Happiness… and how to achieve it (at work)

Posted on:March 23, 2016

Author:Clare Holt

Category:Blogs, Film projects, Uncategorized

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March 20th is the United Nations’ official International Day of Happiness – the day when, each year, the UN publishes its World Happiness Report.

This year Oxford-based academic Jan-Emmanuel de Neve, Associate Professor of Economics and Strategy at Saïd Business School, together with colleague George Ward from MIT co-authored a chapter on happiness at work. They focussed on three main areas:  the importance of having a job, the type of job that people have, and the characteristics of the job.

Their findings, based on survey data from 156 countries,  show that globally, while having a job is clearly hugely important and the scarring effects of unemployment can be profound and long-lasting, for those in work levels of happiness depend on much more than the payslip at the end of the month.


“People tend to spend the majority of their lives working, so it is important to understand the role that employment and unemployment play in shaping happiness. Our research reveals that happiness differs considerably across employment status, job type, and industry sectors. People in well paid roles are happier, but money is only one predictive measure of happiness – work-life balance, job variety and the level of autonomy, are other significant drivers.”


You can see Professor de Neve taking in more detail in our film:

Inspired by what we heard, we at Nice Tree Films polled our team and came up with our own, completely non-scientific Top Tips for creating a happy, engaged and fulfilled team at work.

1. Find great clients.

We are really lucky to work with some amazing clients and we appreciate how important it is to build and maintain good working relationships with all of them. When you like who you work with, the whole process of preparing, shooting and completing a project is a much more pleasurable experience.

2. Be nice!

To everyone you meet on a job, and everyone you work with. Believe it or not, you have an impact on everyone you meet, so be conscious of that and try to make your impact a positive one – even a smile helps.

3. Variety.

Variety really is the spice of life. If you can, mix it up. It’s great when you are able to take control of your work day and do more of what you enjoy doing. The 80/20 rule applies here – if you can spend 80% of your time doing the things you enjoy and 20% on less fun jobs that need to be done, not only will you be happier, but your efficiency will flourish.

4. Fresh air and daylight.

We are lucky and get to work outside and on some truly fantastic locations. But we also spend a lot of time in the office. Ours has big windows that open to the fresh air and a nice view – but before we were in our present location we were in a room with no windows at all and a funny smell – never good. Get out, go for a walk, shake up the grey matter and get the muscles working – it’ll pay dividends!

5. Coffee and cake!

The international food of happiness! And also lots of fruit and veg. And soup. And porridge (that’s enough food, ed)

6. Gratitude.

Say thank you. To your clients and to each other. For a job well done, a commission, or just a good day in the office. It works wonders! (Read more here).

7. Feedback and learning from mistakes.

Mistakes will happen – it’s inevitable. How we react to them is important and crucially we all have a choice in the way we do that. Here at NTF we are firmly of the opinion that whilst mistakes can be painful they are also, probably, the most important way we learn. As my mate Mark Thornton from Mostly Books in Abingdon said while we were discussing Jose Mourinho the other day, success teaches nothing (we are Liverpool fans. Draw your own conclusions). It’s super important that feedback is given, constructively and regularly, and that we develop broad enough shoulders to be able to take it on board without feeling crushed.

8. Celebrate success! 

Most importantly, include your whole team. Everyone involved in the production and back office staff will have played a part along the way so don’t leave anyone out.

Let us know what your top tips are for happiness at your work.

You can download a copy of the World Happiness Report here