The importance of happiness

Dom Boon

March 20, 2017

“….for us, our employees matter most. It just seems common sense to me that if you start off with a happy, well-motivated workforce, you’re much more likely to have happy customers. And in due course, the resulting profits will make your shareholders happy….” Sir Richard Branson.  

This famous quote from Sir Richard Branson is commonly used to push the case for investing in people, managing employee engagement and creating a happy and well-motivated workforce. But what is the step that goes before that?

As a manager and a leader, how do you make your team happy and well motivated? There is a lot of great thinking on the psychology of motivation.

Perhaps the most credible example is by Daniel Pink in his book ‘Drive’, the main points of which are captured in an animated talk that has been watched on YouTube an incredible 15.5 million times.

The three principles of mastery, autonomy and purpose that are explained in this talk are elements that we already place a lot of emphasis on within our culture at Virgin Media. Our people received nearly 600,000 hours of training in 2016 and we are rapidly expanding our digital learning offering through our #AlwaysLearning campaign.

We try to give our people the freedom to be themselves at work and our Field Technicians and Contact Centre agents are encouraged to do the right thing for our customer and they are never scripted. Surveys have shown us that our strategy and purpose are the number one driver of engagement at Virgin Media and our ambition to connect more people to our network and make good things happen is a great example of that.

Happiness is a slightly more complicated concept. After all, it’s an emotion.

If we are putting the principles of mastery, autonomy and purpose at the heart of our culture then it should make our people motivated and in turn, make them happy. However, there is more to life than just work!

When I think of true happiness it makes me think of my wife, daughters and wider family. In order to be happy at work, our people usually need to be happy at home. There is a very warm and human side to working at a Virgin company – talking to each other about what we like to do outside of work, learning about each other’s families, hearing holiday stories and looking at holiday snaps and supporting each other when the occasional family crisis occurs.


One of my happiest moments at work was a few years ago when I came back from paternity leave to be gifted with an enormous teddy bear by my manager. My newborn daughter learned to love that teddy and he is still an important member of our family. Now that was something that made me happy. What’s more, it’s also increased my motivation. That kind and sincere gesture made me want to work harder for my manager, harder for our customers and harder for our shareholders.

Happy International Happiness Day!


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