‘Tis the season for secret Santas and Christmas parties, but do these office socials actually boost workplace happiness? Businesses of all sizes have been in the pursuit of happiness, because happy workers are productive workers, and productivity has been always been the holy grail of the corporate world.
From nap pods to hot-desking, businesses across the UK are going to great lengths to create the ideal work environment to keep the workforce stimulated, rewarded and motivated. But happiness is about more than buttering up your staff, says life coach and inspirational leader, Craig Goldblatt.
In a recent study tracking the key predictors of happiness and misery by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Ernesto Illy Foundation, mental illness was found to be the strongest determinant of misery in the UK, US and Australia, over poverty and unemployment. How do you go deeper into the psyche of workers and arm them with the tools for inspiration, confidence and ultimately – happiness?
“The key is to love ourselves,” says Goldblatt. “We’re all in this journey to prove that we’re enough.” Over the last 14 years, he studied a lot of psychology and the values and depths of human potential. In his experience, two main fears block our happiness. “The fear that I’m not enough, and the fear that I’m not loved. A huge percentage of our belief systems about life are conditioned through genetics, and in the first 10 years of our lives, it’s conditioned by culture, school, media, and friends. But what our hearts really want is to love ourselves.”
Goldblatt believes that workplace happiness is a vague concept, and ultimately, if you want a happy workforce, make sure you hire happy people. “Some people have already figured out the formula; how to feed your two needs. All we all want is to love ourselves, live our purpose and our own values.”
“Happiness comes from living how you want to live, not how others want you to live.”
Whether it’s an internal exercise or something companies put in place as part of personal development, Goldblatt explains that there are a few key introspective questions to ponder.
“Number one: ask yourself ‘what’s best for me at a purpose- or values-level?’ This is more about your belief systems. What makes you get up and go; your moral compass. Number two: live naturally. This is tied to a personal belief, of course, but those who live as naturally as they can in our current world are happier. It’s a simple fact,” he explains.
People talk about destroying the planet, but the planet’s 4.5 billion years old, he adds. “We’ve only been around for a couple of hundred thousand years. The world will reinvent itself. What’s important for us to reconnect with the planet; living with nature, living in nature.”
“We’re not business. We’re not buildings. We’re not built to sit at a desk, staring at a screen for hours on end.”
As for living with and in nature, Goldblatt swears by a plant-based diet, which didn’t come easy for the South African native. “I’m South African, so I’ve eaten meat all my life. But for the past few months I’ve been vegan. Of course when people hear the word ‘vegan’, many react negatively because it’s not the norm. It’s alien. And anything that doesn’t align with the myths we’ve been conditioned by, is a threat. But that’s my personal value. It doesn’t need to be everyone’s belief system. It makes me happy, and makes me feel connected to nature. But there are other ways for people who like their meat,” he adds.
A 70-year study into happiness reveals that the number one thing for happiness is building and sustaining high quality relationships. This has taken on a new meaning in the digital age, where people connect through their screens more than face-to-face. “We sit next to each other for eight to ten hours a day and know nothing about each other. This, again, goes against the principle of living naturally.”
Connecting with others and focusing on the quality of relationships is a way to live naturally. It’s hard to do, in a survival city like London. We all need an extra £80,000 all the time, and end up stumbling through life like an addict looking for the next fix.”
“Entrepreneurs, work out really what’s genuinely most important to you,” Goldblatt concludes. “Why do you want more money? What’s more important for your happiness. When you reach the end of your life, and you’re on that rocking chair looking back, what will be your emotional legacy?”