How to Achieve Happiness as a Grants Professional: Create a Healthy Work Environment

From the ancient Greeks to the present, we have debated the meaning of happiness.  Today, there is a renewed interest in this subject from economists, political scientists, and psychologists.  What makes people happy, and how might grants professionals achieve a feeling of well-being inside and outside the workplace?

If social capital and not income or commodities is the most important source of happiness and life satisfaction for grants professionals, then I think we need to re-examine the way we work and live.

About 70 percent of our feelings of hap­piness are based on the quality of our social relationships with families, friends, neigh­bors, and co-workers. This is the single most important conclusion about the connection between social relationships and a sense of satisfaction and well-being.

Paid employ­ment has a strong impact on the well-being of most adults. When em­ployees are satisfied with their work conditions, job performance improves, absenteeism declines, company loyalty increases, and there is less uncoop­erative and destructive behavior on the job.

Well-being declines in the workplace when jobs combine very high demands with little opportunity for personal control and autonomy. This is the most common cause of job-related stress. At the same time, the anxiety associated with this kind of work en­vironment inhibits employees from learning new skills and knowledge and being able to change their approach when confronted with new requirements.

There are numerous ways in which grant pro­posal professionals can create more well-be­ing in their workplaces. I will mention just a few.

I am constantly appalled by the poor working conditions of many grant proposal professionals. Too many of them spend long days in small cubicles or in cramped general office space, of­ten in rooms with bare walls and no windows. I am not sure which is more depressing, putting people into such bleak, inhospitable work environments or accepting these work conditions as a fact of life. All of us need privacy – to think, to daydream, to call our children when they come home from school, or to dispute a cred­it card purchase that mysteriously turned up on our monthly bill.

Nonprofit organizations should strive to find comfort­able accommoda­tions for their grant professionals. Treating grant professionals decently means providing a work environment with at least a modicum of privacy. Anything less is an affront to or­dinary human dignity. When organizations act kindly toward their grant professionals, they encourage grant professionals to act kindly toward everybody else.

Strong social capital is based on reciprocity and a sense of fairness, which includes the provision of an adequate work environment.

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