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The future of wellbeing – brain science coming to a phone near you!

Posted by on in Happiness

 

The state of our wellbeing is linked to both physical and mental health. How we perform when we feel good is at the heart of getting organisational wellbeing right – for the employees and the employer. So why, when we discuss workplace performance do we focus on stress and negative outcomes instead of the positive end of things: increasing happiness, good energy flow, what’s possible with positive pressure or taking joy from our environments? We’ve written previously about how a fun working environment can produce positive outcomes for people and their organisations and that forms part of this broader argument. 

In our latest research report, What is a Good Day At Work, we explore the link between wellbeing and expectations / experience of work. This exploration found that when people have their key expectations met, they’re more likely to enjoy their time at work, be happier and be more productive. This is because their physical and mental energies are in balance. Sounds obvious, but so much less likely to happen if the employer isn’t aware of, or worse still, doesn’t care about those expectations.

But when our expectations are met we feel happy and fulfilled with what’s happening in our working lives. This is has been shown time and time again in the research and in line with that Dr Marianne Pochelli recently published an article discussing what happens to our brain cells when we experience happiness.

The science behind how brain and behaviour are connected provides valuable insights in terms of how people respond to positivity and the good things in life. The brain functions best when it is rewarded with a balanced mix of the right pleasure chemicals and activity through thought. 

At the moment the dialogue in the workplace is about measuring employees’ health and emotions with questionnaires, via apps and, of course, wearables – but we believe the future of wellbeing could be quite different. Not only will all that existing data be much more integrated so we, as individuals, will be able to see what it all means, but we’ll also be able to add in read-outs on brain activity. This will add a whole new layer to our understanding of how a wellbeing culture and positive workplaces can help workers feel good and perform better.

Dr Pochelli discusses the power of natural brain chemicals, such as dopamine, (a ‘reward hormone’) and the effect of these on the body. A dose of dopamine leads to “feelings of buoyant optimism, energy, power, and knowledge”. How incredible would it be to channel this feeling naturally, heading to and from the office every day with this level of energy and mood simply based on how we process our day at work? Think of it as a new form of mindfulness, but one that’s informed by an understanding of how the brain is working in different situations. At the moment that’s happening in the realm of cognitive neuro-science and the lucky few get to apply the insights in a work setting – but in the future every one of us could be getting that information on our phones every day! Some say too much information is dangerous, but at Good Day at Work we believe in the power of this kind of scientific insight, provided it’s combined with a healthy dose of personal responsibility. 

This is just one aspect of the Future of Wellbeing, which will be the theme for the Good Day at Work Conversation, 2017. If you’d like to find out the other themes we’ll be discussing, head to the Conversation 2017.

You can find Jessica on Twitter – Tweet to @jessicahildyard 

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Guest Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Cary CooperGood Day at Work™

The new wellbeing resources hub founded by @profcarycooper and Roberston Cooper. Join for FREE and access blogs, videos, downloads, podcasts and more.

Ben MossBen on Twitter

MD of Cary Cooper's business psychology firm, Robertson Cooper - for all things wellbeing, engagement and resilience at work.

Cary CooperCary on Twitter

Professor Cary Cooper, Director and Founder of Robertson Cooper Ltd, Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Manchester Business School.

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