Happier workplaces are possible when leaders abandon toxic popular in years gone and evolve to become kinder.
Happiness has a compounding effect. It spreads through society with greater acceleration as more people are affected.
When leaders focus on increasing staff happiness; the mental health outcomes in society will improve exponentially.
Focused determination to increase the number of happy employees will create more content, kinder, healthier and more prosperous societies.
How many workplaces make a serious effort to build a happy workforce?
Regrettably, many of us know from experience that an alarming number of workplaces are led by tyrants. Very often these tyrants have modelled their behaviour on the tyrant to whom they reported when they ascended the corporate ladder.
Somehow these old school leaders think that is appropriate to be arrogant, condescending, mean-spirited, rude, self-absorbed, intolerant, argumentative or hurtful.
It’s hard to imagine how, but these leaders sincerely believe that toxic leadership is good for business as staff will be shamed into giving their best performance.
The reality is, however, that workplaces that are led by tyrants are generally staffed with unhappy people. Looking through the prism of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we see that, unhappy workplaces cannot be as innovative and productive as those staffed by people happy people.
Abraham Harold Maslow was a psychologist who, in 1954, articulated a theory for humans to survive, thrive and be happy through the fulfilment of human needs. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs remains on the core syllabus for first-year psychology students to this day.
Maslow believed that humans need to feel connected to others, particularly to family, friends, colleagues and community. Humans also need esteem. These needs are met when a person feels a sense of dignity, independence and proud of their achievements. Esteem is also achieved when a person believes that others recognise their abilities and accomplishments. These needs must be met before a person can be truly happy.
Organisations that do not meet the basic and psychological needs of their staff risk creating spaces where people go every day to increase in unhappiness.
Unhappy people are pessimistic; they focus on unhappy memories, struggle to cope with change and complain a lot. They can be quick to anger and many overdo it with alcohol or some other numbing agent. Not surprisingly, these behaviours trigger unhappiness in other people who come into contact with them.
People who work in unhappy work environments are walking the streets of our towns and cities. The spouses, children, extended family and friends of unhappy workers are also walking the streets of our towns and cities.
Through contagion, staff infected with unhappy workplace disease infect their friends and family. They and there, now infected, family and friends, infect the society in which they live. The contagion effect has the potential to ripple and multiply through the community. Unhappy workplace disease leads to dissatisfaction on a local, state and national scale. In a connected world, unhappy workplace disease has become a pandemic.
Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.
It is, therefore, the moral obligation of every CEO, manager and leader to ensure that their workplace is happy.
Not only are toxic leaders inadequate at their jobs, but they are also afflictions upon society and the world. Full-time staff working for command and control leaders spend approximately 40 hours of their 112-hour waking week at work (56 hours deducted for asleep). That is more than a third of their waking lives spent working in an unhappy and unhealthy environment. The flow-on effects of working in a toxic workplace to the community are significant and toxic leaders are ultimately answerable for the damage.
The simplest way to achieve happy workplaces is to ensure that staff members are happy.
One sure way that leaders can contribute to the fulfilment of the needs of their staff is to treat them with kindness.
Leaders who demonstrate kindness are held in higher esteem by their staff, colleagues and superiors. But if this isn’t reason enough to investigate compassionate leadership, perhaps this will:
There is a correlation between kind leaders and happy workplaces. There is also a correlation between happy workplaces and organisational success. Happy staff work harder, are more engaged, motivated and productive. Furthermore, happy staff take less unscheduled leave and are more likely to stay with their employer. Further reading on the effect compassionate leadership has on the productively see Why Compassionate Leadership is Good of Business.