An Introduction to Happiness

For the next five weeks, I’m going to be digging into the idea of being happy at work. This week, I’m going to share why we’re talking about this in the first place. I’m sharing some high-level statistics here, but click on the links to the articles and studies to dig in more. It’s great stuff.

First, the Next Generation Prizes Happiness Above Everything Else
When you ask the members of Generation Z what value they prize most in life, most have a simple answer: happiness. In fact, over half of Generation Z say happiness is their ultimate goal in life according to a study by the Barna Group. This is important for two reasons: The next generation entering the workforce wants to be happy. And, if that is the case, they’re looking for places to work that will make them happy.

Second, For Those of Us a Bit Older, It Seems That Many of Us are Also Unhappy
The desire for happiness isn’t exclusive to Gen Z.

  • In 2017, Time Magazine found that just 33% of Americans were happy. That was a very slight increase from the year before, when 31% of Americans reported being happy.
  • When OnePoll surveyed 2,000 British people on how happy they were, their average happiness level was 6.3 out of 10.
  • Finally, in the 2019 World Happiness Report, the report found that “Negative feelings—worry, sadness, and anger—have been rising around the world, up by 27 percent from 2010 to 2018.”

Third, Unhappiness is Causing Adverse Effects on Our Productivity
The University of Warwick completed numerous studies to determine if and how people’s happiness translates into productivity in the workplace.

Their findings: “Happiness made people 12% more productive.” The authors went on to describe that when companies like Google invested more in employee support, Google’s employee satisfaction went up by 37%. Their point: “The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.”

But, What is Going to Make Us Happy?
Going back to Generation Z, when the Barna Group asked Generation Z what they would make them happy, their responses were the following:


Photo credit: Barna Group

Meaning, 43% said that more success would make them happier, 23% said that more education would make them happier, and so on.

For Next Week…
And this is where we’re going to spend the next four weeks: digging into ways in which I’m seeing others and myself find more happiness in our jobs. Instead of looking to be “successful” or to receiving more education to find our happiness, I believe (and imagine you do, too) that there are other ways people are finding happiness that may be more productive. Stay tuned.