The biggest misconception of what it means to be happy at work


Jenn Lim has spent the past decade as CEO of Delivering Happiness, a business consulting firm that works with global companies to help them create happier, more sustainable workforces using scientific research into happiness.

And during the global pandemic that has caused people to reexamine their values, many Americans are finding that their day jobs don’t match how they want to spend their time. As a result, the U.S. job market has seen record waves of people quitting their jobs in the spring and summer in search of something that could give them more flexibility, pay, motivation, and happiness.

But for all the ways employers try to keep workers on site or attract new ones, Lim says there’s one important thing wrong with what it means to be happy at work.

The Biggest Misconception About Happiness At Work

Too often, when companies try to create a supportive, happy, or fun corporate culture, they do so by offering additional amenities or perks, like free breakfasts at the office or a monthly wellness allowance. It can make the work environment more enjoyable, Lim says, but only creates a happier workplace on a very superficial level.

“The biggest misconception about workplace happiness is taking things extrinsic and thinking that’s what people really care about – those perks,” Lim told CNBC Make It.

Lim adds that she saw this overreliance on additional benefits. ever since she started her career in Silicon Valley as a “Baby Dot Com”, to the days when having a good work culture was synonymous with “things like having ping pong tables and free Red Bull in the office”.

Public sentiment about convenience-filled corporate campuses has changed over the years, especially during the pandemic, when employers could no longer rely on their office experience as a staple of their corporate culture. But Lim says employers have always fallen into the same trap when trying to figure out how to engage and support employees outside of a traditional office space, such as giving employees access to mental health apps. instead of doing the job figuring out what’s really keeping people from feeling motivated in their jobs.

How leaders should think about happiness at work

What employers lack when they rely on the offer of additional benefits is to determine the intrinsic motivation of their employees, or “why we present ourselves, depending on who we are as human beings”.

“If we think of retention,” Lim says, “we think of people who want to be productive and engaged. The more they are treated like human beings, the more they will present themselves.”

This deeper exploration of what people expect from their jobs forces leaders and executives to “consider treating people as a holistic person – not just their skills or their roles and responsibilities,” says Lim.

She says leaders should consider: where are their employees mentally? Where are they emotionally? Where are they physically? Where are they in relation to? How do they relate to the purpose and values ​​of the company, and is the company doing enough to help them make that connection?

Lim’s latest book “Beyond Happiness” offers exercises that individuals can do to better understand their intrinsic motivations, as well as what employers need to do to enable workers to integrate these values ​​into their daily work environment.

Values ​​assessments – and building company-wide strategies to support employees – don’t have to be expensive, either, adds Lim.

“There is a misconception that if you invest in your people, it will be a big expense for a business,” Lim says. “But the more you invest and see people as an asset rather than an expense, the more you will see the positive results in who they are, what they do and what they engage in. It benefits the goal of. profitability of the company., and their objective too. “

To verify:

Workers quitting en masse are “a good thing,” says workplace happiness expert: here’s why

1 in 4 workers quit their job this year: Here’s what companies are wrong about retention

These 10 companies have the happiest employees, here’s why

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