Valerie Alexander didn’t start her career as a keynote speaker, sharing insights on happiness and inclusion in the workplace. In fact, she earned a master’s in economics and a law degree, served as a corporate securities attorney in Silicon Valley, made a move to venture capital then investment banking and even had a successful career as a screenwriter before becoming an author.
Her first book was about a personal journey toward happiness, seeing it as a baseline to which you can always return. From this, Alexander was often asked to speak about happiness and, deciding to focus on its importance in the workplace, received a certification in the Science of Happiness.
Alexander’s keynote, "How to Make Happiness in the Workplace Your Secret Weapon for Success," was featured at the AAppr 2023 Conference.
In a pre-conference interview, Alexander shared these takeaways for her talk.
A focus on happiness is important at work
When we talk about workplace happiness, it’s about actionable steps any leader can take to ensure employees are engaged and giving their best every day. Even if you only have an assistant who supports you and no other employees to supervise, you are a people leader, and you need managerial skills. If you start developing them with a focus on maximizing the happiness of your workforce, many other problems will solve themselves.
The three things that employees need to be happy in their jobs are: a sense of accomplishment, autonomy and acknowledgment of their contributions to a successful outcome. Give people these every day and they will outperform your highest expectations. The final piece is getting rid of toxicity and toxic people in the workplace.
Make happiness a priority for all
I want the audience to take away two things: 1. Happiness is easy if you make it a priority; and 2. Inclusion is required to ensure that a workplace is not only happy, but also will exist in the future.
We now need much more cultural awareness and intersectionality in workplaces. People need to not see that as something being taken away from them, but rather an expansive opportunity. Expansion to grow, expansion to learn.
Inclusion requires thinking about everybody’s happiness.
Happiness at work can save lives
According to Gallup, there are more than a dozen key metrics to measure employee engagement, and when a health care workplace is in the top quarter on the happiness and engagement scale, there are 58% fewer patient incidents compared to workplaces in the bottom quarter. Fifty-eight percent!
It really comes down to making happiness a priority in your workplace. This will be the biggest cost-saving thing you can do for your organization.