Evidence of happy workplaces is found in five habits that are ubiquitous, palpable and upheld as mission-critical.  Each employee from front line with the customer to the top executive lives each of these 5 habits in varying degrees: Believe, Choose, Empathy, Forgiveness and Purpose.  All five habits are encouraged, rewarded and recognized consistently.



When an organization shares a common belief, incredible things happen. Belief is a sense of purpose and confidence in something, even if others doubt the credibility of it.  Belief comes from the heart and is usually aligned with an inner knowing or truth.

Organizations that are aligned around a common belief can accomplish amazing things.  Some examples include the Ford Motor Company, whose team members believed they make an affordable automobile for the masses; Google, who believed that they could help people around the world find and share information through the Internet; and Tesla, who believes that everyone should have access to green energy solutions.

5 Habits in Happier Workplaces

Engagement is a precursor to happy cultures. Allowing each team member to share and incorporate their beliefs into the overall objectives of projects and work unlocks engagement. While this initial step may take a little time up front, it will help the entire organization understand the perspective that the others are coming from, while also helping teams “massage” each belief into a unifying and shared set of beliefs. Have teams validate their actions and decisions against shared beliefs periodically. This will help keep focus and alignment. Encourage employees to “live” their belief throughout their work. Challenge each other to catch a team member living beliefs and reward them.


Our path to happiness is our choice. Always. At any moment, we can walk a different route. Sometimes the well-worn route is not the right one for us. This well-worn route created by many people before us may be the expectation or the path of least resistance. It may seem the obvious choice. It may be totally wrong for shifting the workplace and putting culture on the road to a happier and healthier place.

5 Habits in Happier Workplaces

Our greatest power is our choice. All day long we are the sum of our choices. Our work result is the sum of our choices. Each of us is unique, important and capable to be more of who we desire to be. Being engaged gets much easier when we realize that at any moment, we have the power to not do things the same way.  A happy workplace is characterized by people making deliberate choices.


Let’s be honest; We are all “complexors”. Give us something unexpected — a problem we didn’t anticipate — and we begin to over analyze, over react and over reach for immediate answers. Answers tend to be elusive and unknowable through even brute force. Answers will ironically arrive faster if we just pause. Answers unfold in the simplest ways.

The process is simple to move through difficult times: begin with empathy. Listen within. Look outside at what others need. Find a kind, clear and simple way to take a step forward through complexity. When we can take a “directionally right, roughly correct” approach to problems we are creating action and opening to simple solutions.

5 Habits in Happier Workplaces

Take a step back to witness and listen. What is your intuition telling you? Is your mind connected to your heart (called ‘in coherence’) so you can feel for the answer to arrive? Are you enrolling others affected by the problem to do the same?

In other words, over-thinking delays results while empathy accelerates sustained success.


Holding on to what can be forgiven creates injury within us and our body. The hurts we experience along our career and work become hardened in our heart, mind and body. Hardening our heart deprives others from our full potential and connection. Rigidly guarding our self from more wounds or more suffering only dismisses the freedom forgiveness offers. It holds back our team, our company and our future. Mindfulness techniques have risen in importance in part to address the stress that comes from what needs to be forgiven.

Being vulnerable enough to give and receive forgiveness is a challenge for each of us. We must let go of not accepting that we all fail and we all stumble. Forgiveness means letting go of hurt, hardness and the need to be “right”. Letting go of self-judgment is often at the core of why we can’t forgive others. And why we can’t forgive our self.

5 Habits in Happier Workplaces

Soften our “hardnesses.” Each day, allow others to forgive us. Open our self to exchanging forgiving words. Love is expressed through giving and receiving forgiveness. Starting each day with one act of giving and one act of receiving forgiveness will change our workplace culture faster than you can imagine.


How can we find and keep heading toward our purpose? Happy people know they are edging toward, if not charging after, their personal purpose through work done every day.

Gamers strive for accumulated experience, awards and recognition among those who are like them. Game developers create technology platforms, stories and communities to meet those needs. That formula is successful because it mirrors how we go after purpose in life.  We feel happier when there is alignment of our daily activities that overall take us closer to our purpose for being.  When we are working in an organization that embraces a strong alignment between the organization’s purpose and individual life purpose, then a happy culture organically emerges and takes hold.

Your personal purpose is encoded in your heart. It’s in “your heart’s desires.” Your most emotion-packed dreams, life experiences and intuitions are indicators of your life purpose. It’s your personal signature felt as strongly as your handwritten signature.

Our organization’s purpose must be clearly articulated, felt and lived.  It’s the signature of the organization when paired with values.

5 Habits in Happier Workplaces

The main thing that prevents all of us from staying on course with aligning purposes is the daily adventure. The to-do lists are long.  The unanticipated market, customer and business needs take attention. Change is constant. The pace is ever-increasing. This is our daily adventure, all of us.

Staying on purpose begins with knowing that we simply need to be “directionally right, roughly correct”.  Purpose has nothing to do with perfection.  Purpose is not the goal, but instead the means for living and working toward goals.  Knowing purpose takes a bit of investment – for us and the organization.  Being purposeful also takes investment.  The payoff is wilder than most can imagine. The human energy and organizational power unleashed through alignment of purpose is staggering.


By focusing on the simplest elements of unlocking a positive, productive and happier culture at work, leaders are making an important contribution to supporting people to thrive and have meaning to their efforts that will accumulate into mutual success, individually and organization-wide. By committing to understand the five habits of happy cultures, everyone becomes a more active contributor to achieving that culture.  In the journey, happiness is a shared responsibility.

~ Coach Lane Michel