Work is often seen as an impersonal chore – something completed for gain at a future date, but this does not in fact have to be the case. What can we do to be happier at work, and why is this good for us? Mindfulness consultant Andy Hix writes.
Workplaces have a tendency to be a bit loveless. Not the one I work in, which is wonderful, but many of them do. They tend to be characterised by the following conditions:
Fear of screwing up, missing a deadline, dropping the ball to such an extent that you get into trouble with the boss or client.
A friend described to me how amongst the senior executives at his company, people competed to have a bigger office chair or a more expensive company car than the next person. He found this meaningless and quit. At charities I’ve seen it manifest as a competition for who cares the most about the cause and is most willing to sacrifice themselves for it.
There’s also often a competition for who can work the longest hours, answer emails the quickest and the latest at night. Maybe also a competition over pay and bonuses.
The ship is on a certain course and even if its route is causing devastation, it’s too scary to be the one that tells the captain to turn around.
These conditions are not conducive to anyone’s happiness or the success of the company financially.
So what would it look like to work more lovingly – that is to say, with concern for your own and others’ happiness?
It’s so important for us to feel connected to why we’re doing things. Before you do any task, ask yourself what the reason is – what meaning it has for you. If it has none for you, it’s unlikely to be worth doing.
It’s sometimes said that Darwin’s theory was mischaracterised as ‘survival of the fittest’ – a better summary would be ‘survival of the most co-operative’. As an individual human, wandering in nature, we were pretty useless: not particularly big, fast, or strong. We survived because we helped each other.
In the Hub Islington, where I work, most people run their own companies or are freelancers, so there’s no sense of trying to climb the greasy pole faster than the other. Neither do we fear the boss catching us out for slacking or going on Facebook. We enjoy sharing skills, advice and ideas to help each other with different challenges.
The place closes at 6.30pm on the dot, which encourages you to get everything finished by that time. We Brits work more hours than German workers and it doesn’t make us more productive. In fact, British workers are 20 per cent less productive than German – it takes us until Friday to finish what they would finish by Thursday.
It’s an act of self-love to allow yourself time for fun, rest and relaxation rather than feeling like you need to regularly keep working into the evening. What’s the prize for the person that does the longest hours? Possibly a break down.
The old-fashioned view is that work is something rather grim that you do so that you’ve got money to do the things that make you happy when it’s finished. In fact, happy workers are 30 per cent more productive, 54 per cent more likely to stay at the company and 3x more creative.
If you’re not happy at work, you’re doing a disservice to both yourself and the company. If you want your colleagues to thrive, why not make your first thought when you see them “I wish for you to be happy”. Desiring your clients to be happy is a far surer way of them giving you lots of business than focusing on trying to make money out of them.
So for the sake of happiness, performance and work/life balance, let’s have a lot more love in the boardroom!
If you’d like more love in your workplace, get in touch with Andy Hix for a free taster session to experience how mindfulness can help.