Happiness at Work at TBS Business Debates

Friday, February 28, 2020 - 13:15

Has happiness gained importance in today's working world? Is the role of a Happiness Manager necessary or is it just a fleeting trend? The second event in the TBS Business Debates series – which took place on 6 February – tried to answer these questions through a round table moderated by Başak Canboy, a Professor of Human Resources on the Barcelona campus. This time, the guests were Sílvia Vílchez, Interim Manager for Change Management, and Jordi Quoidbach, Associate Professor in the Department of People Management and Organisation at ESADE Business School.

Many studies show that a relaxed and pleasant working environment increases the productivity of workers and, as a result, of the company in general. Notable among them is the Best Workplaces Ranking from the Great Place to Work consultancy, which helps companies to implement a business and organisational culture that allows them to meet their strategic objectives and get ahead of the competition. In fact, this consultancy has found that workers will perform more happily and efficiently if they believe that their bosses value their work and take their opinions into consideration.

In this regard, Vílchez believes that the company should be tasked with “building strong standards and healthy relationships that create a good working environment.” Despite being an Interim Manager for Change Management with many years of experience as a Corporate Human Resources Manager with a particular focus on happiness at work, Vílchez does not consider herself a Happiness Manager. In fact, she admits that she does not like this term: “Your happiness is complex, it includes several aspects of your life and personality [...] But I, as a professional, don’t want to take responsibility for your emotions.” The solution, according to Vílchez, is to clear the way for employee comfort and “provide an environment where employees can become the best version of themselves.” 

For his part, Quoidbach is an Associate Professor in the Department of People Management and Organisation at ESADE Business School, and conducts research on emotions and decision-making, including numerous academic publications on happiness. He began studying in this field after discovering during his PhD that employees were never asked about the factors that make them happy. “There are always questions about how to manage anger, nerves or scary situations, but never about what people do when they get a promotion at work,” said Quoidbach. 

So how do we determine whether workers are happy with their jobs? According to Quoidbach, happiness has a satisfaction component, in the sense that “you are satisfied because your employment situation is reasonably close to your ideal of happiness, or because you are happy with your working conditions and expectations.” But the professor believes the definition goes beyond purely satisfaction, and positions feelings and emotions as the main indicators: “Happiness is also related to how a person feels, [...] whether they feel good or bad at the precise moment they step through the office door.”

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