The focus on happiness at work is unhelpful and misses the point. Work isn’t about happiness, it’s about getting stuff done.
As my Dad once said to me, “If it was meant to be fun, they’d have called it ‘fun’, not ‘work’”.
I talk to audiences about how organisations can be more effective, productive, focused and sustainable. But most people are more interested in how work can make them happier.
The fact is that if, as a manager, you focus on making people happy in the workplace, you won’t be successful. You’ll never make everyone happy and you won’t do what’s required of you as a manager, i.e. make your organisation successful.
What we all need to focus on instead is how to make work better, both for organisations and for those that work within them. We need to focus on getting things done and on doing the right things.
Good work is good for people and for the organisations that employ them. Work that’s interesting, challenging and worthwhile is fulfilling. When people are focused, enabled and have the opportunity to learn and develop, they perform well. When they are trusted, supported, treated fairly and with respect they perform even better.
Giving people more freedom and flexibility at work is not about making people happy, it’s about motivating people to do their job to the best of their ability.
Paying people fairly for the work that they do is not about making them happy, it’s about taking pay off the table and letting them focus on work.
Creating a great place to work is not about making people happy, it’s about providing a work environment that’s conducive to high levels of performance.
So let’s stop trying to make people happy and instead develop great workplaces that enable people to perform. If that makes people happy that’s a good outcome, but by focusing on happiness first we’re totally missing the point.