Back to top
Happiness at work

"Happy teams are more motivated and perform better."

Happiness at work means different things to different people, but we can identify some useful themes that are found time and time again in research to give people that extra oomph at work. If you can influence any of them as team leader, you'll develop a more engaged and fulfilled team.

Money and working conditions

No surprise - people prefer to work in a safe, pleasant environment and to be well-paid for what they do. If you have discretion as team leader over pay and conditions this is a great place to start.

People's feelings of safety are also influenced by how aggressive behaviour and conflict are managed. These behaviours may be hidden from view and some people may be more sensitive to them than others. It is important, even if you feel perfectly safe yourself, to be aware that others may feel less safe. You should be alert to any signs - such as non-contribution to team meetings - that people feel unable to express their views or concerns.

Quick Tip

Check out the briefings on managing conflict and building resilience to help you set up a constructive atmosphere if these are potential issues for your team.

Work culture

We value opportunities for professional development and possibilities for promotion.

We want to work for an organization that treats people fairly; and for a boss who we trust, who is concerned about us and does what they can to ensure we can perform well. People join organizations but leave bosses.

As team leader you may not be in a position to promise promotion, but you can help by giving people opportunities that will help in their careers. Even in difficult times it is possible to show ordinary decent behaviour - to be fair, show an interest in people and appreciate and support their work. The essential ingredients of a supportive can-do culture.

Quick Tip

Check out the tips in our section on how you can develop a team culture of confidence, support and appreciation.

Job factors

We like to be clear about what is expected of us at work, and receive regular and constructive feedback on how we are getting on. This is an easy win for you as team leader – staying in touch with the team, coaching them and keeping them up to speed with what’s happening outside.

Quick Tip

These team development sessions on our website will help you get this right with your team:

We enjoy variety and challenge in our job – up to a certain point. If we feel the demands are too great it stresses and de-motivates us. But in general, challenge not only motivates us, it improves our performance.

We want to use our skills, our discretion and make our own decisions wherever possible. The most rewarding times of our lives occur when we are using our skills to the maximum – at work and at play.

It is not always possible to vary the jobs that need to be done to make them more interesting and challenging. But how about delegating some responsibility and authority to people? Delegation is the high road to empowering your team and improving their skills.

Personal connection

We want a job that makes us feel good about ourselves. Perhaps because it gives us high status, perhaps because it makes a valuable contribution to other people or society as a whole.

We like feeling we belong and being part of a group at our workplace – identifying with the work the organization does and enjoying our social relationships.

As team leader you play an important part in uniting your team and helping people to feel proud of their contribution.

Quick Tip

The exercises on these pages will help you build a team where:

  1. People feel confident, supported and appreciated: How to build a team where everyone feels confident and appreciated, and
  2. Everyone is able to make their voice heard: How to help everyone to contribute in team meetings.


Finally, what is so inspiring about the evidence on happiness at work is how closely linked it is with what makes us perform well – setting challenging goals, building good relationships, treating people decently and so on.

Teams are a crucible where we have the potential to combine our contribution to society with personal fulfilment.

It is the team leader’s job to help that to happen.

Quick Tip

For more details on the evidence of the close links between personal fulfilment and achievement at work, please see the section on 'Engagement at work'.