The Science of Buying Happiness at Work

by Scott Crabtree

What are some ways of buying happiness? According to research, once your basic needs are met, money only makes a sizable difference if you spend it very wisely.

In If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy, Then You Aren’t Spending it Right, Daniel Gilbert, et al. site numerous studies to support their eight principles for spending money to boost happiness.

Based on the research, we suggest spending money at work these ways in order to to boost happiness:

  • Spend on People – Spend money, time, energy and more on other people and their needs. Spending on others boosts moods and relationships. Those who spend on others report greater happiness than those who spend on themselves.
  • Spend on Experiences – Spend your money on experiences, such as work events, to build great memories and relationships. Spending on experiences tends to bring happiness before, during and after the event. Research has shown that spending on experiences consistently results in greater happiness than making material purchases.
  • Spend on the Future – Spend on something that will arrive in the future. Bonus points if it’s something that is shared with other people. Spending on the future boosts our mood with anticipation.

What does this all mean for the workplace? You can also the happiness of your whole team by spending money and resources in ways that make people feel valued, that build relationships through shared experiences, and that increase anticipation for the future.

So how about scheduling for the future a fun celebration of progress to happen with your team? Are you good at buying happiness at work? What’s worked for you? How can you spend money and resources in ways that boost your happiness and the happiness of your team?