"Happy" versus "Satisfied"

The SMH today had two reports on happiness and satisfaction following the Australian Bureau of Statistics releasing a report on progress.

The first article, Feeling fed up? reported that there is a dip in happiness in people in their forties, but that the sense of wellbeing returns in later years.

The second, Recipe for happiness…, by Christopher Scanlon is a thoughtful opinion piece noting that the proliferation of happiness literature and ‘solutions’. In particular, he challenges the move to public policy attempting to address ‘happiness’ as it is such a subjective state.

For communication, the implications of satisfaction and happiness are a deep pool. Rather than dive in, I will only dip my toe today:

Communication needs to be careful when trying to generate satisfaction or happiness. Businesses (and leaders) who are trying to ‘make their employees happy’ are running a risk of trying to overstep their brief. Communication intended to ‘keep them happy’ is doomed to a short and ineffective life.

What business can do is create environments in which people can achieve satisfaction:

  • recognise that people are individuals
  • be clear about expectations: yours AND those of employees
  • be upfront and open
  • be prepared to answer the question “Why?”

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