There is a very important movement taking place in the United States and northern Europe that associates the economic success of a company with elements such as happiness, joy, personal purpose and fulfilment of employees.

I discussed this subject with 200 people during the 10th International Conference on Happiness at Work, which was held in Copenhagen on 23rd and 24th May. A conference day and a workshop day to learn where the international community is on the topic of happiness at work and share best practices and tools.

The recurring keywords in the various presentations were: trust in your employees, self-confidence, courage, respect for one’s own and others’ uniqueness and therefore being oneself, the impact of work on society, empathy.

Alex Kjerulf, the host and one of the leading international experts on the subject, says that “the future of work is happiness”. There are no other roads, in one way or another for the evolution of the current world of work, pursuing this path is indispensable. Studies show that happiness at work is positive for employees and the bottom line. Happy work environments are more effective, less stressful, have low absenteeism and low employee turnover.

The current reality, however, often sees compliance with a dysfunctional system of behaviour rewarded. Rich Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovation and author of “Joy inc.” Told us that in his opinion “the opposite of courage, it is not fear, but conformity” and that we must dare to break the patterns and try new solutions. dare to help people find their own way to combine private and professional life. And he dares going beyond the concept of happiness and talking about Joy!

Of course, all this is difficult when we are used to taking ourselves tremendously seriously at work and when the error is not contemplated. In reality, errors are the basis of learning and indispensable for development, they must be celebrated and exploited as necessary for evolution. Monica Hilm, Vienna House, ended her presentation, dedicated on how to put own employees first, with this exhortation “take your job seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously and laugh at yourself”.

The pace of work and the stress associated are harmful to the health of companies and employees. Research by the University of Zurich shows that 1 employee out of 3 is at risk of burnout (physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress). The cause of this is the Acceleration trap: having too many things to do, too many different things and not seeing the end. Jochen Menges, a professor at the University of Zurich, illustrates how companies’ habit of continually asking their employees to speed up makes their performance worse. It seems paradoxical, but to improve performance it is necessary to focus on one thing at a time, prioritize activities and not be afraid to stop unnecessary ones, involving the employees in this simplification process. The goal is to balance personal and professional life to reduce stress and take over the reins of own life.

Professional and private life are much more connected than we think. Arthur Woods, social entrepreneur, says that “the work today represents the extension of who we are”. In the beginning, the work was seen as a commitment that could be measured with the level of satisfaction, then as a career, to be measured with the level of engagement, today it is increasingly linked to the vocation to be measured with what the person feels to be fulfilled. 59% of people would leave their current job for another that makes them feel fulfilled, even being willing to reduce their income by 10% or more.

As human beings, satisfaction is not the most important thing, it’s happiness. In most of the companies, it is the first to be measured, and the difference is important. The satisfaction measures what I think of my work, happiness measures what I feel for my work. And we know that action is much more influenced by feeling than by thought. In fact, the most common causes of bad days at work are linked to what we have experienced: bad relationships with colleagues, lack of praise, little support from the boss.

How to act, then?

Certainly, companies are called upon to review their organization and processes to welcome and benefit from the change underway. But it is everyone’s responsibility to start from himself and trigger the process. As Gandhi said, “be the change you want to see in the world”. Here are my suggestions:

  • dare to be brave and not conform
  • establish sincere relationships with colleagues
  • dare free gestures of kindness and support
  • give positive feedback to colleagues, bosses and collaborators

Take the habit of writing daily the 3 beautiful things at work of the day, it is proved that after two weeks of practice, there are improvements in energy and in vision

My three good things about this event were:

  • the certainty that a movement is underway that will change the way we work
  • exchange and comparison with 200 people of 25 different nationalities
  • have learned useful tools for my work responsibility to start from himself and trigger the process. As Gandhi said, “be the change you want to see in the world”.