Inequality Breeds Unhappiness
In America (and also in other countries), an impressive postwar rise in material well-being has had zero effect on personal well-being. The divergence between economic growth and subjective satisfaction began decades ago. Real per capita income has more than tripled since the late 1950s, but the percentage of people saying they are very happy has, if anything, slightly declined.
Although moral philosophers may wish Homo sapiens were wired more rationally, we humans are walking, talking status meters, constantly judging our worth and social standing by comparing ourselves with others today and with our own prior selves.
Why are people in some countries happier than others? What factors contribute to happiness and how can we improve happiness at home and in the workplace? We can apply lessons from the happiest countries in the world on how to be happy.
Listen and Learn
What are the Happiest Countries?
The U.N.’s World Happiness Report, which ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels and 117 countries by the happiness of their immigrants (and also serves as an antidote to our unhealthy obsession with Gross Domestic Product), is typically topped by Nordic countries. In 2018 Finland took the top spot as the happiest country. The rest of the top ten in order of overall happiness were Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia.
The U.S. ranked 18th, dropping down four spots from last year. Sachs explained, “The U.S. happiness ranking is falling, in part because of the ongoing epidemics of obesity, substance abuse and untreated depression.”Read More
If you’re reading this blog post, it’s probably because you care about employee appreciation and you may be wondering how digital feedback platforms can help (and which ones could be a good fit for your company).
Why Employee Appreciation Matters
In a Workplace article on Gallup’s website examining the impact of employee recognition, writers Annamarie Mann and Nate Dvorak point out:
Beyond communicating appreciation and providing motivation to the recognized employee, the act of recognition also sends messages to other employees about what success looks like. In this way, recognition is both a tool for personal reward and an opportunity to reinforce the desired culture of the organization to other employees
Three words are key when it comes to employee appreciation according to Gallup’s results: honest, authentic and individualized. Read on to learn how digital feedback platforms can help make employee appreciation a daily work habit.Read More
On September 3, the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, will launch a new online course, “The Science of Happiness at Work.” Based on the center’s hugely popular free course “The Science of Happiness,” this new course will teach attendees why it matters so much to promote happiness in the workplace and how to do it. As the center puts it:
People who are happier at work are more committed to their organization, rise to positions of leadership more rapidly, are more productive and creative, and suffer fewer health problems. More and more, research is suggesting that happiness should not be an afterthought for workplaces; it should be an essential goal, entwined with the kinds of 21st century skills that are key to individual and organizational success today.
And a key element of happiness in the workplace is gratitude. In fact, gratitude is a key element of happiness anywhere, according to decades of research on the subject. As researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky — author of the bestselling The How of Happiness and The Myths of Happiness — explains in this short video, gratitude does a number of things to pave the way for happy feelings.Read More
Thinking about building an employee wellness program?
They’re still quite popular with businesses looking for perks that will benefit both workers and leadership. Per HR Dive, in a 2017 study by Virgin Pulse, 85 percent of employers surveyed said their wellness programs were good for employee engagement, recruitment, retention, and overall company culture. More than just offering exercise- and diet-related options, these programs are increasingly incorporating mental-health components as well. That shift has proven popular with employees, 85 percent of whom say they want help managing stress.
That said, employee wellness programs are far from a magic bullet. Further research reported by HR Dive reveals that while 56 percent of employers think building an employee wellness program has made their employees healthier, only 32 percent of those employees concur with that assessment. And in another survey, 55 percent of employers claimed to offer wellness programs, but only 36 percent of employees said they were aware of those programs.
If your company is interested in building an employee wellness program, you’ll want to think hard about what kinds of wellness are most meaningful to your workers. You also want to design a program your employees will actually use and that has practical benefits for the company as a whole.Read More
As National Friendship Day 2018 approaches on August 5th, it’s the perfect time to reflect on how companies can cultivate workplace friendships and why workplace friendships are important.
In an article about workplace friendships for L & D Daily Advisor, writer Lin Grensing-Pophal cites a Gallup Q-12 employee engagement assessment tool which asks the questions, “Do you have a best friend at work?” Why ask that question? Well, research by Gallup indicates that having a best friend in the workplace correlates with higher job satisfaction rates AND a reduction in the likelihood that an employee will depart to find a different job.
Sadly, a New York Times opinion piece by Adam Grant indicates that the number of employees who say they have a friend (not even a best friend) in the workplace is declining.
When It Comes to Employee Perks, Trendy Is Out.
What kind of employee perks are you offering?
A study from Oregon State University, cited in HR Dive, has found that at least one trendy workplace “extra” probably isn’t doing recruiters much good: Companies that tout in-office happy hours and other opportunities to drink alcohol can turn off certain job candidates.
And those candidates who are fine having drinks on the company tab don’t care enough for it to make a real difference in whether they take the job. So unless there’s good reason for drinking to be a significant part of your corporate culture, there’s little benefit to plugging alcohol among your employee perks.
In fact, research in general has shown that most job candidates aren’t interested in flashy, hip, or faddish employee perks. The savviest candidates — in other words, the ones you may well want working for you — see through the hype. Wellness programs, another fashionable perk, are often more popular with employers than with the employees who are supposed to take advantage of them, another HR Dive post notes. The post suggests that customization — finding ways to mold perks more closely to employees’ individual needs — is key.
Indeed, what both current workers and job candidates want are employee perks that demonstrate an employer’s appreciation for them. As we’ve mentioned, appreciation is about seeing people as individuals and treating them as more than just their job titles. Really, your whole hiring process should be designed to show appreciation for candidates, HR Dive points out:
If a recruitment process lacks personal interaction, applicants may assume that, once hired, they’ll be just another cog in the wheel. And that’s not a great impression to give if you’re looking for employees who can stand out.
And the employee perks you offer should be in line with that philosophy, as well. Rather than trendy, your perks should be aimed at recognizing that employees have a larger life beyond the time they spend working for you.Read More
As a leader you’re probably getting pulled in a million different directions and your time is in short supply. But the time you spend really being present in a sincere, mindful and purposeful way when interacting with your employees and recognizing them for their efforts and contributions is time well-spent.
With a bit of effort you can break some bad habits and start embracing some new practices and ways of thinking that can help boost morale (and ultimately your bottom line). Read on for straightforward ways to maximize employee recognition time.Read More
Being a Good Citizen Is Good for Employers and Workers
Being a good citizen is good for business — in more than one way. Last year, Harvard Business Review reported on the beneficial effects when employees engage in “citizenship behaviors.” That’s another way to say going above and beyond: “helping out coworkers, volunteering to take on special assignments, introducing new ideas and work practices, attending non-mandatory meetings, putting in extra hours to complete important projects, and so forth.”
Research has found that employees who voluntarily demonstrate citizenship behaviors tend to find their work more meaningful. They also perform better and improve their companies’ performance, as well. For all of these reasons, smart employers want to encourage being a good citizen at their companies.
HBR’s recommendation is to promote “citizenship crafting,” or offering workers the opportunity to figure out how their own strengths and preferences can best be utilized to add value to the business. The idea is straightforward: When employees can help in ways they find personally satisfying and that align with their own values and goals, the help will be better and come more frequently. This is also a relief for managers, who don’t have to push so hard when extra help is needed.
But we know that being a good citizen matters to employees in the more literal sense, too. HR Dive cites two different studies showing that workers overwhelmingly want to work for companies that make a positive difference in the world. Sustainable Brands shared similar findings in a 2016 post:
Nearly three-quarters of employees (74 percent) say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided with opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues – and seven-in-10 (70 percent) would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to important issues. Corporate responsibility (CR) is also a significant consideration for candidates when deciding which job to take:
- 58 percent consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work
- 55 percent would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if the salary was less
- 51 percent won’t work for a company that doesn’t have strong social or environmental commitments
Employers can use the same basic idea behind citizenship crafting to motivate employees to get out and serve their communities, too. By encouraging them to find their own ways of being a good citizen, and giving them the necessary time and support, you can enable your workers to help in places beyond the office — leading to greater satisfaction with themselves and with you. And for many businesses, summer is the perfect time to start thinking in this direction!Read More
Shared experiences among co-workers are instrumental when it comes to building strong and effective teams. Don’t forget to include remote workers when communicating, collaborating and creating shared experiences – they are an important part of your team too!
In an article on shared experiential learning on HR Dive, author Tess Taylor explains the basics:
Employees benefit from having a common experience during the learning process. This social interaction helps individuals digest new concepts and gives them an opportunity to learn from each other.
When employees have shared learning experiences, this can create a common experience that generates conversation and learning even after the event has passed.
Shared experiences give people a chance to learn about each others norms, emotional cues and working habits. Apparently experiences that combine the right balance of meaning and stress seem to be the most effective. For example “light meaning” and “light stress” events like a happy hour can produce small increases in bonding while others with “high stress” and “high meaning” like boot camp can quickly achieve exponential affects in bonding.
Activities like team dinners, intense workout classes, improv classes and volunteer events can help team members learn about each other’s personalities and break down some of the awkwardness of working together. An engaged team is a strong team. They understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and can problem solve more effectively.
On the flip side, shared experiences that are high stress with little meaning like hazing are negative, not appropriate and should be avoided.Read More