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How To Be Happy At Business School

Happiness could just be the secret to becoming a strong business leader—find out how to forge a path to happiness while at business school

Wed Mar 20 2024

The importance of soft skills such as interpersonal communication in the workplace is increasingly recognized. However, recent research points to another often overlooked factor for success: happiness.

study by Oxford University’s Saïd Business School found a 13% improvement in productivity among happy employees. Companies with a strong emphasis on employee wellbeing and happiness are also associated with better company performance, another study reveals. 

As many business students forge paths into senior management and C-suite positions, prioritizing happiness at business school is not only important for personal wellbeing, but for long-term career success. 

So how are business schools adapting the curricula to this research? And how can you be happier at business school?

Happiness is a skill you can learn at business school

Happiness is a skill that can be learned much like playing the guitar or a new language, according to Selin Kesebir, associate professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School.

Business schools are taking a proactive approach to this discovery with courses that not only teach students how to foster employee wellbeing but to become happier leaders.

Harvard Business School has gained traction for the elective on Leadership and Happiness. Designed to equip students with a competitive edge in the job market and tools to find more satisfaction in their work, the class takes the approach that happy leaders are successful leaders. 

The Harvard course teaches self-awareness and wellbeing strategies, and a leadership model that promotes happiness. 

Other high-ranking business schools such as the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and Columbia Business School offer business electives in Leading a Good Life (Michigan Ross), and Success, Satisfaction, and Sustainability (Columbia). These classes provide practical tools for personal wellness, career success, and fulfillment.

Three top tips for happiness at business school

Business school is a fast-paced and exciting place—these three tips for a happy and productive business school experience can set the foundation for happiness in your career. 

1. Make time for mental and physical wellness

Taking time away from your studies to boost your wellbeing is essential for a positive business school experience.

It will come as no surprise that time spent exercising or socializing is linked to lower cortisol levels. Whether you prefer the endorphin rush from a run, meditating with the help of an app such as Headspace, or picking up a new hobby such as playing the guitar, there are lots of ways to practice wellness.

While it can feel unproductive to take time away from your to-do list, research suggests otherwise. Reducing stress at business school can make great improvements to your focus and concentration levels in the long run and contributes to your overall wellbeing.

2. Keep to a schedule

It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of business school, but embracing routine can give your happiness a surprising boost. According to the World Economic Forum, routines and regular habits support cognitive function and contribute positively to mental health. 

In other words, the more organized you are, the happier you will be. 

Having control over your time with a clear schedule is a great way to reduce stress levels and learn a routine that works for you. When creating a schedule, taking note of important events and deadlines well in advance is important to prevent tasks from piling up in future. Think of the future you. 

Incorporating any personal commitments you have into your schedule, such as fitness classes, social events, or appointments, can help you to effectively prioritize tasks while maintaining a good work-life balance.

3. Reach out when you need help

Recognizing when you need extra support is perhaps the most important aspect to finding happiness at business school.

Business schools are increasingly improving and developing mental health services for students to seek guidance for mental health issues in a safe environment. At London Business School or NEOMA Business School in France, mental health services are also a space for students to explore reasonable adjustments to deadlines or exam conditions.

Business school is home to a range of backgrounds and industries, which means that everyone will have their own strengths and areas to improve. For students seeking academic support, peer learning and study groups can be a great way to boost your performance while reaping the happiness benefits of collaborative learning.

As the latest research into happiness and leadership informs the business curricula of today, business school graduates are shaping the future of positive and high-performing work environments.