The Research We’ve Ignored About Happiness at Work

shovel to dig on the farm

This is a good read, with plenty of sources for further exploration. I think the very term happiness invites failure. We can’t reliably pursue something so poorly defined, and so dependent on the individual and her environment.

Most of us understand we cannot pursue joy, that transient gift we experience as a sort of gift from the cosmos. Why do we pursue something as grand and insubstantial as happiness, when we can approach more measurable phenomena, productivity for example, and the many aspects of productivity that can be independently measured to some degree?

Do we want people to be happy? Sure we do, despite our inability to define what that means. But we have a lot of evidence for what helps people want to come to work, across personality and other categories. People want to feel challenged, to feel that their efforts matter in the pursuit of some worthy goal, and to feel they’re a respected part of a team. These are fairly well defined and universal aspects of work that good companies can and do pursue.

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