Archive for new economics foundation

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!

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 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!

What Role Does Happiness Play in the Global Economy? Why the Happy Planet Index Matters

Planet Earth from Apollo 17

What if you suddenly woke up in a world where natural disasters were celebrated, cancer cases applauded and terrorist attacks cheered on like a sporting event? What if you lived in a society where points were awarded every time a person died?

Well, you do. We all do. Every citizen of the global economy does—as long as our nations’ politics continue to be shaped by economic scales such as the GDP and the GNP. According to those systems of measurement, every death does not diminish. Rather, it puts another $1,000-dollar bill in the pocket of a shareholder. It shows up as a bump on the NASDAQ.

Now, imagine a world where success is measured not by the bottom line but instead by the happiness of its citizens. Nic Marks has done just that. As lead author of the new economics foundation’s (nef) Happy Planet Index, well-being researcher Marks helped develop the first global measure of sustainable well-being. Check out Nic’s introduction to the index here:

“We created the Happy Planet Index to highlight the tension between creating good lives now and good lives in the future,” says Marks. “Because we think that people should be happy and the planet should be happy, why don’t we create a measure of progress that shows that?”

The index measures the well-being of a nation’s people while taking into account the environmental impact of that nation, posing the question, “How much well-being do you get for your resources?”

The Buddhist country of Bhutan takes this question so seriously, its Centre for Bhutan Studies devised the Gross National Happiness index based on a term coined 40 years ago by fourth Dragon King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. This multidimensional measure of citizen happiness is linked with program screening tools, and its outcomes influence the development of future policies.

Named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World two years in a row (2004, 2005), economist and author Jeffrey Sachs echoed the importance of evaluating happiness when he launched the first World Happiness Report at the UN in April. With northern European countries topping the list and sub-Saharan African nations showing up as least happy, the report reveals that wealth is just one of many contributing factors to happiness, political freedom and social support being among the other key factors.

Ready to make the world a better place by boosting your own happiness? You can start by practicing the nef’s Five Ways to Well-Being: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, and Give.