With two waves of the pandemic behind us, organisations are no longer strangers to the relevance of their employees’ mental well-being. As the world’s workforce retreated to their homes to work remotely while battling personal challenges, it made it more crucial than ever that the employers reached out to them beyond the premise of their job descriptions.
Even then, many of them are still stuck mapping mental wellbeing and happiness against work commitment, team work, and life at office/during work. Companies have believed high employee engagement levels lead to happy employees. But that is not all.
Factoring in how employers feel outside of business hours and most importantly, as individuals with their own set of life-hurdles, can no longer be ignored after the pandemic. But employers don't always have the wherewithal to delve that deep.
Google defines ‘employee engagement’ as “the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organisation, and put discretionary effort into their work.” But our state of happiness is a state of being where we feel positive and have an overall sense of satisfaction towards life. The yardsticks for feeling happy have to be tied to good health, feeling safe, financial stability, being part of a community in addition to a good place of work. A happy individual is likely to maintain good relationships, be more productive and healthier.
Challenging the norm
Being happy is beyond feeling good. A happy person does not deny negative emotions, instead they learn to cope with such feelings. A sense of contentment about life ensures a healthier person who is more resilient, develops good relationships and is likely to make happiness contagious. To an individual, it gives purpose and meaning to life at a very personal level.
Since the pandemic began, organisations have been forced to reassess how they remain connected with their employees. With work from home becoming a standard working style, it has caused the lines between home and office to blur. Both lives have overlapped and that has led to companies looking at a more holistic approach to create a positive environment at workplaces. But when homes are the workplace and our lives are riddled with anxiety and loss across the board, what can employers do to help?
Happiness is a science and research has helped understand how human well-being and a fulfilling life are linked.
- While exploring scientific methods and habits that affect individual happiness, I have come across six dimensions of happiness. An individual can lead a wonderful life by following this wheel and achieve a higher happiness quotient:-
- Timescale – Training our mind to be comfortable about the past, content in the present and hopeful of the future.
- Our Being – Prioritising mental health along with physical health, especially in these times, enables a conscious effort towards well-being.
- Achievements – Realising goals and achieving small/ big victories through determination and hard work gives us a sense of purpose and self-worth.
- Relationships – As social animals, forging deep and lasting relationships and interactions based on love, trust and respect has a significant impact on our happiness quotient.
- Worklife – On average, we spend 75 percent of our lives working. Nurturing our talent and interest helps create an identity and a mode to express ourselves.
- Meaningfulness – Contributing to a larger purpose and change towards the betterment of society and the less-privileged will not only make us feel good about our contribution, but also add a meaning to our life.
These dimensions reveal new perspectives on what affects an individual, and help companies understand their employees more deeply.
No more a silo
While following a scientific method may be unconventional for any organisation, if they truly believe in the happiness of their employees, they are likely to explore such techniques. However, companies cannot be held responsible for an individual’s happiness.
While everyone continues to struggle with the pandemic, how does one become happy? In the new world system, creating happiness is like building muscles.
Just as we need to exercise regularly to build muscles, similarly to experience happiness, we need to work on it bit by bit. As an individual, we are responsible for our happiness, and the sooner we realise it, the better it is for everyone around us.
But coming back to the role employers can play, companies can partake in cultural changes, creating a positive and encouraging work environment that genuinely supports employees to develop healthy habits for better mental and physical health.
The introduction of programmes for mental health, break-out sessions on scientific positive-habit formation, wellness rituals and the right knowledge about happiness and wellbeing can help individuals get a break from work stress. Of course, it can only work in tandem with personal efforts.
To play their part in the pursuit of their happiness, employees can explore or revive hobbies, spend quality time with their family, and dedicate time towards boosting their health. With the pandemic far from being over, consistent efforts towards good mental health is essential and taking expert help where required is vital.
True happiness can be achieved by working together and not in silos. It is a new world and a new normal, so the onus is on us to create new ways to be happy.