hiring happy people

It seems like a no brainer, right?  We all want to work with people who are happy, and we all strive to be happier in our work.  But, do you make happiness a requirement in the job interview?

With all the research out there pointing to productivity in the workplace being directly correlated to an employee’s happiness, what most companies fail to realize is that it’s more about an employee’s intrinsic happiness, rather than a company’s ability to make an employee happy. (Although, companies can aid in an employee’s happiness.)

Here’s why you should be hiring happy people and how you can start by identifying them in the interview process:

“It turns out, happiness actually fuels success, not the other way around. And when we become more positive, our brain becomes more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, healthier, resilient and productive,” says Shawn Achor, researcher, author of the Happiness Advantage, and consultant to Fortune 500 companies.

Happy people are team players.

Whether they are solo contributors or work with groups of people, happy people have better work relationships, which translates into better teamwork, improved customer relations, and even better sales.

Let’s face it, happy people in general are more fun to be around, and when we interact with others who are happy, we are often inspired by them and their happiness can have a multiplier effect on our own state of mind.

Happy people are more motivated, creative, and productive.

When problems arise, happy people tend to fix problems instead of agonizing over them or complaining first.  They naturally aim to try to fix problems as they arise without letting them weigh them down.  When people are unhappy in their work, every small snag can turn into a crisis or obstacle.

A person also learns faster and adapts to new challenges more quickly when they are happy and relaxed, which also aids in productivity.  And because happy people worry less about making mistakes, they make fewer because they don’t agonize on them.  They take responsibility, fix them, and learn from them.

Happy people are better decision makers.

When a person is unhappy, they operate in a constant state of crisis.  They are unable to focus on the bigger picture and their decision making becomes reactive.  Happy people are able to prioritize their work and make more informed decisions because their focus has not narrowed and they can operate with their minds open to taking in and processing new information.

“A decade of research proves that happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%, as well as a myriad of health and quality of life improvements,” quotes Achor.

So what should you be looking for in the interview?  It all boils down to attitude and fit.  Will your new hire be ‘happy’ working in your company?  Do they have the right attitude to be successful?  When identifying happiness in job candidates, you have to take it one step further and evaluate whether their intrinsic happiness will mesh with the culture of your organization.

Mark Murphy, author of ‘Hiring for Attitude’ and ‘Hundred Percenters’ writes, “When new hires failed, 89% of the time it was for attitudinal reasons and only 11% of the time for lack of skill.”

He goes on to explain, “Technical proficiency, once a guarantee of lifetime employment, is a commodity in today’s job market.  Attitude is what today’s companies are hiring for. And not just any attitude; companies want attitudes that perfectly match their unique culture.”

Here are a few ways you can learn to identify happy job candidates:

  1. Make use of pre-employment tests and interviews that focus on attitude.
  2. Notice if candidates readily smile.
  3. Ask open-ended questions about facing problems or challenges, and observe whether the applicant focuses on solutions (the eternal optimist) or whines about the problem (the pessimist.)
  4. Make sure you are hiring someone who wants to do the job.  Even if they have the right skills, doesn’t mean they will be happy in the role.
  5. Ask about situations and examples of times when the candidate was happy.  If they recall negative experiences much more quickly or refer to them over the positive experiences, they may not have the right mind set.
  6. Hire people with goals and dreams.  Employees with goals work harder because they have a destination to reach.  It’s important to know what motivates your employees and to have a vested interest in their happiness and success.

“You should assume when you hire someone that they will grow within their initial role in your company,” says Tina Hamilton, president and CEO of HireVision.

While your organization may not be able to provide for all of their job satisfaction, you can determine whether there are opportunities available in your company to encourage the employee’s enthusiasm and incorporate extended education around what they’re passionate about or in-line with their career objectives.

But hiring happy people isn’t the only factor leading to increased productivity, lowering turnover, and creating a more profitable organizations.  It’s only the beginning of the equation.  These behaviors must continue to be fostered and reinforced in the workplace, creating a culture of happiness.

And when you have a culture of happiness in the workplace, your company will in turn attract happier candidates to your job openings creating a succession of happiness all around.