What Really Makes People Happy at Work?

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Jessica Weiss

Whether at home or in the office, happiness is a personal thing. But are there any constants when it comes to happiness? What kinds of practices and activities seem to make everyone happy, regardless of where and how they work?

Today we sit down with Jessica Weiss, a speaker and consultant who has spent the last 15 years researching happiness, and working with companies including Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, and American Express. We discuss what she’s learned about happiness at work, and the surprising commonalities shared by people who really, honestly, enjoy their jobs. 

Learn more about Jessica and find her recent TEDx Talk, titled “Happiness: An Inside Job,” at: https://jessicaweiss.com/

Key Points

  • Commonalities in happiness that work for everyone
  • The business case for happiness, new studies, and metrics
  • Who’s a shining example in the happiness at work universe
  • Tangible tips to increase your individual and organizational happiness

*What leads to a happy life? What are the various ways to be happy? Happiness means different things to each of us. After doing extensive research, Management 3.0 founder Jurgen Appelo discovered the common thread: Happiness is something we create. It is not something to achieve. It is a path you choose, not a destination to arrive at.

So many of us spend our lives in pursuit of happiness. Instead of searching for it, we need to find ways to live, embrace, and implement it into our daily lives. That’s why we created the 12 Steps to Happiness at Management 3.0.

You can find more information and even download a free poster of the 12 steps at: https://management30.com/practice/ 


*Please note that the transcript has been automatically generated and proofread for mistakes. But remains in spoken English, and some syntax and grammar mistakes might remain.


Elisa Tuijnder: [00:00:00] Whether at home or in the office, happiness is a personal thing. We all have different practices, habits, and pursuits that make us smile, make us feel energized, and allow us to feel satisfied with the lives we lead and the work we do. But are there any constants when it comes to happiness? What kinds of practices and activities seem to make everyone happy, regardless of where and how they work?

Today, we sit down with a speaker and consultant who has spent the last 15 years researching happiness and working with some of the largest companies in the world. We’ll discuss what she’s learned about happiness at work and commonalities shared by people who really, honestly enjoy their jobs.

Before we dive in, you are [00:01:00] listening to The Happiness At Work podcast by Management 3.0 where we are getting serious about happiness.

I am your host, Elisa Tuijnder, happiness enthusiast and Management 3.0. Team member. In this podcast, we share insights from industry experts, influencers, and thought leaders about what it takes to be happy, motivated, and productive at work. So that loving your job becomes the norm and not the exception. We will be publishing every fortnight on Friday, so be sure to tune in and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Our guest today is Jessica Weiss, a renowned speaker, consultant, and leadership expert who has spent the last 15 years working with [00:02:00] companies including Coca-Cola, Johnson and Johnson and American Express. A recent TEDx talk titled Happiness and Inside Job is now available online and on her website, jessicaweiss.com.

Hey, so thank you so much for joining us today, Jessica. 

Jessica Weiss: Oh, it’s my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. Great. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Hey, 

so we’re super excited to talk about your work and what you’ve learned about happiness over the last 15 years. That’s what we are all about. But on the podcast, we always start with the same question, and that is what does happiness mean to you?

Jessica Weiss: Okay, so what does happiness mean to me? So I’m gonna start by saying first what I believe happiness is not, and then I’ll go into what I believe it is because I think that there’s a lot of stuff floating around in the atmosphere that I differ from. So first, what I believe happiness is not, is people love to say things like, oh, happiness is a choice.

If you choose to be happy, [00:03:00] you’re gonna be happy. And that’s fine and well and if you can do that’s great. But that to me is not what happiness is, and I don’t believe that happiness is a mindset. I actually think happiness is something much more tangible. I think that it’s something that we can cultivate and grow.

Like we can learn the things that work about happiness and then we can get more happiness in our life. So for me, happiness actually comes down to these three things. The first one is your friendships. Your connections, your family, all of your social connections, whatever that might mean. So for you, if it’s all friends, no family for somebody else.

If it’s all family, very few friends, whatever social connections that you can foster, that’s number one for me. The second one is around our level of engagement and enthusiasm for our life. So in other words, it’s how much we are paying attention to everything that we’re doing, how much energy we have towards everything that we’re doing.

So that’s the second one. And the third one [00:04:00] is work. And I think that’s the one where lots of people are like, work. What do you mean? Work? But I think work can be a huge source of happiness, as I’m sure you do too. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. And it also should be cuz we spend so much time 

Jessica Weiss: there. Exactly.

Exactly. Yeah. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Hey how did you first have become interested in happiness at work? Did you have some kind of personal experience? Did you see a trend that you were like, okay, this area needs more attention? So how did that 

Jessica Weiss: happen? So I have always been somebody who’s been interested in the topic, just in general.

So even when I was in college and I was an undergrad, it was always something that kind of pulled me in. I was always interested, it always piqued my curiosity. So it was always something that was floating in the back of my brain. My brain on a very personal level. And then, I became a, I went to business school and I became a management consultant.

And a lot of the work that I was doing was around organizational transformation. How can companies become more innovative and more [00:05:00] creative? How can they grow? And oftentimes, once we peeled back all the layers, What was often at the heart of all of that was, how do I get better at my job?

How do I do my job better? And then if you push that one step further, it was, how can I get more enjoyment for my work? How can I have more happiness at work? And when I realized that was the answer, the, or the question to all, that answered everything that was where I was like, oh, this is the spot where we should be focusing.

So all the transformation. All the curiosity, all of that actually comes down to how do we find more happiness at work. Yeah, 

Elisa Tuijnder: absolutely. Hey, so you’ve done quite a bit of research over the years and I just wanna ask you whether you’ve learned anything that was, surprising or especially valuable or around in this space.

And I know you probably have so much, but. How for you, does it impact businesses and employees? 

Jessica Weiss: So what I think is actually most interesting in [00:06:00] terms of happiness at work specifically, is I think that lots of people like to say, why should we even care about this? I’m here to make money this happiness at work stuff like this is very, this is nonsensical.

Why am I even spending time on it? But now we have decades, literally decades worth of research that show that happiness actually impacts the bottom line. I think that as much as we can bring data into this conversation so that we can convince people of how important this is, that’s what I think is most important.

And I will say this, there’s one piece of data that just came out very recently out of the University of Oxford, which looked at companies that valued happiness at work and really, the way that we say they valued happiness at work. Maybe they were the best. They were voted best place to work.

Or they ranked per, they used this as a value. And they interviewed out of this research, it interviewed millions of employees. And what they found [00:07:00] was the organizations that valued happiness, mental wellbeing, workplace wellbeing, whatever we wanna call it, outperformed the S&P stock market by 30%. Wow. So if you invested a thousand dollars in the stock market, just like regular S&P, I’m not a genius around this, so I’m sure I’m not calling it correctly but you understand the absolutely point of what I’m saying. Absolute. So if you invested a thousand dollars into the stock market on the S&P 500, which is that very okay, I’m just gonna put it in these great companies.

You would get a certain return if you put it in companies that were on best places to work, you got $300 more for every $1,000 that you invested. Oh. So we’re outperforming in the stock market, which I feel like you really can’t get a better data point than that, right? Yeah. So if CEOs wanna care about something that’s going to drive profit, I say happiness at work [00:08:00] should be priority number one.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. And I love, actually I don’t put that many, that much value on, the metrics and the KPIs and those kind of things, but I know the C-Suite does and the CEOs do so much. Yes. So it’s great to have those in our pockets. Hey, look at this. This is, this 

Jessica Weiss: really matters. There’s a.

Bunch more, statistics that I’m sure you know about but this one is a new one that I really loved. Yeah. So there’s obviously obvious statistic. Yeah. There’s obviously statistics around productivity and turnover and employee retention, attrition rate and all of that. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And all that stuff.

But this one I was like, Ooh, this is a good one. 

Elisa Tuijnder: This is a really good one. Yeah, I’m definitely gonna check that one out. Hey, so you’ve also recently given this incredible TEDx talk and I encourage listeners to definitely listen to it. But I’d love to touch on some of the points that you made there.

So let’s start with. Compensation. So many people think happiness at work is as simple like as, hey, you’re just making a good wage, and that’s fine. And then, it doesn’t matter anymore. So in your [00:09:00] experience, did you find that money or more money makes people happier in their jobs? And I know where your answer’s gonna be, but I love to hear it from 

Jessica Weiss: you.

Exactly. Exactly. The truth of the matter is it’s not so clear cut. The answer is actually not clearly Yes and not clearly. No. And I’m gonna explain to you why. In about, I think it was 2010, there was this landmark study that came out and said, Our happiness peaks at $75,000 per year. If you make a dollar over $75,000, you are not going to feel any more happiness than if you make, so if you make 75 or you make one 150 or whatever it is, you’re at the same base level of happiness.

Now to me, I have to say that one was always like, really? How is that really possible? Even me who knows lots and lots about money and its impact on happiness, I still had my doubts about it. So that study has now recently been updated and they have, the researchers have actually said, no, it doesn’t stop at 75 K.[00:10:00] 

But the story is a bit more nuanced and complicated than it’s simply boiling it down to a number, right? So I will say this, what we know about money and happiness is, we will never ever get lasting happiness from big things, right? So it will never come from a bigger salary. It will never come from a bigger title.

It will never come from buying a bigger house, driving a fancier car, meeting the right person. That is not a source of happiness. And the reason why that is not a source of happiness is because that’s a constant and continually moving target, right? So once you get there, you’re like, okay, but how about a little bit more?

Ok, but how about a little bit more? So that’s not where we get happiness from. And the interesting thing about money and happiness is this, and this is where I think the $75,000 study is actually interesting and dead on. I think what? The research researchers there were saying is [00:11:00] happiness at 75 K actually cures our unhappiness, right?

We’re no longer looking for basic needs, right? We can put food on the table, we can pay the bills, we can pay the rent. All of those kind of very basic needs are satisfied. And I think that’s exactly dead on right? So happiness probably is sorry. So compensation is probably more tied to curing unhappiness than driving our happiness.

Very long answer. Sorry. 

Elisa Tuijnder: No, absolutely. No. Very good answer. Very well explained as well. Yeah. It’s that basic needs fulfillment and but it just becomes less and less important, like Yes, exactly. Yeah. I also liked your point about, you know what they call in positive psychology, hedonistic adaptation.

Once you’re exactly living in the fancy house is no longer, yeah. You might wanna fancier house or you might want a better, better, 

Jessica Weiss: better car and yeah, no, that’s exactly it. And the research shows that the happiness that we, there is happiness to be derived from those moments of success and achievement.

Absolutely. Yeah. But it’s very fleeting. At max it lasts six months and not a minute [00:12:00] more. And to be perfectly honest with you, I don’t think you get six months out of it, but. That, at maximum six months of happiness 

Elisa Tuijnder: because then you get the first car and then it’s not as new anymore as well.


Jessica Weiss: And you get used to it. You’re bored. You need something. Yeah, 

Elisa Tuijnder: exactly. Hey, so you’ve also talked about some certain characteristics that, that a job must have in order for employees to feel satisfied in their role and, meeting those basic needs financially is one of them. But yeah.

What happens afterwards? How, what are the characteristics for people to feel more satisfied in their 

Jessica Weiss: roles? So basically there’s two characteristics that we all need in our jobs. And it doesn’t matter what you do, whether you are, funding, you’re curing cancer or you’re doing, or you’re, whatever it is, whatever your job exactly to go back to the stock market, whatever it is, your job needs to have these two basic characteristics in order to start to build happiness.[00:13:00] 

The first one is this. You need to feel that your success is earned. So that’s obvious, right? You can’t feel that your job has just fallen into your lap and that you inherited it because you’re part of a family or whatever it is. But there’s also another way to look at that, that your success is earned.

You have to feel that you’re part of an organization where. It’s very transparent and clear, and it’s not arbitrary how people get their jobs, right? It’s very, there’s a path. It’s very well communicated, so that’s the first one. You have to feel that your job has been earned. And the second one is the way that I like to talk about purpose, because purpose for me feels very difficult to nail down.

But when you say it like this, it becomes very personal. Yeah. I think it becomes much more clear. You have to feel that in your job you are doing something for somebody that they would not otherwise be able to do. So whatever that is. You are bringing something to the table that people would not [00:14:00] otherwise be able to do, and that is where we can start to derive happiness.

Our success is earned and we are doing things for people that they could not otherwise do for themselves, and that applies across the board. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. You can find that in any job. You just have to be passionate about a certain part of 

Jessica Weiss: it. That’s exactly it. You can say, you work in a retail store and you help people look more beautiful every day, whatever it is that you’re finding.

But you are the person who are making people, feel better about themselves. Yeah. Whatever it is. But it just has to be something that you feel that they could not do for themselves. And absolutely. It doesn’t have to be these huge, lofty goals, although that’s great. 

Elisa Tuijnder: They’re great too.

Those times probably feel a bit more unattainable. I remember being an idealist like that many moons ago. And then being very actually disappointed. 

Jessica Weiss: I know. Sold. It’s just like a business I know. Yeah. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Might have had [00:15:00] gotten more satisfaction from when I was working, on the farmer’s market as a kid than from working.

That’s true. Absolutely. Cuz I was brightening up people’s days like it was way more personal than this lofty goal. Hey, so you’ve also talked about community in the workplace, and I’d like you to first how do you define community in the workplace? Is that all your friends, work, colleagues?

Like how do you see community? 

Jessica Weiss: Yeah. So I really believe that friendship is probably one of the key components to happiness. So I think that lots of people like to say, I go to work and then I have my life outside of work. So when at work I just have the people that I work with. And then outside of work is where I have my friends and I have fun and I do everything.

But my belief is we are spending exactly as you said earlier, we’re spending so much time at work, we need to have friends at work. It is a critical component to building happiness, building success, enjoying your job. So I think it begins [00:16:00] there, this idea of community begins with friendship, and it’s a little bit complicated because work friends can be a little bit complicated, right?

Whether, it’s around, is this a transactional friendship? Is this how much can you do for me? Do I not wanna share too much with people that I work with? But I think, and you don’t need many friends at work, but you need to have people at work that you consider to be true friends.

That’s where it begins. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. I know a lot of us are working remote teams or hybrid teams, and that can maybe be a barrier to that. So how do you bridge the digital gap? You think it’s possible? Is it harder now that it used to be at the water cooler? I 

Jessica Weiss: think that it’s definitely harder, right?

And I think that this certainly impacts younger workers much more than it impacts people who have been in the workplace, right? Because for younger workers, gen Z, who are just joining the workplace right now to join in a totally remote environment is. If that’s all you [00:17:00] know, then it’s a very strange place to start from.

But that being said, I do believe that it is still possible to have friends at work. I think you need to be more intentional about it. I think you need to be more deliberate about it. And I think that it shouldn’t fall entirely to the individual. I think that the organization plays a role here, right?

So if it’s a totally remote, and this is like a very superficial way that we could solve this problem, and there’s lots more ways that we can do it, but. If you’re working at a totally remote organization, I think it is the organization’s responsibility to bring people together for events where they connect.

Where they start to have real relationships whatever it is, whether it’s retreats or team outings, whatever it is, you can be remote, but you need to have some point of contact at some point, throughout the year. And I would say it certainly needs to happen more than once a year.

And then I think there are things that, that you can do on a weekly basis that are really very simple and probably a lot of people are doing, like very simply [00:18:00] sharing things at the beginning of a meeting, that are personal things about people so you actually get to know them. I think another thing that people really need to do that we all stopped doing is actually pick up the phone and call people, have a conversation rather than doing a text or a Slack or an email. Have a face-to-face, face-to-face, but on the telephone. I think that really, there are small things that you can do to cultivate friendship, even in a remote environment, even in a hybrid environment, but you need to be deliberate about it.


Elisa Tuijnder: absolutely. My favorite exercise that we did actually we did it this week, was a team retro. And I designed this exercise around gift giving cuz it was my birthday this week, and I, oh, happy birthday. They, I decided that it wasn’t just me that needed to get a gift, so we did this really silly thing where they could pick, we get, we did this straw of who could pick a gift for somebody else.

And then they had the whole of the internet right to kinda come up with something. But what [00:19:00] came out of that was really heartfelt actually. It was, it also showed that people paid attention to certain needs of others and that they still remember the conversation that they had a year ago. About how they wanted to go to Switzerland one day or something like that.

Exactly. They gave them a travel to Switzerland and Exactly. All the expenses paid. Yes. And it was such a beautiful 

Jessica Weiss: exercise. That’s a great exercise. I might need to steal that one. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Go for it. Go for everybody. The permission to steal it. I also had a question around, so one of the so I work in a fully remote team and we see each other twice a year.

And those times are great, but sometimes it does get lonely. And I’m, I know for myself that I’m a person that needs some social interaction and bouncing ideas sometimes. Yeah. That my colleagues not too any fault of their own, cuz they’re all so super busy, people can’t always give me I’ve also tried to sometimes go and work in like other offices.

You can so almost start making community. They might not be at the same company. Yeah. But it’s nice to feel surrounded by people who are working, but also sometimes to bounce an idea to [00:20:00] them like, Hey, I’m working on this. And how do you think it, how does that position. In your thinking around this.

Jessica Weiss: I think that’s great and I think that the whole idea that, let’s say, if you, whether you’re going to a co-working space or you’re working in a coffee shop, I think what’s really great to do in order to cultivate connections in that way is create a ritual. So maybe. Every Friday at 9:00 AM you go to this place.

Because what will start to happen then is you’re all those strangers start to become familiar strangers, right? And you start to see the same people over and over, and it becomes much easier to start to talk to them and to have things that you have in common. Oh, what did you get? Oh, that muffin looks great.

And then it starts to be a real connection. But I think absolutely. And I actually love that because I think that having. Connections. A diverse set of connections Absolutely. Is another key component of happiness, right? This idea that we have relational diversity, we have different kinds of friendship, different levels of friendship, [00:21:00] different people, is a key component to you.

Happiness. So you tapped into something, right? Dead on. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Yeah. And team health and diversity is a keyword. Exactly. I know. It’s a buzzword. Exactly. But it’s an important one as I’ll add it. Hey so speaking about remote work, do you feel that this new way of working hybrid predominantly hybrid, has it made people happier?

Because I think maybe for some it has, but, or has it isolated people a bit or, yeah. So are we more happy as employees? I feel like yeah, there’s different directions we can go 

Jessica Weiss: with this. Yeah. Yeah. And so many questions like this, it’s so individual, right? Yeah. I think for certain people, hybrid work has been, like life changing.

And I think it’s, for working mothers, it’s amazing. I think that for those Gen Z people who are just starting their career, I don’t know that hybrid working is really the best way to start your working life. So I think it depends on where you are in the stage of your career.

And then I think it [00:22:00] depends upon how the companies actually handle the hybrid situation. So if everybody’s coming together at the same time, if you’re, when you’re together in the office, you’re doing meaningful, collaborative, creative work. I think that all that adds to happiness. But I think that we have to be really specific about it.

So I think that there have been studies that have shown that people are, Gallup came out with the study that people actually are happier. With hybrid work because of the flexibility and they don’t have to commute and all that stuff. But I think it’s very specific to who you’re speaking to at what stage of their life they’re at.

I think that we really need, sometimes statistics need, like you need to dig in a little bit. Yeah, 

Elisa Tuijnder: absolutely. I think so too. And actually it leads me really well to my next question cuz like it’s how the company deals with it, right? Yeah. Because if it’s a really dry, let’s get up in the morning and then you have to be logged in by nine and you have to log out by five.

Yeah. It’s a very different type of culture. It’s, hey, we’re bringing everybody together twice a [00:23:00] year and for the rest you can work flexibly and autonomously. Yes. All of these kind of things. How important is that for you, do you think, for workplace happiness? 

Jessica Weiss: Yeah. There was just recently Google was calling everybody back to work and they were saying that they’re going to be taking attendance and they’re going to use attendance as part of performance reviews.

And I’m like, how on earth is Google doing this, doing that. Yeah. What is happening here. And I, it leads me to believe that there’s some kind of ulterior motive there, because they have to know that this is not the way, this is not the way to have engaged employees who are productive. They were the trailblazers.

Yeah. Yeah. Trailblazer. So it was bizarre to me. I think there’s this whole movement, right? But there’s, Facebook, everybody’s calling everybody back to work. And with this kind of mandatory you need to be here butts in seats, that kind of idea. That I’m baffled by.

But I think that other organizations are doing it well, but they need to, they need to exactly in the way that I [00:24:00] said, I think that you need to bring people together on specific days. Like we can’t have this idea that people are going into work to sit on zooms because people aren’t there.

That’s not gonna work. Yeah. We need to come together and do specific kind of work because collaborative work, when people feel that they’re part of a team is actually a key component to happiness. So I think that we have to be, this idea that. There was a movement around hot desking, right?

It was like, if you don’t have one desk, you’ll move yourself all around the office. You’ll meet more people. It’ll be, and then there was a backlash to that because people were like, oh my God, I hate this. I need to leave my things on my desk. Like I can’t be a transient human being in the office.

And I think that this hot desking is now something that’s happening as we do a hybrid kind of model. So there’s like all new unintended consequences that we need to think about. Definitely 

Elisa Tuijnder: and it’s, it changes and I think, coming together to really do work together is fantastic.

Yeah. That is really [00:25:00] important. Yeah. But how often when I was in the office before, I love this phrase was I was desk meat. Yeah. It’s just sitting there and I was doing the thing that I could be doing anywhere else. No, of course. In a way more inspiring environment. 

Jessica Weiss: I also think there is something interesting that’s happening with some companies, not all companies, is I think that they are understanding this idea that people are looking for flexibility and people are looking for perks.

But this, the, these idea that the perks are, And everybody says this, right? The ping pong tables, the pizza parties, that’s not it. But I do think that we’re going through perks 2.0, right? And I think that there are certain companies that are getting creative around this and actually offering perks that are meaningful and actually do bring happiness to work.

Like I saw something, Bank of America is doing a really creative program around sabbaticals. Now that’s something that you’re like, Hey, I actually would love to work here. Take a sabbatical. Bring that, outside stimulus back into work revived and re-energized. [00:26:00] So that’s one thing. I think that other companies, it’s around doing perks that are meaningful to people.

Maybe it’s around allowing people to do things with their family. So working mothers who are able to pick children up from school and do all the things and still do great at work, but the creativity around perks, and I think that’s a post pandemic thing. Is what’s really interesting to me.

Extended paid family leave, all that kind of stuff. But it’s really around like creativity. It’s certainly not ping pong tables and any of that nonsense. We all know that. That’s silly. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. And again, that’s also leads into a kind of individual preferences. What’s great for some person, these extended family leave or whatever, that’s great for people who have kids, but it’s not great for other people.

So asking people what do they want Exactly. Is a very good one. Not, here’s your voucher per year or Exactly. He get you Costco card or something. 

Jessica Weiss: Exactly. Exactly. I don’t need a Costco card. I’m one person. Exactly. Exactly.[00:27:00] 

Elisa Tuijnder: What leads to a happy life? What are the various ways to be happy? Happiness means different things to each of us. Yet after doing extensive research management 3.0, founder Jurgen Appelo, discovered a common thread. Happiness is something we create. It is not something to achieve. It is a path you choose, not a destination to arrive at.

So many of us spend our times in pursuit of happiness, yet instead of searching for it, we need to find ways to live it, embrace it, and implement it into our daily lives. We created the 12 Steps to Happiness at Management 3.0. You can find more information and even download a free poster of the 12 steps at management30.com/practice.[00:28:00] 

So you’ve been working 

in this field as a consultant for quite some time and I had always liked to ask people with this wealth of experience. What did you see was really effective at cultivating employee happiness and maybe also what actively got in the way of happiness because we also like to learn 

Jessica Weiss: from failures sometimes, right?

Yeah. So there are certain companies who value, right? They value and everybody calls at something else, workplace wellbeing, happiness at work, mental health, whatever it is. So there are certain companies that really value it and do it very well. I think that, One of the companies that I think is doing it really right now is actually Microsoft.

Yeah. In this post pandemic world, what they’re doing now is instead of looking at engagement, they’re looking at how employees thrive. How are they energized and empowered to do their work? And I think that they’re really, that’s, to me, that’s the necessary creativity that we need to look at it.[00:29:00] 

There are other companies, Lego is doing a brilliant job, but they’ve been doing a brilliant job for years, right? Oh yeah. They value creativity and play and all of that is essential building blocks to happiness at work. But what’s interesting is everybody’s doing it a little bit differently. Microsoft is looking at how do we have our employees instead of languishing, we want them to be thriving.

Lego is looking at creativity and play. Then there are other organizations, Southwest is lives by their values and has that at every single point of connection that they, you know, beginning with your interviews if you weren’t nice to the flight crew, you’re getting a demarcation, on your interview process.

You can’t just be nice to the person who’s interviewing you. Southwest believes that value should be from the moment you know how you live your life. So everybody hits at it from a different angle, but I think those companies right now, and there’s loads more are doing it really well. [00:30:00] Yeah. Zappos had something really interesting that they were doing.

Zappos is the icon for happiness, the icon, the, yeah exactly. But one thing that I love that they did was they paid people to quit. So they said, in the onboarding process, if you’ve decided that this is not the right place for you and you know you don’t wanna work here, you made a mistake.

We’d rather let you go now than investing all the time and money. And they paid people to quit within a certain period of time, which I thought was a very interesting and empowering way to look at it, because you do make a mistake. How many times have you walked in somewhere and you’re like, oh lord, I definitely got this one wrong.

And it happens almost instantaneously. You’re like, oh God. But I love it’s vibe. Different vibe. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Yes, 

Jessica Weiss: exactly. Looking for Exactly. But Zappos did that real, that’s another thing. So I feel like everybody hits at it from a different angle, but those companies are doing it particularly well right now.

Elisa Tuijnder: I did have a very interesting conversation with an L&D expert [00:31:00] the other day who was like, yeah, but companies like, in this fast paced environment, especially in agile frameworks, et cetera, it’s so fast that we don’t even know whether this employee is gonna be there next week.

We don’t even know whether the company’s gonna be there next week. She said nobody’s interested in providing training anymore. We didn’t. She was working with it for a big company. Yeah. They, because we don’t know whether we can retain these employees or whether the company’s still gonna be there.

I’m like, That is such a hard view, but I can understand where some of these people come from. 

Jessica Weiss: My initial reaction would be like, what? How is that even, possible. I understand that we’re all moving at a fast pace and the pace of business is quick and we need to adapt and be agile and I get all of that.

But I think that none of us. Whether we’re an organization, whether we’re an employee, whether we’re a manager, no one wants to flame out, right? We want that. We wanna be able to sustain it. You wanna be able to adapt to a situation, but still sustain it. And for [00:32:00] me happiness and wellbeing and all of that is the key to being able to sustain things. We never wanna burn people out. That’s the thing, I understand. Moving fast. I’m a New Yorker. I fully believe in moving fast. It’s the way I live my life. But I also believe in being adaptable. That’s really the key. Fast and adaptable, being able to change so that you have longevity long term, all that.

So I would disagree. I, 

Elisa Tuijnder: I most definitely disagreed. I thought it was a very it almost made me sad. Hey. So here on the podcast we’re big fans of tangible practices. So we always want to leave them with something that they could start implementing tomorrow. So I wanna ask you in that, in in two, in a two fork way, one is a more on an individual level.

Sure. So what kind of things can they do? Can they do we do at work that. Increases our happiness each day. Sure. And then we’ll move to the 

Jessica Weiss: second. Yeah. Organizational level. Yeah. Okay. So [00:33:00] as individuals, there’s a whole bunch of stuff we can do. So the first one is really easy, very superficial and very doable.

Be sure if you are working not in a remote situation, let’s say if you’re working in a hybrid or you’re back at work a certain d few days a week, be sure that you are sitting next to someone who is a high performer. By sitting next to someone who is a high performer, you raise your level of performance by 15% just by sitting next to someone who’s a high performer.

And if you sit next to someone who’s a low performer, you can imagine it goes in the opposite direction. So that’s a super easy one, right? Sit next to someone who’s a high potential. 

Elisa Tuijnder: I used to do this in the library when I was writing papers. Oh, that’s so funny. That would make me more busy as well. It make me more 

Jessica Weiss: focused.

Yeah. It was inspiring you in some way, right? Yeah, exactly. So that’s the first one. The second one is, This one takes a little bit more, this is a little bit more of an internal kind of thing. [00:34:00] Key to having a good day at work is having this sense of progress, right? Feeling like you’re getting stuff done.

There’s nothing worse than spending a day at work and being like, what the hell did I do all day due today? Yeah, I just answered emails and what did I accomplish? So it’s very important that we feel a sense of progress every single day. So how do you tap into sense of progress? Sense of progress can be easily accessed by celebrating small wins. So if you have a big goal, break it down into small digestible chunks and really celebrate the small wins. So that is another way that you can take like a crappy day and make it a good day. So we’re sitting next to high performers and we’re tapping into small wins.

Another one is around designing your day. And it goes along with this idea of small wins and this sense of purpose and sense of accomplishment is that we need to have the opportunity to do deep work, right? We need the opportunity to have quiet, [00:35:00] undisturbed focused work that actually brings you happiness.

So you need to design that into your day, whether it’s 30 minutes, 90 minutes, two hours, whatever works for you. But it has to be blocked on your calendar. It doesn’t even necessarily need to be every day, but it certainly needs to be as much as you feel you need to tap into that deep work. I like for me, I love to write.

I need to do it every single day in order to feel that sense of accomplishment. I know once I’ve done that, I’m like, okay, now I can answer my emails. I can do, you can do all the other stuff. Stuff. So that’s another one. Another one is, this actually came out of a study and I’ll stop talking in a minute no, don’t worry.

I apologize. Keep 

Elisa Tuijnder: going. 

I love 

Jessica Weiss: these. No. Another one, one is people need fresh air. So you need to give yourself a break. You need to go outside. You need fresh air is critical to focus and productivity. And the other thing they have found is green spaces. So put a plant on your desk.

These are [00:36:00] subliminal messages, but they raise your level of happiness. So I think those are good starts. I have loads more. Those are amazing Starts. Yeah, I have loads more but let’s go with 

Elisa Tuijnder: those. Yeah. I love how we are actually, as you mix, we’re like very complex house plants, aren’t we?

We need to be watered and some fresh air and some sunshine. Exactly. Exactly. And then, yeah let’s tackle it on an organizational level as well. Then you can 

Jessica Weiss: throw a bunch. Yeah. Yeah. So on an organizational level, I think that in order to. Foster this idea of happiness.

Let’s start with this. So on a team level, how do we start to get our teams to feel an increased level of happiness? And Dan Coyle wrote a great book about team happiness and sort of culture and how you elevate high performing teams and all of that kind of stuff. And he spoke about this one concept, which I love, and it’s called Deep Fun.

So I know that it sounds, that sounds a little contradictory and what on earth are we talking about? [00:37:00] But it’s, it, this is goes back to what we were talking about a few minutes ago around this idea about perks. And having perks that are meaningful. So no teams do not wanna have pizza parties and ping pong tables.

That’s not gonna be it. What he’s talking about when he’s talking about deep fun is creating activities that the team, and ideally it’s a cross-functional team, right? So it’s people from all throughout the organization are engaged in something that has meaning to them. So it’s not some kind of silly activity, but it’s not something very deep either.

Like it can be something as simple as we wanna have great coffee in the office. Let’s make a let’s have a project around investigating, researching, bringing in great coffee in the office, right? And as a team, you guys decide together, no, I like this coffee machine. Ooh, let’s do a taste test.

Whatever it is. But that’s the idea of deep fun, right? Yeah. So it’s not super deep, like we’re not pondering the meaning of life, but it is around an activity that has meaning, right? It’s [00:38:00] something that’s impactful the team to you. Yeah, exactly. And that will raise team happiness. And then of course there are rituals that you can do.

I think that. A huge mistake that organizations make specifically when they’re onboarding people is they just leave people like, okay, go ahead, figure it out. Welcome. Figure it out. Yeah, exactly. So I think that a great way, and this is beginning your journey is give everybody, I call it, this is my own personal thing, is an onboarding Sherpa.

It’s your guide. It’s the person that you can go to and you can ask questions and not feel stupid and not feel repercussions and be like, Hey, where’s the pencils? You know what I mean? And not feel stupid asking them that. Absolutely. So I think that is a ritual that organizations really, they need to be much more conscious around onboarding and all that kind of stuff.

But I have that that I feel like that’s a good start for organizations. He move slow. Very good. So let’s give them 

Elisa Tuijnder: them. There’s hey Jessica, people want to get in contact with you to hear more of these, or, there’s an [00:39:00] organization that is just super inspired by it right now, or they just wanna go listen to your TED Talk, which I mentioned, which we mentioned a few times.

Where do they go? 

Jessica Weiss: Okay, so the TEDx talk is on. YouTube and it is called Happiness. It’s an inside job, so please check that out. I would very much appreciate it. And it has some really great tangible stuff that you can start to do, like the minute after the talk is over. So 15 minutes later you can start to be happier.

And then I am at jessicaweis.com. So basically if you go to my website, you can get everywhere from there. So from there you can get to my Instagram, my TikTok, which o. Dear God, good luck with that. And exactly, and my LinkedIn. So just, jessicaweiss.com gets you, can see my writings and all that kind of stuff and my videos.

So that’s the best place to, to find me. And then of course, if there are any inquiries around coaching and speaking, all of that can be done through the website. Great. 

Elisa Tuijnder: That’s where it all branches [00:40:00] out from. Exactly. So Perfect. Jessica, I really enjoyed our high energy conversation.

Yes, too. It was my perfect it’s a Friday night here when we’re recording it. It was my perfect, start of the weekend. I really enjoyed this. Perfect. So thank you so much for coming 


Jessica Weiss: the show. Thank you for having me. This was really a lot of fun. I appreciate it. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Okay, great. Thanks so much again.

You’ve been listening to The Happiness At Work podcast by Management 3.0 where we are getting serious about happiness. Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and if you enjoy our shows, don’t be shy. Write us a review. Share the happiness with your colleagues, family or friends. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn under Management [00:41:00] 3.0.

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