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Employee WellbeingMental Health

How to create a happy workforce

By September 20, 2021December 14th, 2022No Comments

It can be difficult to fathom the events of the last 24 months. We are still in a state of uncertainty and not knowing. The effect this may have long term on our mental and physical wellbeing may be detrimental if we do not mind ourselves.

The ’toing and froing’ working from home and working onsite brings with it many challenges. Working from home, we are isolated; away from colleagues, away from the normal social outlets we enjoy. Our basic needs of social interaction have been severed. Team dynamics have taken a beating. We don’t have our colleagues to chat to face-to-face while meeting at the water fountain. Equally, we are forced to spend substantial amounts of time with family members/flat mates/spouses/partners. Some of us embrace the slow and cautious return to the office; in search of some semblance of normalitywhat we may remember it to be.

Why do we want a happy workforce?

Research demonstrates that high employee engagement in work results in increased energy and enthusiasm, and supports individuals becoming immersed in their roles (Schaufeli and Bakker, 2004). A study carried out by researchers at Saïd Business School at Oxford University, demonstrates that ‘happy workers are 13% more productive’.

How can happiness be improved among employees in a working environment?

Research by Coo & Salanova (2018) demonstrates that ‘MBI’ or Mindfulness Based Intervention is quite effective in boosting productivity, work engagement and performance and happiness of a workforce. The authors discuss findings further suggesting that shorter MBI programs could be effective ‘Healthy Organizational Practice’ for individuals working in the healthcare sectors.

Schoo, (2008) explores the relationship between choice theory and emotional intelligence in the organisational sector. The study particularly examines the impact on productivity and health.

Again, in healthcare, Schoo explains the importance of leadership in terms of impacting team and organisational development. Schoo also refers to research that demonstrates that effective leadership by leaders possessing emotional intelligence can encourage positive outcomes such as: positive relationships among colleagues, working as a team, continual learning and development of individuals; supporting and encouraging retaining staff (resulting in lower staff turnover).

The author explains that emotional intelligence is being attuned to ‘your own needs’ as a leader, and the needs of your team; thus, working with both to the best of your ability. This involves promoting a positive attitude and positive behaviours. Similar to Glasser’s choice theory leaders ‘support their team members in fulfilling their needs by making responsible choices (Schoo, 2008).

Further to this, empathy is also an important attribute to possess, writes Langelett. The author discusses how employees can be kept motivated while exploring empathy-based management. Langelett explains how the limbic system works together with stress hormones, thinking processes and emotional experiences; how they work together and relate to each other, in a straightforward manner. Beenan poses the example that when an individual may experience a negative emotional experience, this triggers the release of cortisol in our brains which inhibits or impairs our ability to think rationally. Langelett explains that in order to relate to a workforce, empathy is of paramount importance, which encourages motivation in team members. If team members feel that they are understood by their management, this supports the workforce’s ability to solve problems and perform at their best.

Stewart, (2012) outlines 10 Core Principles to support improving and/or creating a happy workforce.

The Happy Manifesto outlines 10 core principles to create a happy, productive workplace:

  1. Trust your people. Step out of approval mode. Instead, pre-approve and focus on supporting your people.
  2. Make your people feel good. Make this the focus of your management team.
  3. Give freedom within clear guidelines. People want to know what’s expected of them. But they want freedom to find the best way to achieve their goals.
  4. Be open and transparent. More information means people can take responsibility and ownership.
  5. Recruit for attitude, train for skill. Instead of qualifications and experience, recruit on attitude and potential ability.
  6. Celebrate mistakes. Create a no blame culture, to enable people to innovate without fear.
  7. Community: Create mutual benefit. Have a positive impact on the world and build your organisation too.
  8. Love work, get a life. The world, and your job, needs you well rested, well-nourished and well supported.
  9. Choose managers who are good at managing. Ensure your people are supported by somebody who is good at doing that. Find other routes of recognition for those who have other strengths. Even better, allow people to choose their managers.
  10. Play to your strengths. Make sure your people spend most of their time doing what they are best at.

Further details on Stewart’s core principles can be found here: The Happy Manifesto

In conclusion, a happy workforce is a productive workforce; it facilitates staff retention, lowers numbers in sick days taken, results in high productivity and positive outcomes. With high energy and enthusiasm, individuals are more likely to experience job satisfaction resulting in a happy workforce.

Zevo Health provides a range of workplace wellbeing trainings that are designed to increase the health, happiness, and wellbeing of employees. These trainings are researched and created by wellbeing specialists to ensure every participant gains something valuable from these workshops that they can adapt to their everyday lives.


Coo, C., & Salanova, M. (2018). Mindfulness Can Make You Happy-and-Productive: A Mindfulness Controlled Trial and Its Effects on Happiness, Work Engagement and Performance. Journal Of Happiness Studies 19:1691–1711

Glasser, W. (1994). The control theory manager. New York: HarperCollins.

Langelett, G. (2014). How Do I Keep My Employees Motivated?: The Practice of Empathy-Based Management. Greenleaf Book Group: USA

Schaufeli, W. B., & Bakker, A. B. (2004). Job demands, job resources, and their relationship with burnout and engagement: A multi-sample study. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 25(3), 293–315. doi:10. 1002/job.248.

Schoo, A. (2008). Leaders and Their Teams: Learning to Improve Performance with Emotional Intelligence and Using Choice Theory. International Journal of Reality Therapy. Vol.27 (2). Pp. 40-45.

Stewart, H. (2012). The Happy Manifesto: Make your organization a great place to work – now! Happy: Great Britain

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