Years ago, I remember noticing patterns in the type of clients who were coming to see me for counselling.

I would have days when all of my clients were easy and seemed to come in just to make me laugh. Then there were other days when I found many of my clients very, very difficult. That’s me to the right!

During one of these challenging periods, I teased my secretary, pretending to complain about all of the difficult clients she had been booking in for me that week. She teased right back, saying she thought that my run of difficult clients had more to do with what sort of mood I was in at the beginning of the week!

She was right, of course. The way that we perceive the world and relate to others is largely influenced by how we are feeling.

When we are travelling well, even the challenges are not so difficult. And when we are tired, run-down, or in a bad mood, we find circumstances more challenging and we become more difficult ourselves.

Our physical well-being also has a strong influence on our behaviour. One Israeli study that made me laugh found that judges were more lenient when they had eaten lunch.

I know from experience that those days I am able to get out cycling are always better days for me. I tend to be in a better mood, am less-stressed when there are challenges, more productive at work, and am easier to live with at home.

There is also a very strong relationship between our well-being and the quality of service we give to our customers. We have all been on the receiving end of wonderful service from people who are genuinely happy at work. We have also experienced atrocious service from individuals who are desperately unhappy at work and perhaps should be somewhere else.

I think we’re allowed to be human and have our down days. And, with major challenges or losses, we are right to be affected by them, sometimes for very long periods of time.

Resilient individuals are certainly affected by life’s stressors. But they are proactive in addressing those challenges that are within their control and taking further actions to create positive experiences and emotions, such as …

  • Giving themselves time to recharge from work
  • Surrounding themselves with people who help them to feel good
  • Pursuing interests that they are passionate about
  • Developing a better sleeping pattern
  • Eating well and exercising regularly

Such choices are referred to in the research as ‘protective factors’ that buffer us against life’s challenges.

Great workplaces and smart managers can also do their part to help people to be happier at work.

Some of the ways they do this are by …

  • Encouraging positive and supportive relationships at work
  • Aligning strengths with responsibilities
  • Managing team members according to their individual preference
  • Giving people a greater say in decisions that affect their work
  • Supporting people in having a good work-life balance
  • Giving them an Apple computer (I may have made that up)

Unfortunately, having happy team members does not always guarantee great service and productivity. There are other factors at play that can produce negative outcomes – such as not hiring the right people, leaders not setting the right example, obstacles that inhibit performance, or the absence of quality training.

Nor does unhappiness necessarily mean poor levels of service and productivity. There are some of us who are prepared to do quality work, irrespective of our challenges or how we are managed – our work and service ethic is simply part of who we are.

But for many of us, our well-being strongly influences how we perform and relate to others. Large international studies by the Gallup Organisation continue to validate the relationship between staff well-being and individual and team performance.

It is a two way street, of course. Workplaces can do their part to consider the needs of team members. But team members also need to consider the needs of their workplace.

Ultimately, if improvements can be made where everyone gets more of what they need, the benefits are there – for our workplace and customers, as well as for ourselves and our loved ones.