This article was published in IOD Direction Spring 2018

A successful business is what all of us reading this article aspire to. We want the important advantage over our competitors. The goal is to achieve higher revenue and profits, which means on a personal level we earn more and can buy the bigger house, faster car and the travels we dreamt of. That is what we are aiming for, that will make us happy, right?

Over the years the formula that has been communicated is; “Be successful then you become happy and have a wonderful life.” But the wind has changed direction and research now carries another message – that happiness is a big prerequisite for success and not the other way around. We have all received the terrifying reports on mental health and the status of our wellbeing. The list of how this affects your business can be long but let’s focus on something that is obvious – how that affects your business.

The loss of 105 million workdays in the UK at a cost of £1.24bn a year. 

With over ten years of experience coaching leaders, I have repeatedly seen the important connection between business and life and how they both need to be viewed as equally important ingredients to real success.  A joyful and happy marriage feeds success in business. When the leaders I coach can see the link themselves, they always come back with inspiring reports of how their changed focus from numbers to the people behind every paycheck increased business in a new way. They began to focus on cultivating a positive work environment and staff began to be more motivated

Studies show that it pays to make employees happier. For example, sales improve by 37% cross-industry and productivity by 31% if you focus on creating a positive work environment.  You are 40% more likely to receive a promotion and you get staff who are nearly ten times more engaged at work. It even shows that we live longer if we enjoy coming to work.

But, how to create a business that breathes happiness and success?

Achieve success through fostering a business culture focused on well-being, remember that happiness begins with the leadership. Your job as a leader is not only to create the conditions that enable and encourage these initiatives but also to lead by example.

Good relations and close work friendship boost employee satisfaction by 50%. So, if it is a long time since you created space for your employees to connect, make room for weekday breaks, bringing staff together over a drink and a social activity. If you have staff with home-related problems, pay for a counsellor.

Fundraising initiatives can help people connect with one another too, and by investing time in others, the research shows that the individual giving of their time becomes happier and values their own life more.

91% of leaders in purpose-driven companies felt their companies would strengthen or maintain their brand in the next 5-10 years compared to just 49% of their counterparts. As a leader, you need to know what truly motivates you and why your business does what it does.  Share this with the people who show up to work every day to support your vision. Let them know why you are in business and why they come to work every morning.

Your biggest asset is not your product or your service.  It is the people within your company. So, one of your most important responsibilities is making your employees feel truly valued, letting them know that without them, your company, your department—and frankly, you—would be worse off.

Happy, indeed, is the new rich.