Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Happy as You Work

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Happy as You Work

Article excerpt

Happiness and work performance are two heads of the same coin.

Having a job can be critically important to happiness. At the same time, recent research on both sides of the Atlantic shows that happiness leads to significant improvements in workers' on-the-job performance.

For U.S. employers, however, a worrying trend has emerged: Despite improvements in U.S. employment figures, happiness in the United States has been in a tailspin. In 2007, the U.S. stood in the top twenty percent of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development nations ranked on happiness by the United Nations' World Happiness Report. But by 2016, the U.S. position had deteriorated, with a dramatic tumble to the bottom half.

Is there anything U.S. employers can do to reverse the trend and achieve a turnaround in this decadelong fall? The World Happiness Report cites a few obvious areas their research shows matter to all workers. These include:

* financial security (in the form of secure jobs that pay well);

* health and safety (addressing risks);

* social needs (on-the-job relationships as well as work/life balance); and

* self-actualization (job design that provides autonomy and variety).

According to their analysis, specifically in the United States, rising inequality has been a drag on happiness, with the top one percent in income now earning as much as the bottom seventy percent. This level of inequality has fomented increased distrust between people and in institutions. It has also created a sense of hopelessness and a feeling of a lack of freedom of choice, according to the report.

Yet institutions have been slow to react. U.S. public companies, for example, have fought attempts to require disclosures of the levels of pay inequality between top managers and workers, and between individuals of different genders and ethnicity. …

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