Does happiness in the workplace really matter?

HAPPINESS AT WORK: Maximizing Your Psychological Capital For Success
By Jessica Pryce-Jones
Wiley-Blackwell; $29.95 9 (CAN)

“Happiness does matter from both an individual viewpoint and in terms of business sustainability,” says Jessica Pryce-Jones, CEO of the human asset management consultancy iOpener and author of the new book HAPPINESS AT WORK Maximizing Your Psychological Capital For Success. “If you’re really happy at work, you’ll be 180 per cent happier with life overall, have 180 per cent more energy, and be nearly 50 per cent more productive than your least happy colleagues,” she explains. Pryce-Jones bases her conclusions on an in-depth, five-year study involving 3,000 people that included focus groups and comprehensive interviews with eighty individuals, as well as her years of consulting and coaching for both large and small organizations.

According to Pryce-Jones, happiness at work is a mindset that allows people and their organizations to maximize performance and achieve their full potential. Based on her research, the benefits include getting promoted faster, earning and learning more, generating better and more creative ideas, achieving greater success, and being healthier. For businesses, the impact is greatly improved productivity and sustainability.

Fast-paced, insightful, and filled with practical advice, anecdotes, and case studies, HAPPINESS AT WORK reveals that there are five components – or 5Cs – to the happiness equation:

1. Contribution is the most important part and operates in two ways – from the Inside-Out and from the Outside-In. Inside-Out means achieving one’s goals, having clear objectives, raising issues that are personally important, and feeling secure in one’s job. The Outside-In part of Contribution consists of being listened to, getting positive feedback, being respected by one’s boss, and feeling appreciated. Pryce-Jones suggests that people focus first on things that are clear and doable such as goals and objectives and that the more abstract concepts such as having a sense of job security will flow from there.

2. Conviction is about being motivated at work; feeling effective and efficient; showing resiliency when times are tough, and perceiving that one’s work has a positive impact on the world. Although Pryce-Jones provides practical tools to help people achieve a strong sense of Conviction, she warns that this component is often easy to ignore, because it involves a deep sense of self-awareness. “Pay attention to your level of Conviction,” she advises. “It provides essential clues that indicate whether you’re truly happy on the job or need to make changes.”

3. Culture is made up of the norms, values, and behaviours that are particular to an organization. People who work in a positive culture enjoy their jobs, like their colleagues, appreciate the values the workplace stands for, believe they are being treated fairly, and feel that they have control of their daily activities. Although culture is more difficult for individuals to change than contribution and conviction, Pryce-Jones does provide steps that people can take to impact the culture around them, since being proactive is a key to happiness.

4. Commitment is what every organization wants from every employee because it has such a big impact on the bottom line. People know what it looks like, but find it extremely difficult to achieve. In HAPPINESS AT WORK, Pryce-Jones shows that increasing commitment is just as much an individual’s responsibility as it is a corporate one. People suffer when they don’t feel committed to what they do. Pryce-Jones provides a clear road-map for achieving commitment.

5. Confidence gives people the knowledge that they can handle tasks and relationships too. Contribution, conviction, and commitment all depend on being confident. “At its center, confidence is made up of getting things done, the solid evidence which tells you ‘yes I can.’  The softer, flakier and more fragile edge is made up of self-belief and your understanding of your role,” Pryce-Jones explains. The harder center is difficult to dislodge, while the softer edge is more vulnerable. It’s important to choose jobs, goals, and challenges that push the boundaries of one’s comfort zone in order to grow confidence. But it’s equally important not to do it alone. Increasing confidence also means creating safety mechanisms and support when trying new and difficult things.

Highlighting the personal stories of managers, employees, politicians, farmers, teachers, journalists, bankers, doctors, and others, HAPPINESS AT WORK is a hands-on primer for creating success. In addition to exploring the 5Cs, Pryce-Jones also shows how pride, trust, and recognition are intricately woven into the very fabric of happiness. People need pride and trust in their organizations and recognition for their achievements. “These qualities act like signposts, confirming that you’re on the right road, in the right vehicle, and heading in the right direction,” the author writes. “Not having them is strongly associated with less productivity, more sick leave, and greater intention to quit.”

Jessica Pryce-Jones is CEO and founder of the UK-based consultancy iOpener (, which enables people to improve their performance and organizations to develop sustainably. A regular speaker and media commentator, she is featured in the BBC series Making Slough Happy and CNN’s special on happiness at work. Pryce-Jones teaches and coaches leaders at London Business School, Chicago Booth School of Business, Saïd Business School in Oxford, and Judge Business School in Cambridge.

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