Well being: Win the workplace to win the market

Companies must keep their staff happy – it's the only way to keep them productive, says Fiona Barron, chief executive of The Happiness Hub.

An exclusive Corporate Happiness Masterclass by the Happiness Hub; Fiona Barron and Saleem Ali, held at the media one hotel in Dubai. Anna Nielsen for The National
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Doug Conant, the chief executive of Campbell’s Soup, once said that to win the marketplace you must first win the workplace.

The people at The Happiness Hub, a consultancy specialising in corporate happiness, would probably agree. It is their mission to help companies make, and keep, their employees happy. If you do that, they will be more productive, they say.

“Having a positive and optimistic mindset has a wealth of benefits,” says Fiona Barron, cofounder and chief executive of The Happiness Hub, which held a corporate happiness masterclass last week to share some of its insights.

From a personal perspective, positivity can make you more resilient and better able to cope with adversity. And it has a host of benefits in the workplace.

“It makes us more innovative and creative, better at problem solving and identifying creative solutions. You are more cooperative and better at building relationships. And there is lower absenteeism and more loyalty to the businesses and companies,” says Ms Barron.

But what if you are not a naturally positive person? Optimism, happiness and positivity can all be learnt, says Ms Barron, who has a master’s degree in clinical psychology. The more we focus on them, the more we shift our mindset to identify opportunities to see the solution, she says.

Ms Barron and her cofounder, Saleem Ali, suggest adopting habits at work that are proven to make people happier and more productive. They include writing down three things you are grateful for each day and looking for strengths in others.

“We spend a significant amount of time thinking about what people have failed to do, what they have done wrong and what they could do better, colleagues, family,” said Mr Ali. “Instead, look for the things they are successful in.”

Kiran Sajwani, attended the masterclass to see what she could learn. As an independent innovation strategy consultant, part of her job is helping companies keep their employees happy.

“People spend eight, nine, 10, 12 hours at work,” she says. “So you might as well enjoy it.”

q&a happy firms perform well

Fiona Barron tells Gillian Duncan more about the company, which launched in October and held the Happiness Festival, a free community event that attracted 1,000 attendees, in March:

What has your focus been in recent months?

Since January we have been focused more specifically on corporates, so we developed our corporate portfolio, which focuses on business outcomes and how we can combine positive psychology to lift the overall performance of companies – whatever the companies want, but everything is tied to business objectives. So if a company comes and says we want to lift motivation, productivity and creativity then we will recommend the best methods to do this.

What is your background?

There are two founders. My background is psychology. I have a master’s in clinical psychology but have been focused for the past couple of years on positive psychology, so the science of happiness. Before that my background was events and training, so the two worlds merged for me and that is when I had the idea to create The Happiness Hub. Saleem Ali, who is my business partner and cofounder, his background is more on business performance and analytics, how to get the best out of it.

How many companies have you worked with since you started?

We have done a lot of work with six clients. The main industries we are seeing interested in this is hospitality, finance and education. But our biggest client is in construction.


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