Find it…


International Day of Happiness, you missed it. It was 20th March.

The world’s most happy country… sorry, you’re living in the wrong place. Finland is first.

We are number 19, behind Costa Rica and the USA.

It seems national wealth or world dominance doesn’t add very much. Apparently, it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it.

Happy at work? I seem to remember a Gallup Poll suggesting, for nearly 80% of us, work is something to be endured not enjoyed.

Don’t mix vocation with satisfaction. It’s highly likely the stronger the sense of vocation, the greater the chance of being dissatisfied with the work.

If we’re going to start the week with good intentions and why not, we could start thinking about happiness.

Is that a flakey, fey thought?

As organisations face ruinous regulation, crippling cash shortages and woeful workforce planning… can we be happy.

More important, can we make other people happy?

I think we know; people who are happy in their work stay in-post for longer, take less time off-sick and are likely to be more innovative and creative.

How do we go about it?

Let’s go back to vocation. It would be wrong to think that people who work in the NHS, elsewhere than the bedside, have any less a sense of vocation, than those who do. It’s a lot about purpose.

There is a strong sense of purpose in the NHS.

People know they are part of something more than a ‘normal’ job. The NHS is a social movement of people who are aligned with the purpose of the NHS. It is important to us all, for personal reasons.

People working in the NHS feel strongly about equality, diversity and fairness. That’s why financial incentives don’t really work in the and why, in the log run, targets fail.

Obliging staff to bust-a-gut to see to it that someone with a broken toe is speeded through A&E at the same rate as a heart-attack is the wrong way to motivate highly-skilled staff.

Hopefully, that’s a lesson we have learned and will be able to move-on from.

The point is, our sense of purpose has to be linked to something meaningful and important. Purpose is nailed in and not nailed on.

Being part of the decision making process is an important part of feeling fulfilled at work. It’s called engagement.

People love change where they feel they are in-charge. Not everyone can be, but we can all be consulted and part of the conversation.

Self managed teams, the likes of Buurtzorg, have high levels of engagement.

Dutton and Wrzesniewski talk of job-crafting; ‘…to capture the actions employees take to shape, mould and redefine their jobs.’

Unlike the NHS, that looks at workers as Band 5, Band-whatever… job-crafting is a model where the job is defined around what needs to be done.

It is creative and improvised in much the same way a start-up entrepreneur might approach running a business.

In our terms it would mean swapping multi-disciplinary for multi-skilling. Prescribing-OTs and physios, nurse specialists are good examples… but not ubiquitous.

Enjoying work impacts resilience. The fact the NHS spends so much time on resilience tells you there is something really wrong with our workplace.

All workplaces have their challenges, disappointments and failures, it is the ability to deal with them with grace and truth that is important…

… authentic managers are able to do that. The bad ones resort to bullying.

Finally, there is kindness. People are naturally kind, they will help if they are asked.

When they come to work they aren’t asked, they are told, regulated, measured, obliged and pressured to deliver a task to please someone who has to please someone, who has to please someone… they have never met.

Empathy, dignity, compassion, gratitude, saying please. Sorry isn’t a such a bad word. Apologies aren’t a sign of weakness, they build trust.

Feeling appreciated is a big part of happiness. There’s a back that need patting, go and find it.

Enjoy your week!

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Reproduced at by kind permission of Roy Lilley.