Commentary & Opinion

The Importance of Happiness at Work

By Marc Coleman

May. 13, 2019

Last year, members of our HR community called me with common feedback that they were meeting so many people who are unhappy at work and life. Any research you choose to look at for the past 10 years averages nearly three-quarters of people are looking for jobs and many of them are unhappy with their work.

Mo Gawdat, the founder of and former chief business officer at Google X, focuses on the relation between innovation and happiness. After losing his son Ali, he made it his personal mission to help 1 billion people become happier in all aspects of their life. I saw him speak last year and after he tells the room it is all right to be happy at work, Mo’s speech brought tears to thousands of attendees.

I agree wholeheartedly with Mo and my own belief is that we need to humanize, look ourselves in the mirror and be happy again at work and at home. We spend a substantial amount of our lives at work and I believe our happiness is impacted by how we feel in the workplace. This process of pursuing happiness highly resonated with me and the important role that HR professionals play in it.

Did you know that 65 percent of startups fail because the relationship between the co-founders also fails? This is same percentage for the top 10 countries with divorce rate worldwide. I think we can draw a correlation between the two: More relationships in the world fail than succeed.

If you haven’t heard of Esther Perel yet, be sure to catch one of her podcasts. A Belgium-born psychotherapist who now lives in New York, Esther helped change the lives of millions of couples. She is not afraid to tell people to “shut it!” and is working to unleash the chains of workplace relationships where jealousy, betrayal and bitterness can sabotage a business as much as a marriage.

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We’re especially seeing this in HR technology. Josh Bersin, the world’s leading analyst on the future of work, highlighted the move from automation to productivity in organizations over the past two years.

In the context of the digital revolution, Esther blames our devices for causing all sorts of new vices in the workplace. Esther feels that digital communication is damaging, and because 2D communication deprives us of our senses, the level of distortion between Slack or email messaging and face-to-face to voice communication is massive. Arianna Huffington echos this and encourages everyone to start introducing her Thrive Global model in their lives to disconnect from technology and reconnect more with life.

So I ask you, how different can our world and workplaces be in five to 10 years’ time if we start making work relationships better and innovate to support this ideology?

I ask everyone to rethink their happiness at home and in the workplace, and share their thoughts on how we’re going to change the future of work for the better.

Marc Coleman is founder and CEO of Unleash. This content was developed in partnership with Unleash America. Comment below or email

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