots of “traditional” work models that stifle productivity, innovation, collaboration, motivation, etc., I do wonder about the shift in culture which stifles one’s ability to employ discipline and authority as may be necessary to correct, teach, and train.
    So, I guess there are two cliffs you can fall off. Personally, I believe an oceanfront office would make us all considerably happier. Speaking for my own staff, however, I’m not sure it would make any us more productive. But I’d test the theory if I could.

  2. flutterby43 says:

    Having survived working in one of those “toxic” situations, in retrospect, the saddest thing (for me) is the fact that these leaders are often able to convince their employees that “things are this way because of you – because you are ‘less than’.” Shifting the responsibility for poor leadership onto those being led is unfair at best, abusive at worst.

  3. Chris says:

    Great post, Steve! This is so very true!

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