CUNA Corner

'The Happiness Advantage'

May 18, 2012
/ PRINT / ShareShare / Text Size +

Build staff’s social support

One way to augment employee positivity is to develop the organization’s social support system. Achor recalls a Harvard study that found social support was the best predictor of happiness during times of high stress, with a 0.71 correlation—higher than the link between smoking and cancer (0.37).

People in the top quartile of giving social support at work were 10 times more engaged than the bottom quartile, says Achor. They were also 40% more likely to be promoted within two years.

“If you give to the social support you reap an advantage not only in terms of happiness, but a financial one as well,” says Achor.

Some simple ways Achor advises organizations to improve their social support systems: help employees when they’re behind in their work, organize lunches, and set up other social engagements.

Even small changes can improve the happiness of others, he adds.

“The more we smile, the more optimistic we are, and the more we’re positive actually ripples out to other people around us—our coworkers, our family members, and our clients,” Achor says.

It’s also important to remember you’re in charge of your own happiness.

“Happiness is a choice,” says Achor. “The research is clear; you’re not controlled just by your genes. So if you make a positive habit change you can raise your levels of happiness.

“Happiness,” he says, “is actually the greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy.”

Shawn Achor will address the America’s Credit Union Conference in San Diego, June 17-20. Click here for more information.


Click here to submit a book review or recommendation.


Post a comment to this story


What's Popular

Popular Stories

Recent Discussion

Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Your Say: Who should be Credit Union Magazine's 2014 CU Hero of the Year?

View Results Poll Archive