A Sense of Workplace Belonging
Work can—and should be—an opportunity to improve our happiness and satisfaction in life. Period. End of sentence. Duh. And yes, even if work is hard as there are true “hard parts” to workplace happiness but what’s happening in our work is just the opposite.
Instead of adding to our happiness, most people are stressed out, burned out or bored out (of their minds) with their work. According to recent research by SHRM, only “1 in 3 U.S. workers say their job has a positive impact on their mental health and 1 in 3 U.S. workers say their job has had a negative impact on their mental health in the past six months.” Workplace mental health, well-being and happiness are obviously interconnected.
In the discipline of positive psychology, Dr. Martin Seligman developed a model for well-being called PERMA. PERMA is an acronym and work can contribute positively mental-health, well-being and happiness. Let’s explore a bit about how PERMA can be found in our workplace environment.
Employees should feel positive emotions, understand where positive emotions come from, how we receive or create positive emotions in ourselves (and others) and just as importantly, why those feelings naturally go away. Engagement in our work is a deeper form of happiness—and it often feels good, in retrospect. When we grow and develop new skills, there is a normal and healthy type of stress called challenge stress. This type of stress can be felt as we take on new challenges, duties, tasks and leadership roles.
Relationships at work matter now more than in any time in recent workplace history. The new Surgeon General’s report on loneliness and isolation shares alarming trends in social disconnection which were trending down in the decades before the pandemic and obviously worsened due to our efforts to isolate.
Humans have a deep desire to belong, to matter and to uniquely contribute to something larger than themselves. Social connection from workplaces adds a powerful layer of connection in our lives and can in part fulfill that desire to belong. Employees engage with their work more deeply when they sense how they uniquely contribute to team success.
Workplaces are taking note of the importance of workplace well-being and the resulting improvements in engagement, recruitment and retention: a clear cut, win-win for the employer, employee and those your business serves.
The phrase Environment Social Governance—aka ESG—has gained a lot of momentum in recent years. And the “S” for Social is about investing internally in workplace well-being, and also externally in the communities where these companies operate. And some third-party accrediting agencies are formalizing what determines if a business is making substantial investments in ESG. Work can be so much more than just work and leaders are coming around to this idea that investing in our teams is investing in their happiness and their success and addressing a community ill of isolation.
How does your workplace impact your well-being, happiness and sense of belonging? Try this free workplace culture survey. You’ll see the areas where your culture is strong—and discover areas where shifts can be made to maximize the potential for enhancing well-being and happiness in the workplace.