Brace yourself: this economy stinks. OK, so that isn’t surprising. But what might astonish you is that the single most affordable and effective way to improve your business in these difficult times is to invest in your happiness.

There are famous examples of fun work places that also are making record profits: Red Bull, Google, WaMu, Boeing, Starbucks and Southwest Airlines. (Do you really think it’s an accident that the only airline that invests in a positive work culture is also the only airline still making money in a lousy economy?)

You need to be more productive and more efficient. You need to attract business and keep what you have now. And your cash reserves are limited.

What to do? Invest in your attitude — and that of your organization. You might consider turning to an unusual business guru: your grandmother. Granny had some killer business advice when she told you to “Turn that frown upside down.”

Granny was right

The studies are clear: organizations and individuals who enjoy what they are doing are more effective and therefore more productive. Locating and accessing our senses of humor helps us with employee retention and recruitment, morale, creativity, energy, managing stress, communication, dealing with change, and creating and maintaining a positive workplace culture. In the end, it’s really about productivity. (Yes, I already used that word, but it’s important enough to use twice.) Productivity. (Now I’ve written it three times.) Oh, and by the way, happy people have better home lives. Which in turn improves their quality of work product.What does this concept mean to you?

It means that if you want to achieve more, (at work or at home) you need to systematically invest in happiness. And good news, kids. Most of it is free.How do you start?

After speaking for two decades in pretty much every industry, I have hundreds of examples of techniques organizations use to make their jobs and teams more lighthearted. But the single most important concept I drill into my clients is that they need to take responsibility for their own happiness.Happiness is not an emotion; it’s an attitude

Whether you’re the CEO or a middle manager or a front line worker, waiting for the happiness fairy to come waltzing in with a magic wand to make your job fun is like waiting to catch Santa with his bag of toys; it ain’t gonna happen. Sure, I teach dozens of tactics and techniques for making meetings more fun (and therefore more useful), humanizing the business world, and generally ramping up the joy at work.

But before you start, it’s important to understand that nobody else is going to do it for you. And oddly, that simple self-realization, that happiness and job satisfaction is something we can control, is often enough to kick start the joy. Sure, it isn’t a panacea, but it’s a big step in a profitable direction.

Don’t get me wrong; formalizing and institutionalizing specific plans to make work less of a drudgery and more fun are crucial. And they are absolutely worth the investment. But that effort will be for naught if you don’t start with your Granny’s wisdom to turn your frown around. (Don’t worry; you still don’t have to touch your broccoli.)

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©2009 Brad Montgomery, Humor In the Work place Institute 800.624.4250
How Happiness Can Help You Achieve in Business