How to apply positive psychology at work?

During the European Conference on Positive Psychlogy we (together with Ad Bergsma) will organize a lunch gathering (12.30 – 14.00) on Wednesday July 2. Experts working at several national and international organizations will share their extensive experience in implementing positive psychology at work. Two representatives from each organization will be present to answer your questions.

European Conference on Positive Psychology

European Conference on Positive Psychology

We are very interested to find out what kind of questions practitioners might have. To get a better perspective we will start an advance dialogue on an English and Dutch platform. We hope that this conversation will spill over to the offline lunch session we will have on July the second. Please find the online International platform here and the Dutch platform here.

Looking forward to meeting you either life or online!

Onno Hamburger & Ad Bergsma

Onno Hamburger is author of the book happiness at work; Improve your self leadership skills to flourish at work.  He has extensive experience with implementing happiness at work in organizations. He works as a senior trainer and happiness at work coach. He runs his own company which focuses on happiness at work (

Ad Bergsma is author of happiness at work; Improve your self leadership skills to flourish at work. He is a psychologist, speaker, scientific journalist and happiness researcher. He received his Ph. D. on happiness a the Erasmus University in 2011. (

Barbara Fredrickson happiness at work Onno Hamburger

Barbara Fredrickson receives first copy of Happiness at work

A fragile looking woman in the middle of a crowded conference room. She describes herself as introverted. But looks can be deceiving.

She is a world renowned positive psychology researcher who speaks with great authority and enthousiasm about her subject. She has an impressive list of publications and books in the field of positive psychology. I know of her work already for years but never met her in person. I was delighted she took the time to receive our book. This all happened at a sold out congres on positive psychology in The Netherlands.

Barbara Fredrickson happiness at work Onno Hamburger

On November 11 Barbara Fredrickson received the first copy of our book on happiness at work. 

Love 2.0 by Barbara Fredrickson

The new book by Barbara Fredrickson is about love. Using research from her own lab, Fredrickson redefines love not as a stable behemoth, but as micro-moments of connection between people. In her book she shows that the capacity for experiencing love can be measured and strenghtened in ways that improve our health and longevity. We want to thank Barbara Fredrickson for her encouraging words. Ad and I look forward to support you in your quest to bring the field of positive psychology to the next level.

Happiness at work

The new book Barbara Fredrickson received is a combination of state of the art positive psychology, practical assignments and a personal narative that guides you through the process of becoming happier at work. People who already read the draft of the book mentioned that the book is both practical and evidence based. (Read more quotes here.)


See more from Barbara Fredrickson:

Semler - Happiness At Work - Gelukkig Werken - Organization

Semler on Happiness at Work

Utopia or the new way of organising?

semlerWe are in a crisis. No one can deny that! Part financial crisis but also a crisis to reorganize the way we work. The internet and the economic changes it creates is completely changing the way we work and interact. And we have to do more with fewer people. Markets are changing rapidly or are disappearing all together. This generates fear and insecurity. At the same time we need inspiration, innovation and openness towards new ideas to overcome our challenges in a totally different way.

Success from happiness at work

Ricardo Semler has chosen for years now to focus on trust, openness and love within the organizations he runs. He wants his employees to become happy at work. The result of his focus has been enormous success (and wealth). Can we learn something of his ideas and perhaps even implement them in our own organizations?

Within my own organization we do our utmost to implement Semler’s ideas. Sometimes with great results and at other times we are falling back to old principles like checks and control. How does that work in your organization? Is organizing the Semler way possible or do you think this is fantasy land which might work in sunny Brazil but is doomed to fail in the country you live in. I am really curious about what you think about this!

More on Semler

You don’t know Semler or you want to know more about his ideas? Check out Semler on Happiness in this interview on how he organizes his companies:  

Here you can find a link to his book on Amazon:The Seven-Day Weekend: Changing the Way Work Works

This article was originally published in Dutch on on 8 feb 2013

happiness at work onno hamburger - happy cattle

What could we learn from happy cattle?

Happy Cattle - Lessons for Happiness At Work - New Castle University - Onno Hamburger - happiness coach What is happy cattle?

Research by Newcastle University shows that cows that are named and treated with a more personal touch, feel much more comfortable in their own skin. These so-called  “happy cattle” reward their caretakers by up to 580 liters of extra milk compared to their less fortunate peers.

More milk annually

What could we learn from such happy cows? I’m not the first to point at the relationship between cows and employees. Peters and Pouw write in their wonderful book Intensive Human Husbandry (Dutch title: Intensieve Menshouderij) how more and more organizations start to resemble a kind of factory farming for people.

Division of labor and workplace optimization is central to such workplaces. Peters and Pouw rightly wonder whether such intensive Human Husbandry actually leads to the best output.

In Ford’s time (early 20th century) the division and optimization of work resulted in lots of extra productivity. Workers had to work, after all, with muscle power and the brainpower was best left behind at the company gate.

Just as cows will produce less milk if they are treated as ‘things’, people will respond alike.

Employees who have little autonomy and few meaningful experiences in their daily work become chronically stressed, are more likely to get sick and are less effective.

What differs humans from a cow?

While cows can still be optimally stimulated when they get personal attention, this is but a starting point for man. Few organizations seem to really understand this and apply it in practice. Some organizations, like Google or Ikea seem to get it, consciously or unconsciously. And they’re miles ahead of the competition. These companies managed to create an atmosphere of safety and trust. In addition, they give people lots of room and autonomy to develop themselves. The result is huge commitment and constant innovation by employees.

Development and meaning as protection against stress

Recent recession and associated uncertainty creates a sense of insecurity and anxiety for many employees. Some companies choose to put activities related to personal development and meaning on the back burner. Countering fear must be the first priority.

As is found with cattle, people are less productive with excess of cortisol (stress hormone). Cows with excess cortisol have reduced milk production. With people, such excess leads to reduced resistance and impaired brain functions. Let’s not forget that a sense of purpose and personal development can also lead to the much needed rest and focus.

Many people nowadays are looking for direction and vision. The old days silo structured stories from churches and unions, biased through affiliated newspapers, radio- and television stations have largely disappeared (we call this in Dutch ‘de-pillarisation’). People are thrown back to themselves and are eagerly looking for direction and meaning.

Why are we doing this? Which way should I go? What is the right choice? When you employ people and assist them with answering such questions, you provide highly necessary peace of mind and security. I’d say it is time for a little less focus on material rewards and more attention to intangible rewards such as development opportunities. Eventually this leads to more sustainable happy employees.

Like with our cows this leads to the productivity improvement and innovation of which businesses are direly in search of at this particular moment. And this closes the loop between cattle and people.

This article was originally published in Dutch on on 1 feb 2009