How to Cultivate True Happiness at Work

Trending job titles such as “Chief Happiness Officer,” “VP of People and Culture” and even “Vibe Manager” reflect an increasing focus on employee happiness and creating a positive work environment. These new job titles often go hand in hand with an emphasis on fun, as companies woo employees with ping pong tables, nap pods, surf breaks, and bring your pet to work days.

Of course, having fun at work is known to lead to more productive and happier employees. But happiness at work goes much deeper than fun and games. True happiness at work is grounded in job satisfaction, and job satisfaction comes from feeling appreciated, acknowledged, engaged, and connected to a shared purpose. Just like any strong relationship, the connection between employee and employer should be rooted in trust, respect, and appreciation.


Employees need to feel they can count on their employer to be honest, in good times and bad. Appropriate transparency with clear communication about business strategy, operations and goals helps employees participate in the overarching vision. Trust also means employees can count on the organization to deal fairly in areas ranging from pay equity to promotions.


Everyone deserves to work in an environment of respect. Employers must make it clear that harassment, discrimination and bullying will not be tolerated. Plus, they should adhere to such hallmarks of a respectful culture as listening to and following up on employee ideas and suggestions as well as promoting a culture that welcomes and celebrates people of diverse backgrounds and life situations. Through a respectful work environment, employees bring talents and problem-solving skills to tackle tasks at hand, leading to more creativity, collaboration, and innovation.


The best workplaces have real-time and formal recognition programs, often allowing for not only supervisor-to-employee recognition but peer-to-peer acknowledgment as well. Even without a formal recognition program, informal demonstrations of appreciation can make a big difference. Positive feedback statements, extending public thanks, and small rewards, such as a favorite coffee or lunch outing, can go a long way in fostering a culture of employee appreciation and engagement.

As with any good relationship, trust, respect, and appreciation go both ways. Employees who feel trusted are more likely to trust employers and support leadership’s decisions and directions. Additionally, employees who feel respected are more likely to help spread a companywide culture of respect. And employees who feel appreciated are more likely to appreciate others’ work, which in turn helps to create a culture of shared purpose.

To speak with a professional clinician about strengthening relationships at work, dealing with a difficult situation, or improving connections in any area of life, reach out to your Assistance Program (AP) for personalized, complimentary and confidential support.