This week kicks off the holiday season, and you may be concerned about the affect all the distractions will have on your and employees’ productivity (shopping, parties, cooking, decorating, traveling—there’s a lot of non-work stuff to coordinate). But actually, the holidays—Thanksgiving in particular—can positively influence the workplace.
Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage and one of the 20 most-watched TED-talks titled “The Happy Secret to Better Work”, points out that most companies have the success formula wrong. It’s pretty ingrained in us that:
harder work=more success=happiness
The problem? What do we do when employees (or we personally) work hard and hit a goal? We move the goal a little further away. So success (and eventually happiness) is always a goal that’s just beyond the next milestone. It doesn’t work!
Instead, Achor says being happy leads to increased success. And his research proves it. Among other things, he found that happy, positive employees are 31 percent more productive and have 37 percent better sales. In short, people who are positive work harder, faster, and more intelligently.
So how can you help yourself and employees be more positive in the workplace? And why is Thanksgiving the perfect time to do it? Consider some of Achor’s tips:
Write three unique gratitudes daily. Seems like something you might do this time of year anyway, right? Simply start a doc on your computer and jot down three things you’re grateful for that day. Maybe a coworker got a document to you more quickly than you expected, or your boss is a really understanding person. Your gratitudes don’t even have to be work-related. Maybe you’re grateful that your barista spelled your name right on your coffee cup. No matter how large or small, write down three things you’re grateful for each day. Achor says that this will retrain your brain to scan the world around you for the positive instead of the negative.
Commit random or conscious acts of kindness. Surely you’ve read a little about reward and recognition in the workplace and all its proven benefits. Achor gives a really simple suggestion for this one: He suggests you simply write a “thank you” email when you first open your email in the morning. Genuinely thank that coworker for sending you that document early. Single out a really positive coworker and let them know you admire them. Or, if you don’t want to write an email, make (or buy) a treat to bring in. Or pick up the tab for someone else at lunch. It’ll make you and the recipient feel great.
Meditate. Work is crazy. Life is crazy—especially this time of year. How often do you take the time to sit quietly and process your thoughts and emotions? Meditating increased productivity by 120 percent in one case study. Block out a little time in your day to retreat to your office or a conference room and reflect what is going on internally. Jot it down or process quietly.
Stop waiting to be happy until you reach a certain goal or job title or salary. Change your mindset and be happy now to increase your ability to be successful. Achor says that making the changes like the ones above can rewire your brain in 30 days. So here’s your challenge: It’s Thanksgiving. Find a few things to be thankful for the next 30 days. Commit a few acts of kindness, and give yourself a little time each day to meditate and acknowledge what’s going on in your life. Being happy will help you be more successful. And if you still don’t buy it, check out this infographic by Noomii: