By: Amanda Medlen I recently read a blog written by English billionaire and Virgin Group CEO, Sir Richard Branson, about one important measure of business success and I must admit, his comments, and those who responded have resonated within me… Mr. Branson’s blog focuses on happiness as a key measure of success. In fact, in the article, he referenced, and applauded Bhutan, a small Kingdom in the Himalayas, for installing a new position – Minister of Happiness whose chief goal is to increase national prosperity through monitoring “gross national happiness.” The Bhutanese, and Mr. Branson, are theorizing, “… focusing on people’s well-being rather than economic productivity, there is likely to be a knock-on effect for business too.” Many people have responded to Mr. Branson’s blog fully agreeing with his philosophy. One comment to the thread reads as follows, “I agree that happiness and peace of mind go together to make your work environment make your workplace/position/job much more productive and successful. Unfortunately, most companies seem to forget that it takes everyone to make a business successful, from the bottom to the top. (People) get caught up in their positions, not remembering where they came from. They were not always CEO’s and without a strong and happy team behind them they would sink…” With the economy in an incredibly slow turnaround and threats of another looming recession furcated unless lawmakers act quickly, it is extremely difficult for even the most optimistic to stay upbeat. What strategies are businesses utilizing to help their employees feel engaged, encouraged, appreciated, and needed instead of simply workers who affect the company’s bottom line and factors of profit? At times, I have been jokingly referred to as the “Social Committee” of IDO. But I think during these difficult times it is important for us to have fun and enjoy each other’s company and the work we do. Why should we make more efforts to have fun in the workplace? We likely spend more time with each other than we do our own families and who wants to spend their time away from family in an unhappy environment? Everyone who works has responsibilities, deadlines, and metrics, which are very important. However, if Mr. Branson is correct who do you believe will produce better work faster, the employee who is happy or the employee who can only focus on his or her own metrics? I’ll side with Mr. Branson on this one! The design community is full of professionals who are gifted as well as fun and sociable. Our responsibility is to help provide others with living and working environments that are comfortable, enjoyable, and promote productivity – whatever the definition of ‘productivity’ is for that space. How can our own happiness and cheerful attitudes affect our own work, colleagues work, and the overall brand of our respective organizations? For me, I am happy to find out! Cheers!