Americans are becoming more unhappy in their daily lives—but authentic business leadership can provide a solution that creates joy and increases productivity among employees.
- Values like patriotism, religion, hard work, and family-building were declining among younger generations, a study released by The Wall Street Journal revealed.
- Among the statistics, the study found that only 12% of Americans describe themselves as “very happy,” the lowest percentage in 51 years. A 2022 Oracle study found 45% of people had not experienced true happiness since the beginning of the pandemic.
- Conversely, a 2017 study of business leaders found that entrepreneurship was correlated with happiness. It shows that 81% to 94% of entrepreneurs are happy with their lives.
- Oracle similarly found that happiness is a powerful business tool. 72% of consumers prefer funny brands rather than competitive ones, but 95% of business leaders fear using humor in their daily interactions.
- A 2019 Oxford University study finds that happy workers are 13% more productive.
Why It’s Important
Happiness is, paradoxically, a serious issue. People need to live meaningful lives where they feel that success is earned and where they feel connected to others. This is especially true in the workplace, where people spend the majority of their waking hours collaborating and interacting with people they spend more time with than their immediate family members.
This creates a notable challenge for business leaders, who have a responsibility to manage teams and companies in addition to fostering a healthy company culture and work environment. The benefits of doing so can greatly warrant the time and effort put into it, creating a company filled with happy, highly motivated, and productive employees.
Dr. Shannan Crawford is a clinical psychologist in Texas who helps business leaders build happy and healthy workplaces that foster creativity, innovation, high performance, and affirmation. She argues that the key to fostering happiness in the workplace comes from “authentic happiness.”
“With unhappy leaders, the work experience is miserable, bland, and dry, and nobody wants to go to work. Employees appreciate happiness with authenticity. We don’t always want leaders who are always chipper and happy because life isn’t always that way. Workers want happy people who are authentic, who can hold space, be sad, and engage emotionally. The blindspot is artificial happiness, which people do not resonate with. People want joy and a consistent sense of well-being in the soul,” says Dr. Crawford.
Unhappiness and challenges in the workplace are endemic to any workplace populated by humans. Employees may only sometimes acknowledge problems or seek solutions, but problems will arise among people naturally and frequently. Dr. Crawford addresses these problems through corrective experiences, meeting with teams regularly, and creating spaces for discussing difficult emotional issues with honesty, which she says produces the best team results, boosting morale and profitability.
“We all have a bit of shame in hiding and defending ourselves. As leaders, we have a false self, and we’re trying to project authority and confidence. Without realizing it, we’re not leading from our most brilliant, creative, and joyful selves because we’re so unconsciously driven to remove ourselves from our worth and value. By osmosis, people around us put on that mask as well and do not lead authentically. I search for unconscious beliefs and dynamics, learn how to foster solutions and resolve the original lies that caused them. We want to identify which parts of us aren’t showing up and what are our inner saboteurs,” she says.
“Happiness is creating a culture where people show up authentically and joyfully; it allows us to hold hope through crazy and disruptive daily challenges. Happiness is an ecosystem with a vision. We live authentically now, but we have a sense that things are going to be okay while grounding responses in the present,” says Dr. Crawford.