The “Happiness” Hype

Coca-Cola-Choose-Happiness.-What-Are-You-Waiting-For-1080p-0.000I wonder who came up with this bizarre concept of organizations focusing on making employees ‘happy’ and why it’s suddenly taken center stage. I stumbled upon a recent survey that claimed 61% of respondents say happiness at work is more important than the salary. I’d like to understand just how the respondents defined happiness. It’s not just this 120 respondent survey; happiness at work seems to have taken over the airwaves.

Forgive me if I do not buy into this madness. To begin with, the definition of happiness has been studied for an insanely long time and the result is still inconclusive. To quote Wikipedia (as much as I know the unreliability of the source), “Happiness is a fuzzy concept.” What makes a person happy varies from individual to individual. If we were to go by the aforementioned survey, a drink after work would go a long way in making me happy. Would it make me productive? I don’t know. Yet, the general assumption seems to be that a happy employee is an engaged employee and hence, a productive employee. What a joke!

I can give you plenty of examples of happy and content employees at the workplace who border very close to the bottom of the pile. They are comfortably seated next to the exit door. I could pour them a few drinks, encourage them to play games, give them a best friend and it’s highly likely that they be just as productive as they are today.

Happiness is the responsibility of the employee. Engagement is a joint responsibility of the organization and the employee. A happy employee is not an engaged employee. These are not replaceable terms. Don’t get me wrong. I like happy employees at the workplace. I prefer them any day to the grumpy ones. I will also go as far as to say that happiness is important and it is impossible to be unhappy and engaged at the same time. However, happiness is an individual charter.

Let’s get engagement right and then we’ll focus on happiness. In fact, I can come up with multiple charters that you can put between engagement and happiness. How about positivity? We could use that trend.

The “Happiness” hype looks a lot like a marketing gimmick. If the world is bored of the ‘E’ word and decided to bring in something new, I’d rather it be ‘positivity at the workplace.’ Again, positivity does not equal happiness does not equal engagement.

What do you think? Would you pick happiness over your salary? Damn right, you will. What a silly question.


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