In Happiness at Work: Maximizing Your Psychological Capital for Success Jessica Pryce-Jones and her colleagues at i-opener have researched 'happiness' at work and offer us both evidence of its impact on 'hard' business measures and a deeper understanding of what creates happiness so that we might begin to measure and manage it - paying attention to the psychological capital in our teams and organisations.
She makes the case for happiness to be seen as a larger concept, with more reliable impact on success, than measures such as 'job satisfaction' or 'engagement' that have previously served this purpose. Jessica presents the findings of the research in a way that will be of use both to the individual seeking to manage their own happiness and to leaders, coaches and consultants working to make teams and organisations more successful.
Jessica starts the book by making the case for happiness to be of concern to business leaders - pointing out that the source of financial gains is in the psychological capital of the people in the business. The research evidences the link between 'happiness' and success in work for the individual and their productivity for the organisation, using the proxy measures of reported happiness and reported time 'on task'. She goes on to describe happiness at work as 'a mindset which allows you to maximise performance and achieve your potential. You do this by being mindful of the highs and lows when working alone or with others'. For me the most important words in this description are 'mindset' and 'mindful' – it rings true to my personal and professional experience that people who deliberately invest in their own happiness and are able to accurately assess and manage their emotions rather than being captured or disabled by them are most able to remain productive in a variety of circumstances. They are likely to identify and seek out work that genuinely satisfies them, in organisations that meet their needs.
The book goes on to present a 5 factor model of the components of 'Happiness': Contribution, Conviction, Confidence, Commitment and Culture. 'Achieving your Potential' is shown at the heart of the model, whilst Pride and Trust in the Organisation and the Recognition you receive from it are shown as supporting or draining your 'Happiness'.
Neither in her description of the model, nor in the book generally, does Jessica make the mistake of over simplifying or dismissing the complexity of managing happiness - this is not a 'quick fix self help' book. However the illustrations and quotes are plentiful, and varied enough to allow most readers to focus on those that have meaning to them and relevance to their situation. And the 'Take Aways' at the end of each chapter are helpful in summarising the ideas presented.
As a coach working with leaders in organisations I have found the i-opener approach a useful way to work with individual clients around their personal happiness in the context of their performance in the organisation, and to work with teams to increase their 'Readiness' to change. (This refers to the Jericho Change Model in which 'Readiness' refers to the ability to act on insights into threats and opportunities that we currently face or which are emerging and create new ways of working to increase our success.)
Reviewed by Diane Newell, Managing Partner at Jericho Partners. www.jerichopartners.co.uk