The Happiness ProjectFor an entire year, Gretchen Rubin devoted her life to the study of personal happiness.

She picked twelve important areas of human existence (such as marriage, work, parenting) and, one-month-at-a-time, committed herself to increasing her happiness in each of them.

Throughout the process, Rubin spent time “test driving” all of the world’s wisdom on the subject – everything from ancient philosophy, recent scientific studies and lessons from popular culture.

In her recent book, The Happiness Project, Rubin distills all she learned from her research and offers wonderful insight on how to most successfully and comprehensively make ourselves happier.

I happened to catch an interview with Ms. Rubin on CBS Sunday Morning – soon after her book made it to the top of the New York Time’s best seller list where she was asked this bottom-line question:  “What, above all else, did you discover to be the most important driver of happiness?”

Rubin told viewers that the answer to this question has been unchanged throughout the ages.  Having strong relationships with other people – connection – has the greatest influence on our satisfaction in life.

This is invaluable insight for leaders.  We now know that when people feel happy in their jobs, they’re more engaged and productive.  We also know that companies where employees are happiest achieve significantly greater financial performance.

With the knowledge that having greater connection increases human happiness – and productivity – I’d like to offer a few suggestions on what you as a leader can do to make your employees feel more deeply connected at work.

Foster Teamwork And Camaraderie

I’ve said this before, but when people feel united with one another in working toward a meaningful cause, excitement about work becomes extraordinary.  In addition to connecting people to the team and its mission, purposely pair up workers on brief assignments.  Go out of your way to put people in position to build new relationships – and to improve ones that are off track.

Reinforce Feelings Of Security

To every extent possible, give people assurance that they’re well thought of, doing good work and valued as part of the team.  Whenever people feel uneasy about their status with their boss (it’s human nature to worry about this), feelings of connection are threatened.  Never forget, people do their best work in the absence of fear.  So, be thoughtful and generous and routinely tell people how grateful you are that they work for you.  These words inspire!

Connect To Each Employee Yourself

It used to be taboo to make a more personal connection with employees; now it’s essential.  Make time to meet with employees and to discover what motivates them and what they dream of becoming.  Few things strengthen a person’s feeling of connection better than knowing they have a long future ahead with their boss, co-workers and organization.

Ben Stein once said that “personal relationships are the fertile soil from which all advancement, all success, all achievement in real life grows.”  He reminds us that every human alive thrives on connection.

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By Mark C. Crowley

Mark C. Crowley is the author of Lead From The Heart: Transformational Leadership For The 21st Century which has been taught in 11 American universities. He is a global speaker, leadership consultant and thought leader on the topics of workplace culture and employee engagement.