The benefits of joy in the workplace

BY KELLARAY MILES
Business reporter
milesk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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Some life coaches have noted that one of the most important lessons that companies have learnt over time is that by encouraging and fostering a fun work environment and one that inspires employees to take joy in their work can reap enormous benefits. Happy employees are said to be loyal employees, and loyal employees can do amazing things

A job by nature is often not about fun or enjoyment, it often times involves hard work and putting your best foot forward in order to contribute to the success of your workplace and the bottom line productivity of the business. Dealing with the stresses of life and work on a daily basis can be very tedious, frustrating and even counterproductive. As such, it becomes very necessary to find that balance wherein we can deal with the stresses and pressures of a demanding life. Learning how to offset this by creating a great place to work, one characterised by happiness, then becomes vital as it is essential for an individual's sanity, their success and the success of the business.

“Joy in our lives is important”, so says Marguerite Orane, CEO of Free and Laughing Inc.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer she defines joy as being “an innate feeling of peace and well-being, despite what is happening around you”. She is of the view that while we are brought up to believe that something is wrong with being too happy, we are actually an expression of our best selves at this time.

“There is that Jamaican saying we were told as children, “chicken merry, hawk deh near”, that's what many of us have internalised, and nowhere is it more prevalent than at work. There, we are told, we must be “professional” which often means being straight-faced and serious. We do our best work and are most creative when we are joyful,” she stated.

She also agreed to the fact that a lack of joy in the workplace can infringe on productivity levels.

“Think of it, when you are miserable you cannot work at optimum levels, as such individual performance becomes affected. Similarly if everyone around you is unhappy and sour, this too will have a ripple effect on productivity levels. Collaboration and cooperation are also negatively affected when people do not enjoy working with each other,” she added.

Orane went further in referencing a January-February 2012 issue of the Harvard Business Review, which cited a research showing that “happy employees are 31 per cent more productive, their sales are 37 per cent higher and their creativity is three times higher”, thus concluding that there is a real value proposition for the bottom line when we have happy employees.

Orane, who is also the sister of Douglas Orane, a successful businessman and former CEO of GraceKennedy Company Limited, also shared that in her own business establishments she too stresses on the importance of having a happy work environment.

“I have designed my current business, Free and Laughing Inc, around joy — starting with the name. My workshops are joyful, and my coaching is as well. I have a morning practice that ensures that I start my work day joyfully. I view my clients with love, wanting only the best for them”, she said.

Nothing and no one is perfect, hence it will be impossible to have everybody happy at all times. She therefore reasoned that as measure in dealing with difficult people in the workplace, it's important to stay positive, eliminate labels and use what she calls “ feed-forward” to correct negative behaviours. Through this approach leaders can “take a non-threatening, low emotion conversation with the person to find out why they are behaving in this way, and how they can help them change”.

Also, in advising young and upcoming small businesses, she encouraged that they be clear on life and the vision they have for themselves and their businesses, as well as learning to manage relationships well and keep their staff happy so that they can play a role in offsetting growth for the business.

Orane will be a guest presenter at the Jamaica Summit of Excellence in Leadership and Business happening tomorrow at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel. She will present among some other key presenters from around the world. She urges leaders in business and government and others across society to attend the summit, so as to get very practical and thought-provoking insights and takeaways on how to start the work of improving their leaderships immediately.


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