happiness at work

The 5 Languages of Appreciation: Motivating Employees by Developing a Culture of Appreciation (Part 2)

Happy Employees Shaking Hands

In this post, we pick up the conversation about Dr. Paul E. White and Dr. Gary Chapman’s The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace begun in our last post.

The 5 Languages of Appreciation

Words of Affirmation

This is the most common form of appreciation expressed in the workplace, and it is especially important to practice with individuals whose primary language of appreciation is verbal praise.

Here are a few ways to apply words of affirmation in the workplace:

  1. Praise individual employees for specific accomplishments.
  2. Notice and affirm personal character traits.
  3. Focus on positive personality traits that benefit the workplace.

When you praise positive behavior, the employee is more likely to repeat that behavior.

Praise and recognition can be public or private; introverted employees may prefer a quieter approach, while others will feel most appreciated when praise is shared in front of coworkers.

Individual, one-on-one expressions of appreciation are the most valued and thus the most effective approach. Sending emails or texts thanking an employee for a particular project or praising a specific characteristic are also effective. In a world where nearly all written communication is digital, handwritten notes can be especially meaningful.

Quality Time

If an employee’s language of appreciation is quality time, she will respond positively to the following actions:

  1. Offer your undivided attention, like so:
    • Maintain eye contact while talking.
    • Don’t multitask.
    • Listen for thoughts and feelings.
    • Affirm those feelings—even if you disagree.
    • Observe body language and respond accordingly.
    • Don’t interrupt (the average person listens 17 seconds before interrupting—try to beat that record).
  2. Find opportunities to create shared experiences.
  3. Engage in small group dialogue.
  4. Be in close physical proximity while accomplishing projects.

Working side by side on a shared goal creates a sense of quality time, even if you are working independently.

Physical presence isn’t enough to create a sense of quality time, however—you need to be emotionally present, too.

Acts of Service

For those who value acts of service, actions speak louder than words. Here are several ways to express appreciation to those who fall into this category:

  1. Ask if they want help.
  2. Offer your service voluntarily.
  3. Cultivate a cheerful attitude while helping out.
  4. Do it their way (you want them to feel the task is done “right”; otherwise, the service could backfire and make them feel they’d be better off doing it themselves).
  5. Complete what you start so they’re not left with an unfinished task (or warn them in advance that you can only help with a portion of the project, asking if they still want your help).

Receiving Gifts

A thoughtfully chosen gift suited to the individual can have an enormous impact on people whose primary language is tangible gifts. On the other hand, a poorly selected gift can give offense.

We are not talking about raises or monetary gifts; it has to be personal to the individual for it to be perceived as an expression of appreciation.

Here are a few tips on gift-gifting:

  1. Reserve gifts for those who list gifts as their primary or secondary language as gifts will likely have little impact on others.
  2. Give a gift the person values.
  3. Gifts are not always a thing; it can also be an experience like tickets to the theatre or a favorite sporting event.
  4. Time off from work can be a greatly appreciated gift.

Physical Touch

While there can be appropriate expressions of physical touch in the workplace—a friendly high-five, pat on the back, handshake, fist bump, hand on the shoulder or hug during a personal tragedy—this appreciation language is the trickiest to apply in a work environment.

The interpretation of touch varies widely according to individuals, the organizational subculture, and a person’s history with abuse. The risk of physical touch being perceived as sexual harassment is high in a culture where touch has been so highly sexualized.

Our research reveals that touch is the least important language for the workplace setting. Individuals who may have a primary language of physical touch in their romantic relationship may have an entirely different language in the workplace.

For those who do value touch as an expression of appreciation, however, affirming, non-sexual touches can be important.

The safest way to tell whether touch is an appropriate form of expression for that individual is to observe the employee’s behavior to see if he uses physical touch as an expression of appreciation to others. If a person stiffens in response to touch, that’s a good indication they are uncomfortable being touched.

3 Ways to Discover a Person’s Primary Language

Three-quarters of people intuitively express appreciation in their own language. This raises two significant points: 1) you can usually guess a person’s language of appreciation by observing how they express it to others and 2) just because you convey appreciation through your preferred language does not mean the recipient will feel appreciated. If you do not share the same language, the expression will fall on deaf ears.

To informally assess a person’s language of appreciation:

  1. Observe their behavior.
  2. Listen to their requests.
  3. Notice what they complain about (this usually reveals emotional hurts related to their language of appreciation).

MBA Inventory

Chapman and White developed the Motivating by Appreciation (MBA) inventory to help individuals and organizations assess employees’ languages of appreciation. It costs $10 to take the standard test, but you will get an access code for free with your purchase of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.

After completing the MBA inventory, you will receive a report detailing your primary language, secondary language, and least valued language. The report also contains an action action checklist that others can reference as they learn how to express appreciation to you.

Individuals may wish to take the MBA inventory and then forward the report to their supervisors to open the lines of communication about appreciation.

Even better is if an organization decides to embark on an assessment process together. I would be happy to help facilitate the assessment and implementation process. If you are interested, give me a call at 541-601-0114 or email chris@capiche.us.

More Details

Visit the Appreciation at Work website for a list of resources, assessments, training tools and videos on the research presented in The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.

Your Results

If you take the MBA inventory, tell us how it goes! We’re eager to hear how communicating appreciation plays out in your workplace and life.

Wednesday
18
June 2014
Tagged , , , , , , ,

The 5 Languages of Appreciation: Motivating Employees by Developing a Culture of Appreciation (Part 1)

Circle of Happy Coworkers

We’ve been exploring how understanding people’s primary love languages can help us develop stronger relationships in both our personal and professional lives. Now it’s time to examine those principles specifically in the context of the workplace.

For years, Dr. Gary Chapman had been wanting to apply the concepts developed in The 5 Love Languages to the workplace, but it wasn’t until he met psychologist and organizational consultant Dr. Paul E. White that he knew he’d found the right coauthor for this project. Their research culminated in The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People.

The Value of Appreciation

7 Habits of Highly Effective People author Steven Covey argues that psychological survival—feeling appreciated, understood, and affirmed—comes second only to physical survival in human needs.

Even so, employers who are myopically focused on the bottom line may not recognize the value of cultivating appreciation in the workplace. As we’ve repeatedly discussed in this blog, however, the recent wave of scientific research on happiness teaches us that investing in employee happiness, job satisfaction, and strengths yields higher profits and productivity, making this a win-win goal for everyone at the organization.

Why People Leave

A four-year study conducted by one of the leading exit interview firms reveals that managers could not be more wrong about the reasons employees leave. As many as 89% of managers believe employees leave their company for monetary reasons, but the fact is only 12% reported money as their cause of departure. A staggering 88% of employees said they left for other reasons—the number one cause being not feeling valued.

This is not an unusual phenomenon. Nearly 70% of US employees reported to Gallup that they receive no praise in the workplace. This lack of recognition creates a climate of discouragement and makes it difficult for organizations to retain quality employees.

According to research, employees favor recognition by supervisors over colleagues by a 2:1 margin. When that recognition is withheld, emotionally starved employees may start looking elsewhere for fulfillment.

The High Cost of Turnover

It is estimated that the cost of labor turnover on the US economy is $5 trillion a year. The loss of productivity, eroding morale, and time involved in hiring and training takes a hefty toll on an organization, especially when turnover is frequent. Far more cost-effective would be to invest in the people already there.

Managers’ Concerns

Employees who do not feel emotionally supported by their supervisors are far more likely to experience burnout. Employee turnover not only damages morale but also the financial health of the company.

In polling organizational leaders, White and Chapman discovered that managers’ five greatest concerns about employees are:

1) employees getting discouraged

2) employees experiencing burnout

3) employees feeling overwhelmed

4) the organization losing the positive culture built up over the years

5) managers not knowing how to encourage employees with limited financial resources

Developing an environment of appreciation helps combat all of these concerns.

Authenticity Is Key

Retaining your best employees begins with genuine, individual expressions of appreciation in the employee’s preferred language. Efforts to express appreciation must be specific to that person.

Authenticity is key. That’s why attempts to institute a companywide recognition policy often backfire—if expressions of gratitude are obligatory, employees will perceive those gestures as insincere, sparking resentment toward both their managers and the organization.

Culture of Appreciation

Establishing a culture of appreciation is a different story. By encouraging everyone at the company—supervisors and coworkers alike—to express gratitude and respect through the individual’s primary appreciation language, employers can boost job satisfaction and subsequently retention and productivity.

Stay Tuned

In our next post, we will examine the five languages of appreciation in detail: 1) words of affirmation, 2) quality time, 3) acts of service, 4) receiving gifts, and 5) physical touch. We will also share tips on how to gauge a fellow employee’s language of appreciation—and look at tools you can use to help cultivate a culture of appreciation at your workplace.

More Details

Visit the Appreciation at Work website for a list of resources, assessments, training tools, and videos on the research presented in The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.

Wednesday
04
June 2014
Tagged , , , , , ,

What Do You Expect from Your Job?

Our Values and Culture, Wegmans

Really? Is this a valid question?

The business world is changing along with our expectations. More than ever, we are looking to work for an organization with vision and values that align with our own. We are seeking a sense of purpose in what we do and how we do it.

Think about your own work. What really matters to you? Why do you do what you do?

I think it all boils down to happiness and a sense of wellbeing. Start with a question like, “Why do you do what you do?” You may get the answer, “Because I like to help people [fill in the blank].” Then ask, “Why do you like to help people [fill in the blank]?” And keep asking, keep drilling down. I bet you will finally get to an answer that sounds something like, “Because it makes me happy.” Yep. People do what they do in pursuit of happiness.

But what makes people happy? What feeds a state of wellbeing?

In his book Flourish, positive psychology’s grandfather Marty Seligman states that it’s the combination of positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and achievement. Sounds reasonable.

But wait. It’s health, wealth, relationships, happiness and meaning, according to bestselling author and executive coach Marshall Goldsmith. Yeah, that sounds reasonable, too.

And Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh says it’s a combination of perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness and having a sense of vision and meaning in one’s work—being a part of something bigger than oneself. I can get on board with that as well.

The good news is that in the last several years, we’ve seen more and more examples of businesses of all shapes and sizes taking employee wellbeing and happiness into account—even putting it front and center. And they’re not all progressive tech giants like Google, Apple or Facebook. Happy companies are everywhere and every size.

Just look at Fortune’s Top Companies to Work For 2013. I’ll admit I’m proud to say little old Wegmans Food Markets is at position number five. I say I’m proud because Wegman’s was started in Rochester, NY, where I hail from. And while it’s not a Mom and Pop store anymore, it maintains that quality while offering an astounding shopping experience. For me, one of the best parts about visiting “home” is getting to grocery shop at “Weggies.”

What’s so great about Weggies? According to Fortune, “Turnover is an exceptionally low 3.6% at the Northeastern grocery chain, which lets employees reward one another with gift cards for good service. Many workers like it there so much they bring in relatives—one in five employees are related.” And the story goes that when Cher was in town for a concert, part of her VIP treatment included an exclusive visit to Wegman’s.

What about your work makes you happy? What helps you flourish? What inspires your creativity and fuels your desire to give a little more? Please let us know—reply to this blog! We will all benefit.

Wednesday
13
November 2013
Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

How Can You Fuel Success and Performance?

Before Happiness: Research on Happy Workplaces

Every time I think the notion of “happiness” in the business world is just not taking hold, I am encouraged by new research that again points to the benefits of a happy workplace. Who can argue with increased performance, more creativity, better teamwork, higher levels of innovation, better customer service, less turnover and minimal sick leave?

To be clear, I define a happy workplace as having a fair, collaborative, open, innovative culture. It’s a place where people feel as though they can achieve their potential.

The latest research I’m referring to comes from Before Happiness, a new book from Happiness Advantage bestselling author Shawn Achor. Below are a few examples.

The Predictors of Success Assessment

In his 2007 study of 1,600 adults, Achor found there was a 0.7 correlation between perceived social support and happiness. (That’s greater than the correlation between smoking and cancer.) Following up on this data, Shawn developed three 10-question metrics that are even more predictive than previous measures for work optimism, provision of social support and positive stress management. Individuals high on provision of social support are 10 times more engaged at work and have a 40% higher likelihood of promotion over the next four years.

“Stress as Enhancing” Mindset

In partnership with Yale and UBS, this study used a three-minute video to teach employees how to view stress as enhancing—creating a 23% drop in fatigue-related health problems (headaches, backaches, fatigue) six weeks later. A one-hour training was conducted to deepen the learning. This additional training resulted in a longer duration of the “stress is enhancing” mindset.

The Happiness Dividend

In the midst of the 2009 tax season, Achor conducted a three-hour intervention describing how to reap the happiness advantage by creating a positive habit for 50% of the KPMG tax managers in New York and New Jersey. Four months later, the optimism, life satisfaction and job satisfaction of these tax managers were retested, revealing significantly elevated levels compared to the control group that had received no training. These tax managers’ reported levels of happiness moved from 22 to 27 on a 35-point scale, a 24% improvement in job and life satisfaction. This is one of the first long-term return-on-investment studies proving that happiness leads to long-term quantifiable positive change.

Achor has successfully shown us how to create a better life using three key factors: 1) how much social support we build into our lives, 2) whether we view stress as a challenge rather than a threat and 3) where we choose to focus our attention. The real beauty here is these tactics create positive outcomes not just for individuals but also within organizations of all kinds.

Capiche specializes in helping individuals, teams and organizations create an environment in which people are happy, achieve high levels of performance and create value every day. Call 541.601.0114 or email Chris to see how she can help you and your organization optimize strengths and boost performance.

Watch Shawn’s TED Talk:


“The goal of science is turning observation into prediction. The goal of business is turning prediction into profit. Thus good science means great business. If you can quantify predictors of success, it’s like adding GPS to your company as it navigates new terrain.” —Shawn Achor

Chris Cook Head Shot

About the Author

Chris Cook, CPCC, ACC

President & CEO, Capiche

Chris believes an organization with shared values and vision inspires passion and purpose in its entire workforce, creating an engaging, productive and positive environment. She helps organizations make a cultural shift that embodies these ideals, giving rise to happy customers, inspired employees and increased company profits. With 26 years of experience in marketing professional services and higher education, Chris has turned her focus to helping organizations define and live their brand. She is dedicated to leadership coaching, organizational development and marketing—with a keen focus on the importance of happiness in the workplace and positive psychology. A partner with Delivering Happiness at Work, Chris is accredited by the iOpener Institute for People and Performance, is a certified professional coach and holds a master in management. She serves as a mentor for the Sustainable Valley Technology Group and is a member of SOREDI’s TAG Team. Chris also serves on the Mt. Ashland Association Board of Directors and the Thrive Board of Directors. A volunteer with Soroptimist’s Strong Girls Strong Women program, she is an avid telemark skier and hiker.

Wednesday
30
October 2013
Tagged , , , , , ,

Speaking of Happiness: How to Have Your Cake—And Eat It, Too

Little Girl about to Chomp Down on Big Chocolate Cake

There’s a lot of buzz about the significance of employee engagement—Forbes, Gallup Business Journal, and Harvard Business Review have all published articles on engagement just in the last three months. I, too, have examined the topic—most recently reporting on the Hay Group findings that highly engaged employees can quadruple a company’s revenue growth and generate 89% greater customer satisfaction.

There’s no denying employee engagement matters, but it’s only one tessellating piece of a bigger jigsaw. Myopically focusing on engagement can obscure our view of the most reliable predictor of performance—you guessed it, happiness. As I explained in “Why Employee Engagement Trumps Employee Engagement and Job Satisfaction,” it’s possible for an employee to be highly engaged, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy (and when they’re not happy, they are most likely looking for a new job). On the flip side, however, happy employees always rank high on both engagement and job satisfaction.

When companies shift their focus from engagement to happiness, they get to have their cake and eat it, too.

Engagement is a good first step, and I believe in the importance of what’s measured in Gallup’s well-revered “Q12” engagement survey. In the recent “Five Questions You Must Ask Your Team,” Stosh Walsh explains how organizations can boost engagement using Gallup’s Q12 engagement survey results.

The Q12 action planning process requires the team to:

1) Define each of the Q12 items

2) Articulate what the ideal looks like for each item

3) Identify the difference between their reality and their ideal

4) Select which items have the greatest impact on the company’s culture or performance

5) Determine what each team member will do to increase engagement

But why limit ourselves to one tree in the forest? If we strengthen the ecosystem, the tree will follow suit. Happiness is the secret to enhancing not just engagement but also satisfaction, health, loyalty, and innovation—not to mention performance and productivity.

Let’s instead consider what questions we can ask to help spread happiness at work. Fortunately, some really smart people like those at Delivering Happiness have already put tremendous thought and research into this question. Based on the New Economics Foundation’s dynamic model of well-being, their Happiness at Work survey is designed to do precisely that.

New Economics Foundation Dynamic Model of Well-Being

The dynamic model of well-being measures four primary areas of happiness at work, each with its own matrix of four intersecting components: 1) experience of work, 2) functioning at work, 3) organizational system, and 4) personal resources. The survey assesses 40 factors to determine the organization’s and individual employees’ levels of happiness.

Here are 16 sample questions posed by the survey:

Experience of Work

1) To what extent do you feel proud to work for your company? (positive feelings)

2) How much of the time you spend at work do you feel frustrated? (negative feelings)

3) How much of the time you spend at work are you absorbed in what you are doing? (engaging work)

4) Thinking about the job you do, in general would you say that the job you do is worthwhile? (worthwhile work)

Functioning at Work

The Hidden Costs of Disengagement1) To what extent do you get the chance to be creative in your job? (self-expression)

2) To what extent can you influence decisions that are important for your work? (sense of control)

3) To what extent do you like the people within your team? (work relationships)

4) To what extent have you been able to learn new skills at work? (sense of progress)

Organizational System

1) To what extent do you worry you might lose your job in the next six months? (job design)

2) To what extent do you feel trusted by your manager? (management system)

3) To what extent is it safe to speak up and challenge the way things are done within the company? (work environment)

4) In general would you say that the job you do is beneficial to society in general? (social value)

Personal Resources

1) To what extent do you feel full of energy in life? (vitality)

2) Taking all things together how happy would you say you are? (happiness)

3) In general would you say you find it easy or difficult to deal with important problems that come up in your life? (confidence)

4) How satisfied are you with the balance between the time you spend on your work and the time you spend on other aspects of your life? (work-life balance)

How would you answer these questions? Take the free Happiness at Work survey to find out how happy you are in your work. Do you feel the results are accurate? I will be interested to hear your experience of the process!

Saturday
22
June 2013
Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Civility Costs Nothing—and Buys Everything

Rudeness at Work

It Really Does Pay to Be the “Nice Guy”

With the science of happiness at work as a cornerstone of my business model, I am always interested in new research that illustrates how happy employees are more productive and creative, provide better customer service, are better team players, are sick less and stay longer. These days, there is a LOT of that research, and the findings continue to be consistent with these positive outcomes.

It amazes me that I still find people who resist the idea of happiness at work—or those who believe the statistics but think they don’t have the time or resources to invest in creating a workplace where happiness is part of the culture.

“Happiness at work? I’m not happy—why should anyone else be?” or “They should be happy to have a job.” or “We’re not here to be happy; we’re here to make a profit.” Then I remind them happiness at work boosts the bottom line, and their interest is piqued.

This month a new piece of research was published in the Harvard Business Review about civility and rudeness: “The Price of Incivility: Lack of Respect Hurts Morale—and the Bottom Line.” Guess what? Civility at work creates results similar to happiness at work, and rudeness at work creates results that correlate to unhappiness at work.

Kid Sticking Tongue OutDid you know rudeness at work is raging and is on the rise? According to researchers, 98 percent of workers polled said they experienced rudeness at work—with half of them experiencing it at least once a week, up from 25 percent in 1998.

Like unhappiness at work, rudeness at work undermines the bottom line. In a poll of 800 managers and employees in 17 industries, the researchers found the following statistics:

Among employees who have experienced incivility at work:

  • 48% intentionally decreased their work effort
  • 47% intentionally decreased the time they spent at work
  • 38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work
  • 80% lost work time worrying about the incident
  • 63% lost work time avoiding the offender
  • 66% said their performance declined
  • 78% said their commitment to the organization declined
  • 12% said they left their job because of the uncivil treatment
  • 24% admitted to taking their frustration out on customers

Other studies have found that creativity suffers, performance and team spirit declines, and customers who witness the rude behaviors turn away. Sounds a lot like what happens with unhappiness at work.

It also sounds like a recipe for disaster—not a way to increase an organization’s profits or become known as an employer of choice. And it’s expensive! According to a study conducted by Accountemps and reported in Fortune, managers and executives at Fortune 1,000 firms spend 13 percent of their time—the equivalent of seven weeks per year—mending employee relationships and dealing with the aftermath of incivility. And just think of the costs should consultants and attorneys be brought in to help settle a situation.

So what’s a leader to do?

In managing yourself, model good behavior. After all, the leader sets the tone of the organization. You are on stage, and your supporting cast is taking cues from you. Ask for feedback—what do your employees like and dislike about your leadership style? How does that relate to civility (or happiness) at work? What can you do to shift behaviors that are perceived poorly?

Coworker ConflictAnd keep a pulse on the organization. What’s really going on, and how are people treated and treating others? You need to be connected to your workforce and constantly striving to create a culture where people feel as though they have what’s needed to succeed.

In managing the organization, hire for and reward civility. If civility is a key attribute your culture values, put it above all else. For example, at Zappos, people are hired based on fit within the culture, and the most skilled person will be passed over if their values don’t match the values Zappos has deemed essential to its core. Share those values (and make sure civility is one of them) and demonstrate what it looks like to live those values. Be specific. Tie those to individual performance assessments and rewards, and celebrate circumstances in which the values of civility and respect shine brightly.

Rude or civil? Unhappy or happy? The choice is clear. Civil, respectful cultures enjoy the same benefits as cultures where people are encouraged and given a climate where they can succeed at work—that’s when they can reach their potential.

Today’s data show creating a culture of civility and happiness is not simply the morally right thing to do, it’s also the fiscally responsible thing to do.

Contact me for more specifics or for a culture check of your organization. Let’s see how your company can become an employer of choice—a place where people feel as though their contributions matter, a place that resonates with their values, vision, passion and sense of purpose. It is possible!

Tuesday
26
February 2013
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Creating Your Brand from the Inside Out: Why Your Culture Comes First

Mindmap and Office Employees

Your culture is your brand; your brand is your culture. The two are one and the same—inextricably intertwined. It’s where marketing, positive psychology and innovative business practices intersect. And it’s the common denominator in successful companies. Virgin Atlantic, Apple, Google, Harley Davidson, BMW and Autodesk all have strong brands and strong cultures, and all are wildly successful. I’ll bet you can name one or more in your industry.

Anyone who has been through a branding process knows the hardest part of branding isn’t coming up with a logo or tagline. It’s getting to your company’s DNA—what is at its heart—its values, vision, passion and purpose. That’s your culture. When you get to that, you can create your brand.

Before you embark on a branding campaign, take a reality check. Have you uncovered your company’s DNA? Defined its culture? It’s values, vision, passion and purpose? Is it real, honest and yet still a little aspirational? Your brand must be rooted in reality with room to reach toward the future. Clearly defining your company culture is your first step in building a brand.

Your brand comes alive visually with words and graphics. Your marketing team can create stunning ad campaigns, proposals, brochures and websites that reflect your brand. That’s the easy part. The hard part is LIVING the brand. Creating and embodying your unique company culture. It’s how you answer the phone. It’s how you interact with others on the team and everyone who comes in contact with your company. It’s who you hire. And it’s how you bring them on board. It’s what you base EVERY business decision on.

Building the culture/brand really is everybody’s business, and companies that understand that have a real advantage. That’s why it’s important to engage your employees in your branding process—asking them to help define your values, vision, passion and purpose. Getting their input and buy-in is critical to the success of your brand. You all need to get behind the same values, vision, passion and purpose. It’s critical to a cohesive, productive and engaging workplace.

You will also be asking all your constituents to weigh in on what defines your company DNA. This means clients, subcontractors, other design team members, and influencers. Asking and listening to your constituents (and employees) is a natural way to build trust and take your relationship to the next level. This is marketing and management brilliance.

One company that has successfully built its brand from the inside out is Zappos—the $2 billion/year shoe and apparel company known around the world for its success in creating a company culture that spawns success at every level, from employee happiness to customer happiness to shareholder happiness. What makes Zappos different is that is has built its culture around employee happiness. Zappos credits its happiness framework for its success. The framework consists of perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness and vision/meaning.

Good to Great and Tribal Leadership Book CoversThe realization that happy workers drive business success is sweeping the world, and the research keeps growing. Researchers at Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, University of California at Riverside and Oxford University are leading the pack. Bestselling management books Good to Great and Tribal Leadership credit a shared company vision and purpose. A company with a vision has a higher purpose beyond just money, profits or being number one in a market, and this important element separates sustainable profitable companies from the rest.

Are you seeing a connection? The “great” companies build their brands around their values, vision, passion and purpose, which guide the company’s culture. The two are inextricably intertwined.

When your people are living your brand, their personal values are in synch with the company’s. They are happier and more productive—and they are your best ambassadors. Involve them from the start, get clear on values, vision, passion and purpose, walk the talk, and enjoy your success!

If you are ready to get going on your company culture and brand, give me a call at 541.601.0114 or email me at chris@capiche.us. Let me help you uncover your own unique culture and brand to propel your organization forward. And let’s have a great time doing so!

Wednesday
12
December 2012
Tagged , , , , , ,

A New Report on Workplace Happiness

Chris Cook and Jessica Pryce Jones in the UK

Chris Cook, CEO of Capiche, and Jessica Pryce-Jones, founder of iOpener, in Oxford this summer. Chris is a licensed practitioner of iOpener Institute for People and Performance.

Take the Happy at Work Survey to See Where You Stand

For the second year in a row, the Wall Street Journal’s blog, The Source, has teamed up with the iOpener Institute for People and Performance to find out how happy and fulfilled readers of the Wall Street Journal are at work. The institute has designed a survey to help you establish how happy you are at work. Using the article below as a guide, you can figure out how to increase your happiness and be more productive. Complete the questionnaire now.

What in the world is happening in the workplace? Jessica Pryce-Jones, founder of iOpener Institute for People and Performance, shares this report.

Economic data over the last couple of years shows a confusing picture of productivity. The US reported a modest increase due to downwards wage pressure, while the UK—outperformed by France and Germany—has reported more employment but less output.

South African productivity has hit a 46-year low, while even China and India—which have been fueling their economies with cheap labor—are seeing costs rise as investors eye up cheaper countries or territories in which it’s easier to do business.

Productivity is a combination of many things: traditionally, it includes investment, innovation, skills, enterprise and competition. But there’s one key ingredient missing here.

The happiness of employees.

Employees who are the most productive are also the happiest at work.

We know this because the institute has been gathering data since 2005, and that data tells us that when you are unhappy or insecure at work, you withhold your best effort. You are simply less productive when you’re looking to balance the psychological contract between you and your employer, which is the reason it matters for both bosses and employees.

So where are you? If you want to assess what’s affecting your performance, complete our questionnaire to get a personalized mini-report.

What do we know about employees who are happiest at work? Our research tells us they are:

  • Twice as productive
  • Stay 5 times longer in their jobs
  • 6 times more energized
  • Take 10 times less sick leave

And we’ve found other benefits.

Happier workers help their colleagues 33% more than their least happy colleagues, raise issues that affect performance 46% more, achieve their goals 31% more and are 36% more motivated.

If there’s a positive effect, they demonstrate it. Every organization needs happy employees because they are the ones who effectively tackle the tough stuff and turn ideas into actions.

So what should organizations, bosses and individuals do? Our research show everyone needs to focus on the five drivers of individual productivity because they propel performance and ensure employees are happy in their work, too.

Driver 1: Effort

This is about what you do. You’ll never be productive without clear goals or precise and well-articulated objectives that lead to those goals without addressing problems that arise on the way. That means the ability to raise issues and have others help you solve them. That’s what leaders need to make happen and what employees need to push for.

Constructive feedback helps you contribute even more, while personal appreciation goes a long way toward boosting productivity. Interestingly, negative feedback that is poorly given doubles sick leave, according to our data, and increased sick leave of course affects productivity levels. So one practical thing organizations can do is teach their managers how to give great feedback.

Driver 2: Short-Term Motivation

Unhappy Employees Banging Their Heads on CubiclesThis is about staying resilient and motivated enough to maintain productivity levels. Our data shows resilience hasn’t taken a knock over the past few years, but motivation has. It dropped by 23% during 2010 and climbed back by 17% during 2011, but there has been no improvement in 2012.

Of course, reduced motivation means it’s harder to maintain high performance and maximize output.

Good organizations encourage motivation by helping employees own issues and take responsibility. And they do that at a level that fits with an individual’s skills, strengths and expertise levels. Those employees are encouraged to work on what they are good at, prioritize what they do and build efficiencies into their work.

Driver 3: How Well You Fit into a Firm

Performance and happiness at work are both boosted when employees feel they fit within their organizational culture. Believing you’re in the wrong job, feeling disconnected from the values of your workplace or disliking your colleagues is dispiriting and de-energizing, and all of that feels much worse if decisions in your workplace feel unfair.

Our investigation of fairness at work doesn’t tell a good story. It tumbled 19% in 2010, rose 9% during 2011 and has been flatlining during 2012. According to the UK’s Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, fairness is connected with discretionary effort: if decisions feel fair, work gets done. If they don’t, employees look for other ways of getting what’s missing, which is when equipment gets broken, work gets sabotaged and things go missing.

Good firms can address this by being as transparent as possible about why decisions are made, explaining why resources are allocated in the way they are and making sure that their approach is as equitable as possible.

Driver 4: Long-Term Engagement

This is about commitment and the long-term engagement you have with what you do and your organization. Having to work hard in a job you feel stuck in is energy-draining at best and, as we’ve found, associated with higher illness at worst.

Our data reveals one of the key items that creates commitment is a belief that you’re doing something worthwhile. And this is particularly important to Generation Y (born in the early 1980s). If your digital natives (those familiar with digital media and technology) don’t feel they are doing something worthwhile, they’ll be eyeing the exit and intending to leave within two years. Our numbers clearly tell us money won’t solve this problem.

More than any other generation, members of Generation Y need to believe in the strategic direction their employer is pursuing. The more Generation Y’ers believe in the leadership’s corporate strategy, the less likely they are to leave.

This tells employers they need to regularly and convincingly communicate the corporate strategy, along with providing tangible proof of how that strategy is being implemented and the contribution it is making—not just to the bottom line.

Trudging to WorkDriver 5: Self-Belief

If you’re not confident, you won’t make decisions, take risks or spend cash. Confidence is the gateway to productivity, and our data shows a primary indicator of confidence is that things get done. We also found things get done better, faster or cheaper because people are confident of the outcome.

Right now, confidence has a significantly lower average than the other four drivers, and that’s a problem because you can’t have confident organizations without confident individuals.

And productivity works in the exactly the same way.

When we collect data, we ask employees how much time they spend “on task” or engaged with their work. This ranges from 78% for those who are most on task to 41% for the least.

Just to be clear, the people who are most on task also have the highest levels of all the five drivers as well as being the happiest employees at work. In real terms, that 78% is equivalent to about four days a week while 41% is just two days a week. This represents a huge productivity cost to any organization.

In effect, an organization is losing about 100 days of work a year for every “unhappy” employee.

If leaders, organizations and industries want to manage productivity and move it in the right direction, it’s time to understand these five drivers, investigate the numbers and recognize the serious outcomes happiness at work can bring.

For the second year running, the Wall Street Journal (Europe) is running a global happiness at work index in conjunction with the iOpener Institute to see who’s happiest at work. If you want to take part, click here to get a self-assessment. We will be reporting back on the results of readers clicking through in six weeks.

Are you less happy than you would like to be? Chris Cook, CEO of Capiche, can help with one-on-one coaching and team workshops. Email her at chris@capiche.us or call 541.601.0114.

Wednesday
28
November 2012
Tagged , , , , ,

Happiness at Work: Not as Scary as You Imagine! (PS: It’s Not Kumbaya Circles)

Happy Woman in the Workplace

Greetings! I urge you to listen to a podcast I was invited to record last week with two fantastic business strategists—Randy Harrington and Carmen Voillequé. I met Randy when he spoke to a group at a Southern Oregon business conference in the fall, and we’ve been in contact ever since.

Here is a link to the interview:

The Happiness Factor: A Special Interview with Chris Cook of Capiche

I’m especially curious about your takeaways from this. How does this strike you? What does it make you think you need to do?

I also encourage those of you who live in Southern Oregon to attend the next Jefferson Grapevine this Wednesday, September 19. I will be presenting on how creating happy cultures at work leads to high performance. Click here for details.

I hope to see you there!

Tuesday
18
September 2012
Tagged , , , , , , ,

Learning About Happiness and Company Culture from the Big Dogs

Your culture is your brand; your brand is your culture. The two are one in the same—inextricably intertwined. It’s where marketing, positive psychology and innovative business practices intersect. After spending more than 25 years as a professional marketer, I watched the concept crystallize during two amazing days last week in San Francisco.

These two days were in a master class with Nic Marks of the “think and do tank” called the New Economics Foundation (NEF) and five key members of the team at Delivering Happiness at Work.

Chris and Nic in San Francisco

Delivering Happiness at Work is a spinoff of Zappos, the shoe and apparel company known around the world for its success in creating a company culture that spawns success at every level, from employee happiness to customer happiness to shareholder happiness. When you think of Zappos, what comes to mind?

This spring, a new survey was launched by NEF, Zappos and Delivering Happiness at Work that measures the elements necessary for happy workers:

  • the personal resources people bring to work;
  • the environment people are asked to work in;
  • the functionality that results from the combination of resources and environment; and
  • a person’s overall experience at work.

While the concept seems so basic, the research behind the survey is immense. The realization that happy workers drive business success is sweeping the world, and the research keeps growing. The design of this happiness at work survey is based on more than 10 years experience of measuring happiness and well-being at the New Economics Foundation. The happiness at work survey translates—and transfers—these skills into the context of work and organizations.

The survey is free and available online here. Check out the survey and let me know if your organization is ready to brand itself with happy workers. Your employees will benefit, your customers will benefit and your bottom line will benefit. Wouldn’t you love to be among the organizations on the Best Companies to Work For list—all winners!

If you are ready to get going, give me a call at 541.601.0114 or email me at chris@capiche.us. Let’s talk happy. Let me help you find your own unique brand of happiness that will propel your organization forward past all your competitors. And let’s have a great time doing so!

Monday
06
August 2012
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,