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Devil's Advocate: Happiness Can't Be Imposed at Work

December 12, 2013, 4:22 PM
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Oliver Burkeman pushes back against the irrepressible movement by bloggers and business gurus to make work fun in a New York Times op-ed. Burkeman, the author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, points out that while a happy work environment certainly has its advantages, studies also show that efforts to create workplace utopias can also damage overall productivity. 

The problem, as Burkeman points out, is the organizational version of what John Stuart Mill called "the paradox of hedonism," that is, when you ask yourself whether you are happy, you cease to be so. Happiness is not something can be imposed, and when it is, it is often a self-sabotaging effort. This is particularly damaging to people who start out with low self-esteem who end up feeling worse about themselves. 

Burkeman says that instead of forcing everyone to have fun at work, managers need to refocus their efforts to enable a variety of personality types to flourish. 

Burkeman's argument here

As regular followers of this blog will note, Americans are downright miserable at work, at an enormous cost to economic activity. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to remedy this situation. In fact, Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter likens the process of finding job satisfaction to solving a Rubik’s cube. Managers need to fully understand the challenge of aligning personal growth opportunities for employees with business needs. Employees also need to take responsibility for their own happiness and growth. 

Read about that here

For expert video content to inspire, engage and motivate your employees, visit Big Think Edge

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Devil's Advocate: Happiness...

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