New Podcast: Why Every Business Needs More “Downtime”
The subject of personal happiness is a critical question for business owners and managers who want to encourage a healthy and productive work culture.
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Society-wide blows to mental health and happiness are among the least tangible impacts of the pandemic era, but the knock-on effects of emotional imbalance will eventually affect every business which doesn’t prioritize the issue. Researchers like those at University of Chicago’s COVID Response Tracking Study are studying how pandemic stresses which began in 2020 and continue today have altered the anxiety levels of all Americans.
The subject of personal happiness is a critical question for business owners and managers who want to encourage a healthy and productive work culture...but before designing more formal emotional wellness programs, it’s valuable to ask, “how do we define happiness?” What are the pillars of emotional stability, and how can a business apply those concepts to support their workers?
Continuing a series of podcasts which examine how businesses can thrive by investing humanity into their brands, Miva’s Rick Wilson and Ecwid E-Commerce Show host Richard Otey identified 10 key aspects of happiness which can benefit a healthy work environment.
At the core of understanding human happiness is the principle that we have the ability to affect our emotions with the choices we make and the environments we enter. The scientific discipline “epigenetics” even explores how behavior and setting can actually rewire our DNA.
As 16% of the world’s businesses are now 100% remote, decisions about how to structure a workday and workplace are entering a grey area...but employers must factor in the emotional impact these choices have on employee emotional health.
Richard sums up the concept succinctly: “Make decisions that your future self will thank you for.” This applies to individuals and organizations.
2. Physical activity
Study after study has shown that physical activity promotes satisfaction and happiness. Sedentary lifestyles are linked to depression and other negative emotional conditions. This is certainly a concern for workforces that are planted in front of a screen all day. Businesses at any scale face the challenge of encouraging physical fitness as a normal part of a work week.
3. Dynamic and compound emotions
“Emotions are not a steady state,” Rick says. “They are a feedback loop of a series of small events which happen continuously. The state of happiness is more like a spectrum than a binary yes-no.”
Daily fears, setback, and struggles are normal. Happiness is not a destination that teams can arrive at permanently. It must be constantly nurtured, adapting processes as conditions change.
Self-awareness is a crucial component of emotional intelligence. Creating a positive emotional environment as a leader—or an individual—requires nearly constant self-check-ins, with honest assessment of how emotional “trends” are developing.
Formal examples of self-examination might include working with a therapist, or journaling every day. However this can also be achieved by simply allowing time and space for reflection on one’s own emotional state and its causes, as part of a leadership process.
“Course corrections” are an important part of the process of achieving happiness.
The typical small business owner might make dozens of decisions about their business every day. While some success or failure can be attributed to luck, leaders can maximize their results by staying in touch with the emotional outcome of any given choice, and then refining. Just like iterating a product, this is a process that is always in motion.
Maintaining happiness requires consistent healthy behavior over time, paired with the discipline to stick with emotional goals despite setbacks. This is physiological. Routine and consistency are powerful tools for addressing emotional imbalance.
“When some part of your day brings on a bad mood, it takes discipline in the moment to take a breath, re-center, and change your path,” Rick says.
7. Setting examples and following emotional leadership
We take our emotional cues from those around us, and model our own feelings for those we lead. A great executive may have a brilliant action plan for their products, but marketplace strategy must be paired with an awareness that workers also respond to an emotionally healthy workplace, even if they are working remote. Executives who consider emotional intelligence as a key leadership tool are more likely to help workers feel empathy, have confidence in the agenda, and produce more results.
Rick suggests this kind of leadership starts with a single question: “How does your state of happiness impact and flow through your business?”
One way to understand emotion is as a psychological map which shows how aligned one feels with their choices and goals. Positive emotion indicates harmony with one’s actions, while negative emotions signal confusion and inner conflict.
The overall “happiness” of a business can similarly be described in terms of alignment. When systems are operating harmoniously and progress toward goals is clear, we can say that business is aligned between its goals and actions.
The combined emotional health of a group of people can dramatically uplift an entire business, or audience. Personal happiness emanating from a business’ internal culture have ripple effects which flow through the brand and straight to the customer.
“Ultimately,” Richard points out, “a happy customer is gonna return more often than an unhappy customer. That doesn't take a lot of research!”
It makes sense that a company grows stronger from having a healthy, vibrant culture. This may be expressed as less sick days, more proactive employee advocacy for the brand, and a more enjoyable experience for customers, creating a flywheel which expands the community and nurtures loyalty in all directions.
Empowered people can take responsibility for their own happiness and make choices which lead them there.
“In our work, our ultimate goal is to provide entrepreneurs with the tools to harness their own happiness,” Rick says. “A deep sense of self-determination in business is a tremendous competitive advantage. This can be cultivated, and will contribute greatly to happiness at work, as well as when we log off.”
To the extent that business leaders can cultivate all of the above qualities in both their personal and professional lives, the positive effects from each will bleed into one another.
“Happiness emanates from your choices, your decisions, from how you show up in life,” Rick concludes. “If you want to know the best way to influence happiness in the workplace, start with the proactive influence of a life well-lived.”
To hear the full conversation, visit the Dragonproof website.
Miva offers a flexible and adaptable ecommerce platform that evolves with businesses and allows them to drive sales, maximize average order value, cut overhead costs, and increase revenue. Miva has been helping businesses realize their ecommerce potential for over 20 years and empowering retail, wholesale, and direct-to-consumer sellers across all industries to transform their business through ecommerce.