The Amazon Uproar: Happiness at Work Matters


A couple of weeks ago The New York Times ran a scathing article portraying the Amazon work culture as anything but a happy environment. Whether that’s true or not, the question of happiness in the workplace is on our minds again and that’s a good thing. We need to keep the conversation going because we’re far from being on the same page when it comes to happiness and work.

Apparently there are those who would say happiness at work doesn’t matter and we shouldn’t even be talking about it. I don’t know what author and speaker Larry Winget really thinks about happiness at work but I do know he wrote the book entitled, It’s Called Work For A Reason! Unfortunately, a lot of people feel that way.

However, contrast that attitude to that of billionaire Warren Buffet, who said,  “There comes a time when you ought to start doing what you want. Take a job that you love. You will jump out of bed in the morning. I think you are out of your mind if you keep taking jobs that you don’t like because you think it will look good on your resume. Isn’t that a little like saving up sex for your old age?”

If you agree with Mr. Buffet, what can we do about happiness in the workplace? More than you think, and here’s four ways to get started:

  • 360 Happiness:

When I address happiness in the workplace in my keynotes or workshops for managers and leaders who want to learn how to coach and inspire their teams, I have to clear up a misunderstanding about happiness in the workplace.

Many people think the topic of happiness is about non-mangement employees being happy in the workplace. That’s only part of the story. The fact is, everyone needs to be happy, including our managers and senior leaders.

Happiness at work needs to be what I call “360 Degree Happiness”—everyone has a right to be happy, not just a few.


  • You’re In Charge of Your Happiness at Work:

We’re not victims in the sense someone is forcing us to work somewhere that makes us miserable. Each one of us has chosen where we work and if we’re not happy with our choices we can make new choices.

I’m not saying it’s easy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have choice. No one is going to rescue you from any unhappiness you’re experiencing—you have to take ownership of your life, your career choices and how you respond to challenges.

If you’re not willing to make a change, at least be gut level honest with yourself and say, “I’m not willing to make a change because I don’t want to do what it would take for me to get what I want.” That alone will at least lessen your frustration and unhappiness, or in positive sense, it will increase your happiness and well-being to some degree.


  • You Can Make a Difference:

We can’t give our power away by thinking only senior management can change the way we work. That’s small thinking—and it’s victim thinking. If your team or company culture is too fear-based, you can make a difference by speaking up even if you’re afraid to.

Be assertive and speak up in a thoughtful and respectful way and invite feedback and an ongoing dialogue. Don’t trash the company you’ve chosen to work with; make a difference with enlightened leadership. The “I’m mad as hell and I won’t take it anymore” might make for a good movie but it won’t make for a good career or outcome for you.


  • Unhappiness Can’t Create Happiness:

You have to grow your own happiness if you want to influence others in building a happier team or company. If you’re overly frustrated or too angry, slow down and take some time to discover how you can be happier where you are before things get better.

Focus on what’s right in your company and look for the positives, no matter how small they are. Create your own personal culture within your organization to raise the possibility for others. To that end, be solution oriented.

Solutions create “positive energy, which is my definition of “enlightened happiness” from my book Seven Secrets to Enlightened Happiness: Your Guide to the Life You Were Meant to Live. Be solution focused in your workplace and you will be a part of the employee engagement revolution that’s taking place. And if you want additional resources for exploring happiness at work, here are a few:


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