Let’s Stop Selling Happiness

27 February 2020


Jenny Ouellette
Recruitement and management

Have we made workplace happiness a trend? How many times have I read “working here will make you happy” on a company’s career page. And it never rings true to me. I’ve noticed that oftentimes, organizations think that making their employees happy is a simple task. We have to stop selling happiness and expect people to find it at work, because that’s a great way to ensure that they won’t.

Take a step back

You’ll never find happiness if you seek it. A survey conducted by Gallup shows that if you make it your primary goal, the opposite is likely to happen! And despite your efforts, every time you don’t reach a goal, you will be stressed and feel like a failure.

According to a study conducted by Siegel + Gale, 90% of employees expect to experience joy at work. However, only 37% of them actually do. If happiness is so important to employees and businesses, why aren’t more people happy at work? Do we have the right approach? I doubt it. What if the best way to be happy is to forget about finding happiness at work?


I frequently hear stories from senior managers who implement measures to boost happiness, without taking the time to ask employees what makes them happy. Although their intentions are good, this approach structures something that can’t be structured, and it even causes the managers to move further away from finding happiness at work.


Like your job

“The important thing is that you like your job,” our parents would say about our future careers. What if, instead of seeking happiness, employees and employers took this approach? We’ve instilled in our training sessions at BonBoss, that it’s possible to do what you love and love what you do.

Do what you love

Something wonderful happens when you do what you love; a career that is challenging enough yet not exhausting. You feel completely immersed in the task at hand, everything disappears and gives way to a state of ecstasy. What Hungarian psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, calls flow.

I love this approach because it conveys that we have a role to play, and that we are responsible for finding our own happiness.

Love what you do

It is also possible for managers to contribute to the happiness of their employees. Mr. Csikszentmihalyi says that: “A manager’s role is to create an environment where employees like their work and can thrive.” Concretely, this means that managers can help employees like what they do. Our trainer, Jacques Coderre Lareau, has a great example. When a manager gives an employee a new task, he can present the end goal and say, “It’s important to me that you like what you do. What do you think about the efforts needed to deliver the project? What could we add to it to make you like it more? Basically, I’m here to give you the right tools and help you. “In the spirit of collaboration, everyone actively participates in workplace happiness.

So, where is happiness?

That said, happiness is not a commercial object or a quest. While some employers have turned happiness into a marketing tool to attract new talent, others have understood that what they are selling can’t be sold. It is experienced and built together: employees, managers and employers combined. When a company puts people first, employees are heard, valued and the environment allows them to do what they love, and love what they do. Isn’t that happiness at work?


About the author

Jenny Ouellette

About Jenny Ouellette

Founder of BonBoss

Jenny is the founder of BonBoss.ca Inc., a company that aims to change the workplace, one good boss at a time. With a bachelor's degree in industrial relations, she began her career in human resources management before starting a life as a content marketing entrepreneur. Her unusual career path has led her to develop a unique expertise and vision for the future of recruitment and management.