Happiness – the key to sustainable performance?

Can happiness be the key to sustainable performance in the events industry? While there are opposing opinions around the subject of happiness as a strategic tool in the workplace, many studies support the simple belief that happy employees equal more productive employees. In an industry which is all about people, and bringing people together to create emotional connections and long-lasting relationships, at Strata we believe that happiness is an emotional intelligence that needs to be nurtured and prioritised at a strategic level. It’s called the Happiness Programme – more on that later. The ripple effects and potential for the growth of employees, clients, the agency and the industry means that everyone stands to benefit if embedded within the culture of an organisation and if delivered with authenticity and consistency.

The Harvard Business Review amongst others, regularly publishes reports and studies covering the importance of emotional intelligence, and the social skills that are critical for ambitious professionals and leaders to master. Happiness, is one emotion that is regularly referenced; how it impacts our work lives, and in turn how we perform. In a time where people crave experiences over material possessions, happiness is also talked about as the new wealth. Happiness has the potential to deliver genuine riches – both in terms of personal wellbeing and commercially, for forward thinking brands and business. A growing school of thought positions happiness as the sweet spot between pleasure and purpose, and this ideal is now more sought after than ever by employees and by consumers. People are expecting more from their employers and from the brands that they choose to spend their money with. An organisation that is able to successfully harness a business model centred on happiness, is one that has the capability to truly succeed and deliver sustainable performance in the long term, retaining its best people and attracting the brightest new talent, in the process.

But does happiness have what it takes to convince the hardest of critics it deserves its place in the business strategy of an agency? Does it really have a place in an industry with a reputation for long hours, demanding projects and resilient people. Especially so when we consider all of this. It’s well reported that the events industry is regarded as one of the most stressful industries to work within. CareerCast regularly ranks the role of event professional as the fifth most stressful role behind the military, emergency services, and that of being an airline pilot. Immovable deadlines are cited as the reason why… and when you take into account the live environment – where anything can happen, and the responsibility of people’s safety is in your hands, it stands to reason. And stress doesn’t discriminate. Even the most resilient of people are susceptible to the long-term effects of stress.

And it’s only now that we’re starting to hear more about the impact of this on-going stress with reports and stories of event professionals suffering from mental health issues, with little or no formal support from their organisations. This old school notion that you should just get on with it, and deal with the consequences that come with the job is not a sustainable, nor compassionate way to lead an organisation. Having worked in the industry myself for the last 30 years, I’ve seen how much has stayed the same in terms of attitudes, while everything around it has evolved at such pace with advances in technology, and the always-on nature of the workplace nowadays.

We also have a new wave of people coming into the workplace to consider. They are demanding much more of their employers in terms of their corporate social responsibility, purpose, and the balance they seek between work and life. The events industry is in danger of not keeping or attracting young, fresh thinking people if we don’t evolve how we do things and how we run our businesses.

There are of course those who believe that the pursuit of happiness brings with it intense pressure to achieve something that can never be perfectly achieved. And my reaction to this is that it comes down to how you define happiness. I share the opinion that happiness does not mean being cheerful all the time. It’s about accepting the good with the bad, and reframing the bad. And of course happiness is a highly personal thing. The way we define happiness at Strata is by ensuring that employees are supported in their individual ambitions and areas of specialism. We want our people to feel like they make a meaningful contribution to the vision of the company, that they have a purpose in that future, and that they have good, trusting relationships with the people that they work with.

So, yes, the happiness of our people is something that has its place at a strategic level at Strata. It’s called The Happiness Programme – an all encompassing programme that’s purpose is to provide employees with the support and infrastructure for them to produce work of outstanding quality within an agency culture that they relish being a part of. The programme was conceived by Casey Evans, Creative Director at Strata and our own Happiness guru and includes seven areas of focus as follows: the culture of the company, reward and recognition, personal development, diversity and inclusion, health and wellbeing, social experiences and giving back to the community. We are also looking at how we can support clients with their own wellbeing, and how to incorporate wellbeing into the events that we organise, understanding the opportunity and platform we have not only to encourage the happiness of our own staff, but the happiness of those people that we come into contact with every day.

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