EDITOR’S LETTER Smile, You’re At Work

What relevance does happiness have when it comes to workplace productivity? Does the economic wellbeing of the nation depend on our collective happiness quotient? Should work, indeed, be fun? These were some of the questions that writer Vicki Jayne set out to explore in this month’s cover story “Don’t worry, be happy” which starts on page 28 of this issue.
For much debate in recent times has centred around aspects as diverse as neuro-immunology and psychological warfare. Links have been drawn between sporting prowess and the “happy gene”. Buddhist monks have submitted to magnetic resonance scanning as science tries to grasp the power of religion. Yet little has been produced about what happiness may mean in business context – much less New Zealand one.
In her research, Jayne discovered that, bit like smile, happiness is hard to pin down. What exactly did people mean by the term? Was it simply another word for employee satisfaction? What is the difference between happiness and resilience? Ultimately, there are no hard and fast rules. The lexicon of business has not been cemented into place. Different practitioners use variety of terms for what may, or may not, be the same thing.
What we do know, is that employers wanting to both attract and retain the best people are fast cottoning on to the power of happier workforce. As Jayne writes in her article: “While economic productivity was once squeezed from workers largely at the expense of their health and happiness, now the flow is reversing and links are being made between employee satisfaction and company’s bottom-line success.”
The idea of happiness, of course, dovetails neatly with the philosophies driving many of the winners of this year’s EEO Trust Awards. From supermarkets to surveyors, at their core they all share rock-solid belief that their people are their greatest strength. They all centre their daily activities around ensuring their people can be both productive and happy.
An observation on this year’s awards from EEO Trust chief executive Philippa Reed: these organisations make sure they are flexible enough to be able to meet the needs of both employer and individual. Their stories form the basis for our article “Celebrating diversity” on page 36 of this issue. It’s heart-warming, inspirational and thoroughly practical reading.

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