According to Matt Zimmer, CEO of Flash Global, management must make passion a clear priority for the organization. A company with happy, engaged employees is more than a great place to work.

HBR and Gallup research reveal that it’s also more profitable and successful: positive work cultures are more productive, and “hidden costs” of low workforce engagement include reduced productivity, higher absenteeism, more employee errors, increased healthcare costs, staff turnover, and lower stock prices.

 

If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are — if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.

Joseph Campbell – American writer 

 

Finding bliss and happiness in the organizational context means working with individuals to find their strengths and weaknesses so that their jobs are fulfilling. 

You want to help people find things they love at work, so they’re excited to come to the office rather than finding reasons not to be there.

Marcus Buckingham

Happiness makes people 12% more productive at work, according to research from the University of Warwick in four different experiments with more than 700 participants.

Professor Andrew Oswald, Dr. Eugenio Proto and Dr. Daniel Sgroi from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick led the research.
During the experiments a number of the participants were either shown a comedy movie clip or treated to chocolate, drinks and fruit. Others were prompted about sad encounters and life events, to assess whether lower levels of happiness were later associated with lower levels of productivity.

Professor Oswald said: “Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%, they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.”
Dr. Sgroi added: “The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.”
Dr. Proto said “We have shown that happier subjects are more productive, the same pattern appears in four different experiments. This research will provide some guidance for management in all kinds of organizations, they should strive to make their workplaces emotionally healthy for their workforce.”

Tim Kuppler, co-founder of CultureUniversity.com and Director of Culture and Organization Development for Human Synergistics, reports on an interview with Jenn Lim, CEO of Delivering Happiness.
Jenn Lim started Delivering Happiness with Tony Hsieh of Zappos after Tony wrote the best-selling book by the same name and they are building a community with the greater goal of nudging the world towards passion, purpose, and a happier place.

happiness is the “purpose of our existence and it’s dependent on ourselves.”

Jenn Lim believes we are reaching a tipping point with people understanding the concept of happiness. She thinks it’s ironic considering it’s in the American Declaration of Independence with “the pursuit of happiness,” and even Aristotle in 200 BC said that happiness is the “purpose of our existence and it’s dependent on ourselves.”

People are realizing there is more to life than money, title, and status and she says they want to do something about it.

According to Matt Zimmer, while managers all say they want great teams with passionate, talented employees, but there has to be more than the low-level awareness that creating a standout team is a good goal to achieve.

Instead, managers need to have a genuine desire to make it happen. Words aren’t strong enough in this case; actions are what are necessary – from mapping out what it takes to get there to executing those steps.

Discovering an employee’s strengths and weaknesses requires one-on-one communication and must be a positive conversation. Plan to hold at least two to three meetings with each person and then use this input to rebalance job roles and responsibilities, allowing for diversity of thought, so that people spend approximately 80% of their time doing tasks they love.

As people grow and evolve, their preferences and passions do too, so this is an exercise to revisit regularly to keep your team performing at its best. Realigning responsibilities and reorganizing teams takes time, but the result pays off: happier, passionate, more engaged team members.

Happiness as a business model

When asked about this connection, she referred to a simple equation:

We believe that if you have happier employees you will actually have happier customers and then you will have long-term, more sustainable companies and brands.”

Happiness increases productivity, creativity, and engagement. It’s no longer a nice to have but “a necessary thing in order to keep innovating and to keep up with what’s happening in the marketplace.”

Insights on delivering happiness

She shared numerous insights on the subject of delivering happiness including:

It starts with core values. She called core values the DNA of an organization and shared an interesting story about the movement of birds, bees, and fish from Wired magazine. The one big difference in movement was alignment. When one bird moved the whole flock would move in the same direction. In an organizational setting, individuals should be able to act on their own and display their “weird unique selves” while still “behaving as a single company all flying in the same direction toward the same goals.” Core values are the foundation that connects everyone together.

The art and science of core values. The Zappos focus on core values is well-know so I asked her to share a less visible, but yet very important, aspect of their focus on core values and she said it is “the art and science of core values.” It’s possible to “suck the fluffiness out of happiness” and make it real, measurable, and tangible. It’s important to measure the correlation between the happiness of employees and “the ultimate success of the company.” Delivering Happiness has partnered with Nic Marks to create the Happy Business Index to measure aspects of happiness. It’s also important realize there is an art of “letting things happen on their own – that’s when you really see the creativity and innovation of the people who see and do it every day.”

Happiness should be an integrated part of our strategy and business priorities. She said it should change the conversations and our perspective we have at high levels. It’s not about “a fridge full of Red Bull.” The secret to making it concrete is to “integrate it in a way that happiness doesn’t need to be in your face but it’s blended in with what you need to do from a day-to-day perspective” to reach your goals.

A commitment to happiness is needed. One of her greatest lessons learned at Delivering Happiness is that some organizations get off to a fast start and things deteriorate when they rest on their laurels. Her advice is that “it’s not easy” and it takes a commitment. You must be “committed to this notion of running a values-driven or culture-driven organization whether times are good or bad. If economic tides go up or down, are you going to be committed to it? She thinks that’s the “number one lesson everyone can learn about how to make this successful and sustainable.” Some companies see it as the “word of the day” but “it should be more about building a sustainable business and letting the data speak for itself.”

There are clear levers to increase a person’s happiness.

These levers include:

  • Sense of progress – “Is a person developing in their role or in their life?”
  • Sense of control – “Is a person making decisions and are those decisions being executed on or at least considered?”
  • Connectedness – “The depth and breadth of relationships in your work and life.”
  • Having passion and flow – “Flow is a psychological term that describes something you are so engaged in that it feels like minutes have gone by but in reality it’s actually been hours. How you create that sense of flow in the workplace is basically when you have the level of challenge meeting your level of skill.” We should think about how we can work together and “group teams of people to have that sense of flow so they really want to be engaged in their work.”
  • Sense of higher purpose and meaning (ultimately the most important element) – “What are you doing that is greater than yourself? What is your personal higher purpose and is that aligned with your company higher purpose?”

Jenn Lim emphasised that most companies have values in some form but about 80 percent are not living by them.

Every year Zappos asks their employees to submit two or three paragraphs about what the Zappos culture means to them. Those answers are published unedited, except for grammatical and spelling errors, in a Zappos Culture Book for everyone to see.

When a company has values already we say – well you have your values and your purpose but are you living by them?

We go through this exercise of asking how can you exemplify if you are living them?

It may be time to revisit your purpose and values to see if your employees are really aligned with them.

 

Her final advice: “you need to figure out your unique DNA, your unique purpose, and vision and values that are true to yourself as a company.”

The Workplace Happiness eBook

Ask employees around the world what makes them happy at work.