Happiness at Work for Entrepreneurs

We spoke to TED speaker Tracy Brower about happiness at work for entrepreneurs and how to create it for their teams.

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For entrepreneurs, happiness at work isn’t merely the fruit of success; it’s the very soil that nurtures their business’s growth. Studies show that happier entrepreneurs are more creative, productive, and, ultimately, more successful.

But how can you achieve this state of well-being amidst the pressures of entrepreneurship?

We spoke to renowned TedX speaker Tracy Brower on bringing happiness and work to life. 

Why happiness at work matters?

“We've got such a negative sort of narrative going on right now about work. Like we can't have it all. We have to, precariously balance everything. Work is a grind... But it doesn't have to be that way. Work can be a joy!

Dr. Tracy Brower, PhD, MM, MCRW is a sociologist studying work life fulfillment, happiness and the future of work. She is the author of two books. The Secrets to Happiness at Work provides insights for joyful work and life. Bring Work to Life by Bringing Life to Work.

Here’s why she says happiness at work matters for both entrepreneurs and their teams. 

The entrepreneurial path is fraught with obstacles that can hinder happiness:

  • The high stress and uncertainty of launching and growing a business.
  • Difficulties in maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
  • Potential isolation, as you’re responsible as leader to your teams and to investors. 

And it’s not only entrepreneurs who suffer. Team members who work in growing businesses are often overwhelmed with tasks. 

But happiness at work has a bottom-line impact

What is happiness at work?

Happiness at work means more than just feeling good; it encompasses a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and connection with what you do. 

Tracy says it’s really important to distinguish between hedonistic happiness and happiness. 

When we chase happiness, it tends to be more self-centered. It tends to be all about what we want, and that’s negatively correlated with happiness. More positively correlated is how we aew contributing to others. How we are creating and how we are making a contribution.

“Happiness isn’t just about feeling good all the time. Happiness as an emotion is not long-lasting and it isn’t the thing that will get us out of bed or keep us motivated.

The thing that is really most impactful is when people have a sense of meaning, and that gives them passion and purpose and creates that sort of love that makes them want to come back.”

What are the the key conditions for happiness at work?

To combat these challenges and nurture happiness, entrepreneurs can adopt several strategies:

  • Building a Supportive Community: Engage with other entrepreneurs, mentors, and supportive networks to share experiences and advice. Speaking of which, we hope to see you at this year’s EOS Conference
  • Setting Clear Goals: Nothing creates uncertainty and unhappiness like not charting a direction. Getting goals and using SMART Rocks to achieve them will bring a sense of ownership, empowerment and happiness.
  • Embracing Failure: View setbacks as valuable learning opportunities rather than defeats.
  • Promote a Positive Culture: Culture ios king! Cultivate a positive work culture based on trust, respect, and collaboration. Celebrate achievements, recognize contributions, and create opportunities for team bonding.
  • Organize your business. By creating SOPs and processes, you can organize your business. And your life! 

But what about team members?

Tracy says that entrepreneurs and their teams alike need five essential factors or conditions to thrive. 

The 5 factors to create happiness at work

  • Purpose. One of the things that’s really powerful in creating fulfillment and happiness and those experiences is purpose. When people feel connected to a bigger picture, they deliver more.
  • Connection Connecting with colleagues helps team members feel engaged, motivated, and inspired.
  • Learning. A third piece is learning and stretch. When entrepreneurs give people stretch opportunities, that’s when they grow. Continuous learning is an essential ingredient for happiness at work. 
  • Gratitude. Who doesn’t like to be thanked for their work. And a little thanks goes a long way. Just check out our interview with the Co-founder of Karma on why he’s dedicated to employee engagement
  • Performance. The more productive team members are, the more they’re able to reach their goals and growth metrics, the more likely they’re to want to continue in that trajectory.

How are team members responsible for their own happiness at work?

Let’s shift the focus from the entrepreneurs to the team members.

The responsibility lies with the team members themselves to take ownership of bringing their best selves to work. Just like responsibility lies with entrepreneurs for creating a great workplace culture and an environment where team members can thrive.

In essence, it’s a dual responsibility between entrepreneur and team member. 

It shouldn’t be about “What can I get” or “What are they going to give me?” but rather about “What can I contribute?”. 

How will AI impact the future of work?

This is the 6 million question right now, right?

Evidence suggests that there is a global talent shortage, which absolutely will continue.

Every developed and developing country has a declining birth rate so our need to attract and retain great talent will absolutely continue.

Despite the epidemic fear that AI is here to take over, it just isn’t true states Tracy. 

Bottom line?

Happiness at work is not just a byproduct of success for entrepreneurs—it’s a foundational component that drives it, for themselves and for team members.

By understanding the unique challenges they face and adopting strategies to cultivate happiness, entrepreneurs can build not only successful businesses but also fulfilling lives.

Remember, the journey is as important as the destination, and finding joy along the way is essential for true success.


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