I am a workplace happiness expert, speaker, and bestselling author of Beyond Happiness: How Authentic Leaders Prioritize Purpose and People for Growth and Impact. I' m also the CEO of Delivering Happiness, a company built to create happier company cultures for a more profitable and sustainable approach to business. Delivering Happiness started as a book (NYT and WSJ Bestseller, which sold one million copies worldwide) and evolved into a business consultancy and global movement that has impacted and inspired hundreds of companies and organizations worldwide.

My website is https://jennlim.com/.

I have decades of experience in culture and strategy, and I translate this experience into a practical “how-to” framework for more sustainable workplaces and modern organizational design. I guide everyone —no matter title or role— on how to live more meaningful lives through the work we do every day. My mission is to teach businesses how to create workplaces—led with happiness and humanity—that generate more profit, sustain all people at every level of the organization, and share how we can make a greater impact by being true to our authentic selves.

Ask me anything about the workplace including what creates longterm happiness, why some employees are regretting their Great Resignation career changes, how to align your employees' purpose with your company's purpose, and how creating happiness in the workplace can create a ripple effect out to the community, the country - and beyond!

PROOF: https://i.redd.it/5duilgljo9891.jpg

Comments: 485 • Responses: 22  • Date: 

-ToxicPositivity-662 karma

So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that's on the worst day of my life. Is there any way that you could sort of just zonk me out so that, like, I don't know that I'm at work. Could I come home and think that I've been fishing all day, or something?

Jenn_Lim-90 karma

well if youre a believer in the series called severance then that ability is probably not too far away :] but without knowing exactly when that’ll start happening, i think the more realistic things we can do are the ones that are most in our control (incidentally a form of sustainable happiness). if it’s really that unbearable that you need to get zonked out, id ask myself if im really at the right place to begin with.

even in the most seemingly unexciting jobs out there, youd be surprised how many people in the world actually find meaning and purpose and actually want to go to work. from a custodian in a hospital to the bathroom attendant at a cineplex in LAMA to a receptionist at the doctors office. there are ways to make your job more enjoyable (or relaxing like a day of fishing) if you take the time to understand whats most important to *you* first.

simple example about the receptionist at the doctors office…one of their patients told me he loves going to the doctors office and he realized it’s because he gets to see this receptionist every time. then he realized why…the receptionist’s title printed on her business card is “director of first impressions.” it’s her form of fishing and she owns her role because she wants to.

so if you want to be the chief fishing officer of your work/life, ask yourself what about that gets you excited and think of the different ways you can imbed that in your work days. you might not be at the best job in the world off the bat, but at least youre working your way towards what’s most meaningful (and purposeful) TO YOU...

scarf_spheal76 karma

pretty sure they were referencing that movie "Office Space" but appreciate the effort!

Honclfibr36 karma

Tbf she was probably like -5 when that movie came out.

Jenn_Lim-17 karma

double lol. truth be told i was working my first job out of college when it came out.

-5 might be more accurate in describing the number of years before i had an inkling of what i wanted to do with my life at that time...


Jenn_Lim-18 karma

lol i thought i knew that movie well enough but all i can remember about it right now is the red stapler guy. oh and the "printer scene" [insert hip hop by the geto boys here:]

MelloD178 karma

How do you recover from burnout? I do everything suggested (vacation, eat healthy, exercise, setting boundaries, etc.) but it keeps happening. I’m in the middle of changing jobs but reading job descriptions (of things I used to love doing) now make me feel sick. How can I get over this?

Jenn_Lim-95 karma

it's great that you're doing the right things but if it keeps happening, id ask myself whether it really is burnout or something else (maybe even in addition to burnout).

a sociology term that resurfaced during the pandemic is "languishing." it's not when people are at the extremes of burnout or depression, and they're clearly not in the category of what people call "flourishing" but somewhere in between. when feelings like indifference/apathy/stagnation ladder up to an absence of wellbeing. or the highly technical term...when you're feeling MEH [hahah].

whether its a combo of this and burnout i think the most important thing is to try and identify the emotions youre going through (what exactly does burnout mean to you), acknowledge that it's totally normal (if not expected given the whole world got 2020'd!) and come to terms that in so many ways our global society hasn't had the time to process all of these mega-changes that have happened in our lives. especially when we're still going through the latest news of war, inflation, looming recession and the SCOTUS rulings (no matter where you stand in your opinion).

it's directly impacting our mental/emotional/physical health — bodies and brain. but one thing that ive seen work well is when people take some intentional time to revisit where they are in life. meaning, revisit what it means to be happy and at peace. revisit your purpose and values that you want to live by.

the first thing people notice is how much those things may have changed or stayed the same. and from there it becomes easier to understand why things you used to love is making you sick.

if you're up for it, there's an exercise we call the happiness heartbeats (it's on my website, happy to share it with you for free) that helps you identify your lifetime of highs and your lows, since we can learn what sustainably makes us happy from both. from there, it helps you pull out the values most important to you (now vs 2020 BC ie Before Covid) and can give you context as to why you need to try new ways to nurture your greenhouse since your former anti-burnout activities arent working well anymore.

[good luck...im sure folks around you will learn from what you do too!]

LynxAffectionate340053 karma

I know someone, for real it’s not me, whose employer is showing many signs of cognitive decline (i.e. dementia). The employer is constantly forgetting what they said the week before. They have become suspicious of everyone. They are rude, disrespectful, and combative. They accuse employees of moving stuff, taking items, and thinks everyone is incompetent. Any suggestions?

Jenn_Lim-36 karma

this is actually a familiar and current situation because without naming names and over-generalizing, i know of a well-known, highly-respected figure that is going through something similar.

if the behaviors seem to be recurring and consistent, as experienced from multiple people, i would go to HR to share the observations and ultimately talk to someone that they report to (if it's the CEO id go to the board, another executive and/or someone that person trusts).

since it's such a delicate situation (if it really is dementia) and therefore something out of their control, id be sure to communicate concerns in a way that is mindful and empathetic to that employer and their loved ones, in the same way youre being to your fellow coworkers and how theyre being (negatively) treated and impacted.

whenever in doubt of what to think/say/do we can't go wrong when it's coming from the heart.

ResponsibilityFar78135 karma

Hi Jenn!

how can we motivate employers to take a longer term mindset in investing in employees?

Jenn_Lim-14 karma

theres a couple ways that ive seen to be really effective...

— show them the money. i love CFOs but theyre oftentimes the first to say nay. but time and time again the data speaks for itself. over the last 15 years, the companies ranked high on glassdoor and great places to work financially outperform the s&p500. in other words, companies that double down on people realize that employees are an investment, not an expense. and if you invest in them, they'll invest in you with 2x more likelihood to go above and beyond, be more productive/engaged/creative and 3x more likely to stay at the company (while telling their friends to work there)!

— the other way is to help hold a mirror to their own life. sometimes employers think theyre checking off a box of 'things to do' with culture and people. but they actually start realizing it's in the best interest of their own wellbeing and livelihood, it's no longer just a humanitarian thing to do. whether theyre a manager or CEO, once they start doing these programs and exercises around purpose+values/behaviors they start seeing the benefit of how it'll improve their own professional and personal lives (cant tell you how many times they took these exercises and used them with their families so they can be better parents).

if you still need proof of short- and long-term gain, just carve out a team or project that can test these principles. when they see higher retention, engagement and productivity and happier people? no good leader would tell you to stop (and if they did, its probably not the best place to begin with).

StevenStrawhat31 karma

Is personal happiness worth sacrificing for the greater good?

Jenn_Lim-46 karma

i think once upon a time (actually not too long ago), the perception was that this was the truth. but i don't believe so any longer.

it's understandable why there's been a shift. just a generation or two ago, our families/ancestors were born into situations of needing to put food on the table or living through wars that brought about fight-or-flight states of death and survival.

not to say these dont exist anymore (they obviously do) but the major delta between then and now is that weve had the gift of time to be more intentional about what we read/think/do, we have access to information from people/workplaces/cultures that we can learn from globally and — this is most important — it no longer has to be a zero-sum game. it can be a positive-sum game in that personal and "greater good" happiness can and does co-exist.

its like the oxygen metaphor in planes. as counter-intuitive as it is to put on your oxygen mask first, we knows it's the logical/right thing to do. [maybe we forgot about this because we haven't flown in so long with covid hanging out in the world;]. but the metaphor i really wanted to expand on in my book is to remember to nurture your greenhouse as you grow others.

as leaders we all tend to want to help others but unfortunately it's unsustainable if were not tending to our roots, our needs first.

tiger302326 karma

Have you found any correlation between workplace happiness and compensation or lack thereof?

Jenn_Lim-51 karma

there are several studies out on this and the previous belief was that (at least in the US) happiness caps off at around $75k/year in salary. meaning, when people went above $75k/year their happiness levels would actually go down.

but from what ive seen doesnt really speak to that anymore (especially since the great reset/resignation/awakening of the last 2+ years)

75k is too arbitrary because theres so many other factors to what contributes to happiness — outside of comp and pay. of course, if its too low then directly affects happiness (or lack thereof).

but nowadays comp is just one of the many pieces of the pie that make people happy at work. senses of control/autonomy, progress and connectedness are instrumental in dialing up workplace happiness. employers looking at people as their whole selves — not just a role with skill set — is also impacting workplace happiness. so if employers take in other factors like mental/emotional/physical/relational/financial states of their people, that can dial up happiness too.

the key is to know that we're workplaces made up of individual people and needs. and now more than ever, people want to be heard and understood (to be their best selves and do their best work).

Shipleaves25 karma

Hi Jenn, I'd love to understand how your teachings manifest inside a workplace, i.e. how do your teachings end up being implemented by your customers?

  • Is it a change in processes (e.g. change how meetings run, establish an onboarding process, etc.)?
  • Do you try to make a change in individuals and encourage them to share and spread these ideas (a new mindest, outlook, techniques for dealing with stress)?
  • Is it a set of resources (trainings, worksheets, toolkits, etc.) that circulate throughout the workforce?
  • Is it a structure that incentivizes a happier culture (e.g. reward/promote happy people or people that make others happy)?
  • Is it something else?

Lastly, who drives these changes? Is it management, individuals (grassroots), a combination, or something else (e.g. HR)?


Jenn_Lim-29 karma

wow...such a well-rounded set of questions!

one (lame, typical consultant) answer to your overarching question is simple: it all depends :]

in some ways thats true because each workplace is so unique to their own DNA and culture (whether they recognize they have a culture or not) but to respond directly to your questions...the most truthful answer is d) all of the above [and by your questions it sounds like someone's been doing their homework!]

changes in process are needed to imbed things into the system. otherwise, a company's purpose and values just become fancy words on the wall or website. pretty to look at but not being lived every day.

resources like trainings, workshops, toolkits can be helpful too but like process changes, theyre not as effective unless theres a foundational context as to where all of these things sit. and that to me is codifying culture and the way a company works first by a shared set of purpose + values/behaviors.

that way there's no gray when it comes to a value like, say, Integrity. enron was infamous for what they did while touting their #1 value was integrity. more recently weve seen too many companies violating values that ultimately adversely impact the people that run them and the customers they serve (if you have some binge time, check out wecrashed and the dropout).

when theyre codified that also means people can be accountable for them too...ideally at all levels so senior management/execs are all walking the talk! and thats where your question about the role of incentives come into play. by rewarding and recognizing values/behaviors people will know theyre not just fancy words on the wall, but a commitment to living by them if they want to stay, grow and be "successful" there.

d) all of the above also applies to your question of who drives these changes...it's not just top-down, it's bottom-up and side-to-side. c-level execs need to transparently communicate how high of a priority this is, managers (across all functions, not just HR) need to be given tools/resources on how to imbed them in their day to days and everyone in the company acknowledges they have an active role in contributing to the culture.

we can learn so much from nature, like a flock of birds flying north or pod of dolphins fishing for their dinner — having a common set of goals with accountable roles and shared purpose+values = growth, adaptability and success.

BobLeRoi23 karma

Do you think that having a purpose in life via a job or other type of work endeavor is necessary for happiness? Or will too much free time negatively impact you?

Jenn_Lim-27 karma

i dont think purposeful work is absolutely necessary for a happy life but i do believe it's foundational if you want to be happy in the long run. the most logical reason is because we spend a majority of our waking hours at work, with colleagues and managers that we either feel "stuck" with or actually want to be around because theyre basically good people (a huge plus is when you know you have shared values and purpose, especially as this world tends to focus on what divides us vs what unites us).

i also dont think theres "too much" free time if youre spending that time in ways aligned with whats important to you (as i write about in my book...figuring out what nurtures your own greenhouse as youre growing others)!

thats where the most important "work" comes in. the work you do on yourself, for yourself.

AndremoChrist15 karma

What is your best advice for new leaders?

Jenn_Lim-52 karma

ill first share what the worst advice is for new leaders (because a senior manager told me this at my first job out of school). he told me to start figuring out what to specialize in so i can be the "expert" and guarantee job security. my internal response was "wth...i hardly even know what im doing in life let alone the rest of my life at work!"

that was a while ago now so what new leaders have the "luxury" that we didn't have before is choice. not just one or two but a full spectrum of choices. studies of gen z show they actually have more of a go-getter mindset than generations prior, while being super comfortable in wearing multiple hats because they can and want to.

so id say as a new leader...this is your time to be your own petri dish of life. test away and see what works well and doesnt...youre essentially defining/refining/becoming your authentically purposeful self in the process...

Michael__James420015 karma


Jenn_Lim-11 karma

from a root cause perspective, addiction to porn isnt massively different from addictions to anything — food, exercise, drugs/alcohol or binging on netflix. [but of course, the outcomes of these various addictions show up and affect people in different ways.]

there are the surface-level reasons to addictions (loneliness or stress or boredom), then there are the deeper (root) ones that may have been caused by our genetics, upbringing/environment and the choices weve made. most likely its a combination of them all.

my suggestion is to make time to understand what those root causes are. that way it's not about just focusing on the symptoms, it's about seeing what's happening on a more cellular/micro level. as long as were not causing excessive harm to us/others, doing the work to understand these root causes is one of our highest priorities in understanding ourselves and making the most of the time we have.

and for your second question...personally i was inspired by going through my lows. getting laid off, witnessing 9/11 and hearing my dads diagnosis of stage 3 colon cancer (in my 20s, all in one year) was the tipping point i needed to explore anything that means everything. at that point i knew it wasnt money/title/status anymore, so i was inspired to discover what that might mean for me and the people i love.

thx for the question!

HelenAngel11 karma

Woman-on-woman sexism is a huge problem in the tech industry, especially in game studios. HR doesn’t help & protects the abusers. Is there anything a lower-level woman can do to stop the abuse from her female superiors? Or is changing jobs the only option?

Jenn_Lim1 karma

sorry youre having to go through this u/HelenAngel. coming from a woman that started my career in the tech industry i hear where youre coming from. part of my mentality at that time was to accept the circumstances and make the best of challenging situations but as i grew, i learned that there are lines and boundaries that we draw for ourselves...ones that can't be crossed because they're in conflict with our personal values (and in the end, it's on us to live with our actions or inactions we take).

fast forward to where we are today, i think workplaces are more open than ever for equity and inclusion. knowing changing jobs is always going to be an option, id have conversations with those that are behaving in sexist ways and see how they react. if that's not an option, id have transparent convos with trusted/respected senior folks in your team/company (women or men or non-binary).

from what i've seen, opinions from "lower-level" people are respected by those that see all sides of the situation, with an objective eye and voice to act upon what's best for people and the greater good of the company.

and if that doesnt move the needle, changing your team or job all together would be the blessing in disguise for your own wellbeing and sustainable happiness.

HardcoreHendricks7 karma

Are you happy?

Jenn_Lim-5 karma

definitely one of the most common things i get asked ;] short answer is yes. if i zoom out of my life, im living a happy one because i know it's not about making sure im happy every moment of the day (virtually impossible) but instead, im at peace/happy because days (and therefore life) is made up of our highs and lows. embracing that is a game-changer in what it means to be happy. and going back to the science, most sustainable happiness comes from living our sense of purpose (what am i a part of thats bigger than myself) and values+behaviors+habits that are most near and dear to us (the how).

UnoConejitoBueno5 karma

What courses would you recommend someone take in college if they have an interest in this interdisciplinary field?

Jenn_Lim-8 karma

theres such a huge cross-section of courses and majors that can lead up to this field nowadays. ones that didn’t exist just 5-10 years ago. it’s an exciting time! some of the more traditional ones would be psychology or behavioral sciences, but now there are entire programs around positive psychology (e.g. upenn) and historically “most popular classes” around happiness and the science of it (e.g. yale, harvard).

organizational design also helps because you get to understand how there are systems that run organizations and keep them together (some better than others), which helps us figure out how we can build these systems so that every individual/employee/person can be their authentic self...knowing that people at their best self do their best work (productive/engaged/creative), so that everyone (the employer, employee, customers and everyone in their ecosystem) wins too :]

myperfectmeltdown32 karma

Can you ever…ever just give a short concise answer? For example, in regards to this question could you lay out five or ten subject courses which could help this questionnaire out? Skip the pontificating; just list some courses. Thanks in advance.

Jenn_Lim-39 karma

yep...just read my response ;]

carlyte3 karma

What general advice would you offer to an employer who wanted to form better culture? What are some of root causes companies see due to relatively short tenure compared to industry peers?

Thank you in advance!

Jenn_Lim-11 karma

a good "best next step" to a better culture is defining (or revisiting) your org's purpose and being inclusive in the process (asking your teams and employees to define or revisit their own too).

from there, you can delve into values and behaviors but this is the time+place to lead that conversation on purpose. especially as were witnessing the great resignation/reset/reawakening, so many people are feeling a little lost or disillusioned with not just work, but life in general.

the latest research from great place to work shows that people are 3x more likely to stay at a company if they dont feel like its "just a job." shorter tenures happen when people feel like they're not feeling heard and understood in a world that gets increasingly complex.

but if people feel like employers genuinely care and are wanting to invest in them for the long term (e.g. microsoft, accenture, amex), and employees are encouraged to align their own personal purpose with that of the organization, thats when theres a true sense of commitment...from both sides.

thx for the question!

lunarmedic2 karma

I work in a workplace that prioritises happiness and individual development. It's really awesome and I wouldn't want to work anywhere else.

Though, there are (I guess always) a few people who really, really don't do well in the company, they underperform, actively try to do as little as possible and complain about their lives a lot. Because of that they also have a hard time bonding with coworkers.

Because my company prioritises people, they do not fire them, instead they let them do more and more (expensive) courses to make them "find themselves", in addition to external career advisors and professional mental support. But this has been going on for years now, for the same few people, who seem to have zero growth...

My question is, when is the point of taking your losses as a company and to let someone go, because they really aren't at their place? Or, what would you do in this situation?

Jenn_Lim-1 karma

kudos on working at a place that prioritizes the fundamentals!

in some ways what you're describing is a good problem to have (since so many workplaces aren't prioritizing the same things!) — but it's still a problem in any case. ive seen many instances where things get a little too comfortable and people at every level (sr execs, managers, colleagues) get taken advantage of.

this is where i believe true practice of diversity, equity and inclusion come in. specifically the sense of equity so that everyone feels heard and understood, but not treated unfairly from one person to another.

whats helpful to communicate that there is no one person that the company relies completely (not even the ceo) and if anyone's hindering growth of the team or the whole org, it's not fair to the others' loss of autonomy, progress, connectedness and of course, happiness.

by having regular checkins, say every quarter, it should be transparent/in the know whether an individual is growing or not. if after multiple attempts through things like coaching and testing new directions/areas of growth, i think it's fair (to the company and everyone in it) to work on a transition plan towards a place that would be more conducive to that person's growth.

Jenn_Lim-9 karma

btw everyone — taking a quick break from responding to say thanku for such thoughtful questions! impressed by the transparency and authenticity :]