By Aurangzeb Soharwardi
Its an undeniable and scientifically proven fact that other than task ,tools and processes , the contextual environment , contextual behavior, employee’s state of mind are very important factors to increase productivity and ultimate performance. More depends on work culture or organizational culture of the country or the region or the particular company. But generally speaking , happy workplace is not the priority for most of the employers and hobbies ,fun ,leisure time is considered non productive and wastage of time and resources. It is also considered that employees may become lethargic and casual due to these activities and they need to be controlled and monitored just to do their work seriously. With the passage of time the change became rampant and technology engulfed the whole system of work. More over the rapidly changing social, economic and political dynamics also called for more and more employee engagement at work and overall in the organization. Here emerged the concept of happy workplace and happy worker. Ryan and Deci offer a definition for happiness in two views: happiness as being hedonic, accompanied with enjoyable feelings and desirable judgements, and happiness as being eudemonic, which involves doing virtuous, moral and meaningful things .Workplace happiness is caused by many factors like rewards ,work relationships, job security , Respect , leadership, justice & accountability, job enrichment , job autonomy, career development and many others. But two of the important factors are Art and Hobbies which can boost employee productivity by making them feel happy. Prof Edward F. Diener is an American psychologist, professor, and author. He is noted for his research over the past thirty years on happiness. According to Professor Ed Diener, Happiness and subjective well being is defined as a person’s cognitive and affective evaluation of his or her own life. It broadly means experiencing pleasant emotions, low levels of negative mood and high life satisfaction. a positive and pleasant feeling at work. It has following aspects like excitement at going to work , liking the people you interact with at the workplace , feeling safe and appreciated at the workplace , ability to associate some meaning to our work, and have some fun in the process. Lord Richard Layard is a well-known British economist. He is the founder-director of the Centre for Economic Performance, at the London School of Economics, where he is presently programme director. In 2012, he co-edited with Jeffry Sachs and John Helliwell, the World Happiness Report. For the first time, a concerted effort was made to move happiness (at work) from just being a fluffy concept to the realm of proper measurements. A recent study at Oxford University has clearly established what people have long suspected – happier employees are on average more productive. This six-month study of 1,800 sales and call centre workers at British telecom firm BT found a clear causal effect of happiness on productivity. The workers were asked to rate their happiness each week via an email survey comprising five emoji buttons, from very sad to very happy. Happy employees not only worked faster, making more calls per hour, but also achieved 13% higher sales than their unhappy colleagues. According to Prof Rajagopal Raghunathan of McComb’s Business School at UT Austin, a leading researcher and author on happiness, happy employees: are more collegial, better team players ,have better health and energy – take less sick leave, and are more helpful to coworkers. In a series of studies, recently published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, researchers directly asked thousands of people (ages 18 to 81) about their preference between experienced and remembered happiness. Researchers found that people’s preferences differed according to the length of time they were considering — and according to their culture. In one study, we asked 1,145 Americans to choose between experienced happiness (“where you experience happiness on a moment-to-moment basis”) and remembered happiness (“where afterwards you will reflect back and feel happy”) for either a longer timeframe (i.e., their life overall or next year) or a shorter timeframe (i.e., their next day or hour). The majority of participants chose experienced happiness over remembered happiness when choosing for their life (79%) or their next year (65%). By contrast, there was a roughly even split of participants who chose experienced happiness and remembered happiness when choosing what they wanted for their next hour (49%) or day (48%). A study by Northwestern University’s Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement broke ground by focusing on employees who do not have direct contact with customers. It nevertheless showed a direct relationship between how employees feel and customer attitudes, concluding that any company that wants to directly impact its bottom line can measure employee satisfaction and know that improvements to it will drive profitability. Daniel Goleman’s analysis of 181 jobs in 121 organizations found that emotional competencies were the best differentiator between star performers and typical performers. While IQ accounts for only about 10% of the variance in job performance, the biggest difference is made by abilities such as being able to handle frustrations, identifying others’ emotions, controlling own emotions and getting along with other people (Rosenthal, 1977 Snarey and Vaillant, 1985 Sternberg, 1996). Happiness is dispositional in nature, rather than being circumstantial (Myers & Diener, 1995). Four traits consistently found to mark happy people are actually components of Emotional Intelligence: Self esteem, a sense of control, optimism and extroversion. (Myers and Diener, 1995). Building social bonds have been found to be especially contributor towards long term Happiness (Burt, 1986 Cohen, 1988 House, Landis, & Umberson, 1988 Pavot et al., 1990). Findings from a study by David Sirota, co-author of The Enthusiastic Employee: How Companies Profit by Giving Workers What They Want reveal that employee happiness actually starts out pretty high, but it declines significantly, the longer a person works for their employer. Based on a survey of 1.2 million employees between 2001 and 2004, the study showed that employee job satisfaction. The functions of the Happiness Evangelist are: •to assimilate the culture of the organization that is built on the key values of Sharing, Mindful,Integrity, Learning, Excellence and Social Responsibility (S.M.I.L.E.S.) . Work–life balance which is the equilibrium between personal life and career work , also plays very important role in creating happy employees. Workplace wellness is any workplace health promotion activity or organizational policy designed to support healthy behavior in the workplace and to improve health outcomes. Known as ‘corporate wellbeing’ outside the US, workplace wellness often comprises activities such as health education, medical screenings, weight management programs, on-site fitness programs or facilities. Industrial ergonomics programs seek to identify and correct factors that negatively impact the physical health of their workers. Participatory ergonomics programs seek to maximize the involvement of the workers in this process based on the simple fact that a worker is an expert on his or her job. The participatory approach to ergonomics relies on actively involving workers in implementing ergonomic knowledge, procedures and changes with the intention of improving working conditions, safety, productivity, quality, morale and/or comfort. Salutogenesis is a medical approach focusing on factors that support human health and well-being, rather than on factors that cause disease (pathogenesis). More specifically, the “salutogenic model” is concerned with the relationship between health, stress, and coping. The term was coined by Aaron Antonovsky, a professor of medical sociology. Implementing positive psychology in the workplace means creating an environment that is relatively enjoyable and productive. This also means creating a work schedule that does not lead to emotional and physical distress.
As far as improving employee productivity through hobbies is concerned , Gaetano DiNardi in his article of Feb 2019 in Harvard Business Review writes that A creative hobby pulls you out of all that. Whether you’re a musician, artist, writer, or cook, you often start with a blank canvas in your mind. You simply think: What will I create that will evoke the emotion I’m going for? It’s no surprise that by giving yourself this mental space, and focusing on feelings, you can reawaken your creativity. Neuroscientists have found that rational thought and emotions involve different parts of the brain. For the floodgates of creativity to open, both must be in play. He adds that In one study, researchers found that “creative activity was positively associated with recovery experiences (i.e., mastery, control, and relaxation) and performance‐related outcomes (i.e., job creativity and extra‐role behaviors).” In fact, they wrote, “Creative activity while away from work may be a leisure activity that provides employees essential resources to perform at a high level.” business should celebrate employees’ hobbies. Zappos puts employee artwork up on its walls and encourages people to decorate their desks in whatever ways they wish. Some businesses hold talent shows. Even employees who may not have these kinds of talents should be encouraged to do something that feels creative and fun. Some CEOs spend time on their own hobbies, setting the right example. One study even found that creative hobbies can positively impact employees‘ performance in the workplace. Hobbies allow us to take a break, but feel like we’re doing something productive in our downtime. They can be social or meditative. They can be challenging, teach new skills, and inspire patience. The research out of San Francisco State University looked at how creative activities like knitting, cooking, painting, photography, gardening or what-have-you affect work performance. In a two-part study the team of psychologists asked 341 professionals about their pastimes and also asked them to rate both their level of creativity at work and the level to which they support their colleagues. Another group of 92 Air Force Captain also gave information about their afterhours pursuits and had their evaluations of job performance examined. Music ,Art and Sports also have the benefit of mind relaxation ,cardiovascular health: exercising will raise energy levels, combat stress, and feed oxygen to your brain. This is a result of endorphins, which are released by your muscles when you run or lift weights. This powerful substance provides an immediate boost to your energy and happiness levels. The Companies must make an endeavor to involve employees in their hobbies and other art events to make them feel happy and elevated to be more productive.
The Science of Happiness on edX.org. is a wonderful international organization enabling organizations to create happy workplace.