It probably doesn’t come as a great surprise to learn that the research shows that happier teams are more valuable to your business than unhappy ones.

Happiness matters

Research from insurers Vitality reveals that poor physical and mental health among UK workers can result in employees losing an average of 30.4 working days every year – an issue that is costing the UK economy something in the region of £77.5 billion a year. Or, take this from the experts at Bensinger, DuPont & Associates, who suggest that one in five millennials have reported that they’re suffering with depression at work. This has a knock-on effect in terms of productivity, issues with absenteeism (and presenteeism), and can even be a source of conflict in the workplace. And according to the American Psychological Association in 2009, 51% of employees reported feeling less productive because of stress.

So, we can take it as a given, being happy and healthy isn’t just good for your people, it’s good for business too.

What can we do as leaders

But here at Holborn Assets we’re really fascinated by the role in which we, as leaders, can affect these levels of happiness in our people. Clearly, there are the obvious steps we can take in terms of making sure that there are the right mechanisms in place to support your teams to stay emotionally fit. Employee Assistance Programmes have a big role to play in this, and can help give your teams the confidence to take action to deal with difficult emotional issues before they become a debilitating problem. But another part we can play as leaders in promoting happiness is around changing behaviours – and how we model these for our teams.

Intentional, positive action

A fascinating paper by Sonja Lyubomirsky, Kennon M. Sheldon and David Schkade suggests that 50% of your capacity for happiness comes down to genetics, 10% to the circumstances you find yourself in and that the rest – 40% – is down to intentional things that you can do to change how you feel.

That implies that we, as leaders, can have an impact on around 50 per cent of a person’s ability to be happy (of course, the genetics are out of our hands, unless it’s a family firm!). So, for example, we can create a great culture that encourages happiness, with the support frameworks we’ve already discussed, to create the best circumstances we can.

But we can also encourage our teams to take those positive intentional actions themselves. The actions that impact the other 40 per cent of an individual’s ability to be happy.

How do we do this? As with many things in leadership, it starts with our own example. So, encourage simple, easy actions that in turn promote happiness, by doing them yourself. Take something like showing gratitude: this can be a hugely powerful leadership tool. By showing gratitude as a leader for your team and the great work they do, you begin to create an environment in which positivity, and people, are valued.

And so, by encouraging your team to show gratitude to each other – and yes, even to you as their leader – you’ll start to create a culture in which people are intentionally acting in a way that is making the whole team a lot happier. That’s got to be something for us all to aim for.