I am sure that most of us have wondered what our life purpose should be. After a crisis, or when someone dear to us has departed, we may find ourselves revising our life project and the steps which are supposed to lead us to success. Perhaps we then realize all our efforts are headed towards an ultimate goal: happiness.
As Aristotle said: “Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the aim and end of human existence.” I used to think that success lead to happiness; however, happiness can in fact, be the key to success.
This reframing of ideas is very important for the corporate world. Happiness can have an enormous impact in the business context, since it is connected to engagement and productivity. According to The Business Case for Happiness published by the Stanford Graduate School of Business, employee happiness leads to higher productivity, increased generation of innovative ideas, fewer sick days, higher income, favorable evaluations from supervisors, and a more supportive workplace. Furthermore, the Gallup Organization found that unhappy employees tend to disengage. They cost the American economy up to $350 billion a year in lost productivity.
The question now is: how do we foster a work environment that boosts happiness? There is no silver bullet for building a supportive, inclusive company where employees feel happy and fulfilled; however, allow me to share some insights that have proven useful in this endeavor:
1. Compensation is not everything. Good income is, without a doubt, important for life satisfaction, but only to a certain extent. According to the 2017 World Happiness Report, better incomes can improve happiness, especially in low-income sectors, but cooperation and community are key motivators. Promote a corporate culture that values cooperation, equality, and gives your employees a sense of belonging.
2. Share a meaningful mission. Having an impact in the world while feeling that you are part of a higher purpose makes you feel valuable. These are all predictors of happiness in the workplace. Make sure all your employees understand the mission of the company, and are aligned with the values of the corporation. Develop programs for regular acknowledgement, including peer-recognition programs, which are known to have an even greater impact. Research from Deloitte has shown that companies where recognition is entrenched in their culture have on average a 31% lower turnover.
3. Allow growth. Employees feel most engaged when they are given autonomy and perceive themselves as being in control of their future. Make sure your employees learn new skills and assign time and places to share new ideas or suggest improvements. Provide training, and help employees plan their career paths.
4. Foster integration of work and life. Work-life balance is the strongest workplace driving force for an individual’s wellbeing. Flexible and remote work schemes and any other incentives that let employees integrate different areas of their lives without conflict, will make them happier and more productive.
5. Positive relationships. Interpersonal relationships are at the core of a good team. Empower your leaders and managers and nurture relationships through communication and conflict management. People thrive in a supportive and inclusive environment.
Happiness comes from within, but it is much easier to feel happy in a positive work environment. Embrace happiness as a key element of your corporate culture!
Angélica Fuentes, Founder Equal Invest
Angélica Fuentes is a Latin American businesswoman and impact investor, who has been recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of Mexico’s most influential women.
Ms. Fuentes was appointed CEO of Grupo Imperial in 1992 and quickly positioned the company as a top player in Northern Mexico’s energy sector. Under her leadership, Grupo Imperial’s annual growth rate increased from 5% in 1992 to 9.5% in 2005. Ms. Fuentes served as President of the Business Energy Network of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Agreement (APEC) from 2002 to 2004, and as President of the Mexican Natural Gas Association from 1996 to 2000. From 2007 to 2015, she served as CEO of Grupo Omnilife-Angelissima-Chivas. Under her leadership, the company became one of the top 100 corporations in Mexico.
Throughout her career, Ms. Fuentes has dedicated significant time and resources to NGOs, international organizations and professional groups that support the cause of women. She participated in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Parity Programme, and led the Mexican Gender Parity Taskforce. She currently serves on Secretary Clinton’s International Council on Women’s Business Leadership; is member of the Private Sector Leadership Advisory Council of UN Women; is a Global Advocate for the Girl Up Campaign, a United Nations Foundation program; co-chairs the PVBLIC LATAM regional platform; is member of the Latin American Program Advisory Board of the Woodrow Wilson International Center; and is member of the Global Dignity’s International Council of Advisors.
Her work in this field has been recognized by numerous honors and awards. In 2015, UN Women gave her the Women’s Empowerment Principles CEO Leadership Award; she was the first female CEO to receive this award for championing gender equality in the private sector. In 2016, PVBLIC Foundation, Ismael Cala Foundation, and the United Nations gave her the award for Latin Woman Empowerment. In 2017, she received the Corporate Social Responsibility Award from The Maestro Cares Foundation.
Gender equality, women empowerment and the eradication of poverty have always been a priority in all her endeavors. In 2014, she established the Angelica Fuentes Foundation. In 2016, she founded A Complete and The Imperative Fund. In 2017, she founded Equal Invest, The Beauty Station and A Complete Journey.