Whilst a glum-faced factory worker doesn’t impact how many units they could make of whatever it is they were making, the expectation these days is that people ‘perform happy’ on the job. So much so, that we would notice a waiter, or barista if they had a sour face. We would probably even notice if our colleagues, tapping away at their computers, were not as chipper as we had come to expect them to be.
Consider that these days, especially in HR, that it’s not unusual to see job titles like ‘Head of Keeping People Happy’ or ‘Chief Happiness Officer’ – its hard to disagree with the idea that most of us are in organisations where the baseline expectation is that people are happy at work. And happiness, in HR circles at least, has become conflated with the idea of better engagement – which is currently seen as one way of improving ‘sluggish’ UK productivity.
Yet, having to be happy all the time, Woodcock explains, can lead to “emotional dissonance”. “When I worked in a call centre, there were many days when I was not happy…but you still have to maintain that positive manner and that is incredibly psychologically draining,” he adds.