March 19th 2019
By Liliana Dias,
Human Resources consultant at Stone Soup Consulting 

This month, we aim to celebrate with you the International Day of Happiness on March 20th.  As a society, we have become more and more focused and even almost obsessed with the search for happiness in our lives, relationships, work and organiSations. Several psychologists define happiness as a state of comfort and ease, i.e., feeling good in the moment. Many research studies coming from Positive Psychology have shown that searching for a continuous state of comfort and ease actually leaves us unhappier and unfulfilled. 

True fulfillment of people actually, research founds, comes from meaning.

It implies to go beyond a pleasant life and to be able to create not just a good but a meaningful life as defined by one of my favorite authors, Martin E. P. Seligman – a life that is about using our strengths in the service of something that is bigger than us

In our consultancy practice, we see this occurrence every day in organizations when we find, and are inspired by many amazing people working diligently in something bigger than them, but most often lacking positive employee experiences. 

In the third sector, in particular, meaning is crucial and can buffer many limitations and lack of resources for people that work in these organisations, but in the present work transformation, organisations must clearly reflect on what kind of work life they are creating for their own people, since their human capital is actually one of their biggest sustainability risks. If people are not fulfilled they disengage from work, they build conflicts, they chose other organisations, they work less and with less quality, they don’t innovate and they can get really sick. 

One good place to start is to reflect on the four pillars of a meaningful life as presented by Emily Esfahani Smith on her book (The Power of Meaning, 2017) and TedTalk

·     Is there a clear sense of Belonging? Do people feel valued and respected?

·     Is there a clear-shared Purpose? Do people have a clear Why for the things they do? 

·     Do people have the opportunity to engage in activities that lift them such as art, self-expression, creation and spirituality? (Transcendence); 

·     Does the Narrative of the organization bring clarity, positivity and builds identity and resilience? 

The path is hard and organisations can sometimes go off-track but so do we in our individual lives. What is fundamental it is to train together our ability to recognize, as soon as possible, that we need to change something in order to put us on the right path to a more meaningful organizational life. 

Our newsletter aims to bring you sheer examples of organisations that strive to create meaning not just for them but also for others. We hope you enjoy the read!