10 Books on Happiness at Work

Unhappy employees spend only 40% of their time on task, according to research from iOpener. This means that unhappy employees are only working two days a week. Besides slowing down production and innovation, unhappy employees are sharing their negative perceptions with the rest of your workforce and consequently spreading discontent. No one enjoys working with a “Debbie Downer.” More importantly, no one enjoys being a “Debbie Downer.”

Building good will, showing genuine care and valuing employees should be a priority at every organization. Employees are responsible for their own happiness, but this does not preclude organizations from providing the tools, resources and culture that will inspire more joy at work. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of 10 books that offer advice, strategies and tips to help managers and employees improve workplace happiness. (Books are listed alphabetically)

    1. Title:Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

      Author: Tony Hsieh (@DHMovement)
      Audience: Managers
      Synopsis: This book shares how corporate culture impacts happiness, and how concentrating on the happiness of those around you can dramatically increase your own happiness.

    2. Title:Employee Engagement for Everyone: 4 Keys to Happiness and Fulfillment at Work

      Author: Kevin Kruse (@Kruse)
      Audience: Managers and Employees
      Synopsis: Through exercises and action items, managers will learn what drives engagement, and employees will discover how to drive their own engagement.

    3. Title: “The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work

      Author: Shawn Achor (@shawnachor)
      Audience: Employees
      Synopsis: Researcher and Harvard lecturer Shawn Achor shares seven actionable principles that will help employees think more positively and consequently, improve their performance and maximize their potential.

    4. Title: “Happiness at Work: Be Resilient, Motivated, and Successful – No Matter What

      Author: Srikumar Rao (@srikumarsrao)
      Audience: Employees
      Synopsis: Business School Professor and author Srikumar Rao shares how to change your perspective by shifting thought from negativity. The book also offers new ways to look at change and problem-solving.

    5. Title: “Happiness at Work: Maximizing Your Psychological Capital for Success

      Author: Jessica Pryce-Jones (@happy925)
      Audience: Managers and Employees
      Synopsis: Based on four years of research, the author focuses on what happiness means in a work context and shares the five keys—contribution, conviction, culture, commitment and confidence—to achieving happiness at work.

    6. Title: “Happy at Work: 60 Simple Ways to Stay Engaged and Be Successful

      Author: Jim Donovan (@JimDonovan)
      Audience: Employees
      Synopsis: The author offer tips and strategies that will empower you and lead you toward creating a happier experience at work.

    7. Title: “The Joy of Work?: Jobs, Happiness, and You

      Authors: Peter Warr and Guy Clapperton (@GuyClapperton)
      Audience: Managers
      Synopsis: This book brings together research from business and psychology in order to look at happiness and unhappiness from a fresh perspective. The authors share case studies, suggestions and strategies to help increase workplace happiness.

    8. Title: “The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work

      Authors: Teresa Amabile (@TeresaAmabile) and Steven Kramer
      Audience: Managers
      Synopsis: The authors show managers how to remove obstacles to progress and explain how to maximize their employees’ performance. The book also explains how to build a team of employees that consistently express positive emotions and strong motivation.

    9. Title: “Sleeping with Your Smartphone: How to Break the 24/7 Habit and Change the Way You Work

      Author: Leslie A. Perlow (@LesliePerlow)
      Audience: Managers and Employees
      Synopsis: In this step-by-step guide, Harvard Business School professor Leslie Perlow shares how to devote more time to your personal life and accomplish more at work.

    10. Title: “Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know

      Author: Jill Geisler (@JillGeisler)
      Audience: Managers
      Synopsis: When employees are promoted to management positions, they don’t always have the people skills to be effective bosses. This book shares what managers can do to grow great employees and build great places to work.

When happiness and employee welfare are embedded into organizational culture, employees tend to feel valued and are more motivated. Each year The Ritz-Carlton pinpoints five Key Success Factors (KSF). One of the KSFs is, “Inspire Exceptional Ladies and Gentlemen,” and this KSF comes before customer loyalty and before profits. Even when organizations prioritize happiness, employees still need to do their part to ensure a joyful work environment. If everyone commits to creating a better workplace, then we all have the opportunity to increase our happiness at work. 

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. Your organization can learn about The Ritz-Carlton methodology for customer service, employee engagement and leadership development. We also guide organizations through a multi-step process in order to achieve sustainable culture transformation.