Arbejdsglaede. Go ahead, try to pronounce it. Even with phonetic help (say, “ah-bites-gleh-the”), the word rolls off the tongue like a mouth full of marbles. And it sounds about the same.
You’ve probably never heard of Arbejdsglaede because, well, it’s Danish, but more importantly, there’s not an English equivalent. The word simply doesn’t exist outside of Scandinavia. Arbejdsglaede means happiness at work, and maybe it’s no surprise that it comes from the country that created Lego.
Arbejdsglaede even has its own ambassador, Alexander Kjerulf, a Danish author and motivational speaker who bills himself as the Chief Happiness Officer. In his book, Happy Hour is 9 to 5: How to Love Your Job, Love Your Life and Kick Butt at Work, he contends that happiness can generate efficiency, innovation and financial success within an organization.
Kjerulf is careful to note that happiness at work is not the same as job satisfaction. It’s not what you think about your job (it pays well, the benefits are good, the commute is short), it’s how you feel about your job (you make a difference, you like your colleagues, you enjoy coming in each morning).
Arbejdsglaede may be a foreign concept in the U.S., but it seems to be working in the part of the world that created it. In the 2013 World Happiness Report released last month by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Scandinavian countries occupied the top five spots: Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Netherlands and Sweden, respectively. The U.S. was 17th.
We’d love to hear what you’re doing to create Arbejdsglaede at your office. Leave a comment and spread some happiness!