How to be happier in 2024 and beyond

Jonathan Passmore
Mar 22 2024 | Observaciones
Woman sat in an office at her desk, working at a silver laptop.

Happiness and wellbeing have increasingly become more of a focus in the workplace over the past decade. Wellbeing is key to employee performance, satisfaction, and for reducing burnout. So, now that you’ve tackled everything you need in Q1 to start the year off right, how can you make 2024 a happier, and more productive year, and keep this up moving forward? The evidence from positive psychology is that a few small changes can go a long way to making for a happier year ahead.

Boosting employee happiness as a leader

From a business perspective, including ways to help your employees feel happy and healthy at work doesn’t need to be complex. Implementing small changes within a team can be key to not only improving employee happiness, but subsequently boosting performance, productivity, motivation, communication, and retention – the ripple effect is significant! Here are some ways to increase happiness amongst your workforce.

1. Promoting a culture where work-life balance is at its centre

This can be as simple as setting an example as a leader or showing respect for working times. Everyone is unique and everyone has different priorities, so giving flexibility can actually be essential to overall productivity. Work-life balance is also vital for reducing burnout and improving employee satisfaction.

2. Facilitating mindfulness practices at work

Helping employees build their mental strength can also be key to improving their happiness and building a positive work ethic. Explore mindfulness activities that could be offered in the workplace to help facilitate this.

3. Being transparent and open to promote trust within employees

Mistrust and dissatisfaction can be grown through ambiguous leadership. So, promoting an open and transparent workplace is key to helping employees feel included and respected, promoting a better satisfaction. This includes building open and honest communication pathways which can be done simply through regular 1:1’s, planning weekly team meetings, or adding communication training to the diary.

4. Recognising and rewarding where necessary

If you’re not recognising and rewarding employees, happiness and contentment at work can dramatically fall away. It doesn’t always need to be a pay rise or a merit increase, although these can be effective ways of showing employees that they’re doing a good job. Simply sending an email of thanks or adding in a team lunch for when something has gone well can be enough to boost morale.

5. Offering coaching and development opportunities

Lastly, coaching and development opportunities can be the difference between employee happiness and unhappiness. Growth is key for most individuals, so help them get where they want to be, and you’ll see staff satisfaction is significantly improved.

Boosting personal happiness as an employee

Here are 5 ideas which you, as an individual, could consider including in your path to increasing happiness in both the workplace and outside of it.

1. Accept that stuff happens

Life happens to all of us. The Wi-Fi signal drops. Or your document crashes when you are halfway through. Being happy is about appreciating that we can’t control everything, and unplanned events happen to everyone.

You have a choice in these situations. You can get upset or accept the situation and make the best of it. If the Wi-Fi is down, think, what would be the best option for me dealing with this situation? You can throw the Wi-Fi router out of the window, spend 10 minutes complaining about the IT department, or you could refocus, take a short break for a fresh coffee or water, and get on with phone calls or other tasks on your ‘to do’ list.

2. Think three good things

Many people lie in bed at the end of the day thinking about what they haven’t done or worrying about what they need to do tomorrow. Rumination is one of the largest contributors to unhappiness and to lost productivity. What’s the alternative? Three good things.

At the end of the day, ask yourself the question: what were the three best things that happened to you today? Reflect on each in turn – think about what happened, why it was good and what you felt like. You can take it one step further and write down each of your thoughts and feelings. Finally, turn the light off and go to sleep focusing on your positive experiences. In the short term, this exercise will help you sleep better and feel more rested for the day ahead. In the longer-term, mental strategies like this will help your neural network to pay more attention to the positives in your life, contributing slowly and gradually over time to greater happiness.

3. Use social media less

The average home in the UK now has eight screens. With 80% of men taking their smart device to bed (1). There is good evidence that extended periods on social media lead to wasted time and poor sleep due to the blue screen's effect on brain activity late at night. Here are three simple steps to help: 1. Ban technology from your bedroom. 2. Don't use digital technology after 9pm, and 3. Aim to cut back by 30% the frequency with which you check your phone or favourite social media site during the day.

4. Adopt the rush hour body scan

Most of us waste time sitting in our cars in traffic or waiting for trains. These brief delays provide an ideal opportunity for micro-mediations. Simply focus on your breath and guide your mind through your body, checking out how each part is feeling. Be aware of any tension and let your breath flow into each area of tension. Whether you have 2 minutes or 20 minutes of delay, this can be a useful exercise, which contributes to improved physical health, mental well-being and enhanced concentration.

5. Eat and walk at lunchtime

The idea of a lunch hour has almost disappeared from the world of work. Employers might include an hour in the day when they don't pay employees, but the sandwich at the desk has become the standard lunch for many. To boost happiness, change it up. Try to take 10 minutes away from your desk to eat and, during this time, think about your priorities for the afternoon – write a list of the top three tasks to be completed or try timeboxing these priorities, so they get done. Secondly, take 20 minutes to go for a brisk walk, aim to raise your heart rate. It doesn’t matter where you walk, but this simple exercise will ensure when you return to your desk, you feel ready to refocus your efforts and deliver on your key priorities.

The truth is that happy people are not different, they just have decided to do things differently. They have decided that focusing on the good things in life, rather than the bad things, will bring about a more positive attitude, which ultimately makes them happier and more productive. Take opportunity to coach yourself into a more productive and satisfying 2024 and beyond.


(1) Good, D. J., Lyddy, C. J., Glomb, T. M., Bono, J. E., Brown, K. W., Duffy, M. K., Baer, R. A., Brewer, J. A., & Lazar, S. W. (2016). Contemplating Mindfulness at Work: An Integrative Review. Journal of Management, 42(1), 114-142.

Oades, L., Steger, M., Delle Fave, A. & Passmore, J. (eds.) The Wiley Handbook of Positive Psychology at Work’. New York: Wiley

Passmore, J. & Amit, S, (2017). ‘Mindfulness at work: The practice and science of Mindfulness for leaders, coaches and facilitators” New York: Nova

Jonathan Passmore is SVP EZRA and Professor of coaching and behavioural change at Henley Business School, UK

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