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A summary of the article what really works in the harvard business review

Happy employees are more productive, more creative, and better at problem solving than their unhappy peers. In this article, Achor lays out three strategies for improving your own mental well-being at work. Three ways individuals can cultivate their own sense of well-being and set themselves up to succeed.

In this kind of high-pressure situation, many leaders pester their deputies with frequent meetings or flood their in-boxes with urgent demands. He asked me to facilitate a three-hour session with employees on happiness in the midst of the expansion effort. Research shows that when people work with a positive mind-set, performance on nearly every level—productivity, creativity, engagement—improves. Yet happiness is perhaps the most misunderstood driver of performance. For one, most people believe that success precedes happiness.

In fact, it works the other way around: People who cultivate a positive mind-set perform better in the face of challenge. In a meta-analysis of academic studies, researchers Sonja Lyubomirsky, Laura King, and Ed Diener found strong evidence of directional causality between life satisfaction and successful business outcomes. Another common misconception is that our genetics, our environment, or a combination of the two determines how happy we are.

To be sure, both factors have an impact.

The habits you cultivate, the way you interact with coworkers, how you think about stress—all these can be managed to increase your happiness and your chances of success.

Develop New Habits Training your brain to be positive is not so different from training your muscles at the gym. Recent research on neuroplasticity—the ability of the brain to change even in adulthood—reveals that as you develop new habits, you rewire the brain. Engaging in one brief positive exercise every day for as little as three weeks can have a lasting impact, my research suggests.

I am an optimistic person, clearly. I asked them to choose one of five activities that correlate with positive change: Jot down three things they were grateful for.

Write a positive message to someone in their social support network. Meditate at their desk for two minutes. Exercise for 10 minutes. Take two minutes to describe in a journal the most meaningful experience of the past 24 hours. The participants performed their activity every day for three weeks. Several days after the training concluded, we evaluated both the participants and a control group to determine their general sense of well-being.

How engaged were they? When we tested both groups again, four months later, the experimental group still showed significantly higher scores in optimism and life satisfaction.

Just one quick exercise a day kept these tax managers happier for months after the training program had ended.

Happiness had become habitual. That translates into a decrease in productivity of 15 days a year. In a study of service departments, Jennifer George and Kenneth Bettenhausen found that employees who score high in life satisfaction are significantly more likely to receive high ratings from customers. Help Your Coworkers Of the five activities described above, the most effective may be engaging positively with people in your social support network.

Strong social support correlates with an astonishing number of desirable outcomes. For instance, research by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Timothy Smith, and Bradley Layton shows that high levels of social support predict longevity as reliably as regular exercise does, and low social support is as damaging as high blood pressure.

The benefits of social support are not just physical. In a study of 1, students at Harvard that I conducted with Phil Stone and Tal Ben-Shahar, we found that social support was the greatest predictor of happiness during periods of high stress. That study focused on how much social support the students received. But in follow-on research I conducted in MarchI found that even more important to sustained happiness and engagement was the amount of social support the students provided.

For example, how often does a student help others when they are overwhelmed with work? How often does he initiate social interactions on the job? How does social support work in practice as a tool for employee happiness?

  1. For example, how often does a student help others when they are overwhelmed with work?
  2. Just one quick exercise a day kept these tax managers happier for months after the training program had ended.
  3. Yet happiness is perhaps the most misunderstood driver of performance. We educated 11,000 employees, leaders, and physicians about the impact of social support on the patient experience, and asked them to modify their behavior.
  4. Three ways individuals can cultivate their own sense of well-being and set themselves up to succeed. Happiness had become habitual.

We educated 11, employees, leaders, and physicians about the impact of social support on the patient experience, and asked them to modify their behavior. When employees walk within 10 feet of another person in the hospital, they must make eye contact and smile. When they walk within 5 feet, they must say hello. Social support appears to lead to not only happier employees but also more-satisfied clients.

Management Tip of the Day from HBR.org

Many companies offer training on how to mitigate stress, focusing on its negative health effects. The problem is, people then get stressed-out about being stressed-out. When I was working with Pfizer in FebruaryI asked senior managers to list the five experiences that most shaped who they are today. Nearly all the experiences they wrote down involved great stress—after all, few people grow on vacation. Stress is not just an obstacle to growth; it can be the fuel for it. Your attitude toward stress can dramatically change how it affects you.

In a study Alia Crum, Peter Salovey, and I conducted at UBS in the midst of the banking crisis and massive restructuring, we asked managers to watch one of two videos, the first depicting stress as debilitating to performance and the second detailing the ways in which stress enhances the human brain and body.

  • People who cultivate a positive mind-set perform better in the face of challenge;
  • How often does he initiate social interactions on the job?
  • That translates into a decrease in productivity of 15 days a year;
  • How does social support work in practice as a tool for employee happiness?
  • Research shows that when people work with a positive mind-set, performance on nearly every level—productivity, creativity, engagement—improves;
  • I am an optimistic person, clearly.

And those participants experienced a significant drop in health problems and a significant increase in happiness at work. Stress is an inevitable part of work. Choose one stress that you can control and come up with a small, concrete step you can take to reduce it. In this way you can nudge your brain back to a positive—and productive—mind-set. Developing new habits, nurturing your coworkers, and thinking positively about stress are good ways to start.