Archive for science of happiness – Page 2

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!

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!

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.

Is Your Work a Test of Endurance or a Labor of Love?

Happy Woman Looking out Office Window

What makes you happy at work? Benefits? Bonuses? Vacations?

Well no, actually. The top factors determining a person’s happiness at work are whether they enjoy the actual tasks required, are able to focus on the things they do best and are proud of their employer. Other factors that can impact happiness are relationships at work, the job’s social impact, feeling in control of your work and workplace decisions and feeling like you’re progressing and learning.

Other statistics show that your happiness at work is a also result of skill levels, providing service, supervising others and working at a small company, according to the Happiness at Work Survey jointly developed by Delivering Happiness at Work (DH@W) and Nic Marks. Nic is a well-being researcher with the new economics foundation (nef), and DH@W is a consultancy firm Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh founded on the heels of his 2010 bestseller, Delivering Happiness. DH@W uses the survey as a cornerstone in its work with companies to create a happier (and subsequently more profitable) culture.Delivering Happiness at Work Book Cover

So far, more than 11,000 people in more than 90 countries have taken the 47-question survey, which asks simple questions regarding work-life balance, utilization of time on the job and overall feelings while at work.

The results confirm that highly skilled workers are 50% more likely to be happy at work than their unskilled counterparts. People whose work involves caregiving or direct service are 75% happier than, for example, those in sales. Supervisors are 27% more likely to be happy than those who are supervised. And you are 25% more likely to be happy working for a company of fewer than 100 employees than for a business with 1,000 or more employees. Age matters, too. Workers 40 and above tend to be happier than younger employees.

The 47-question survey takes about 10 minutes to complete and asks questions such as, “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?” and “How much of the time you spend at work do you feel bored?” The assessment also includes questions about colleagues and managers, workspace environment and your individual demeanor. After completion, survey respondents receive personalized reports intended to help navigate the way forward—particularly if, like many workers, they feel work is a test of endurance instead of a labor of love.

“Some consider happiness to be fluffy in the workplace,” says James Key Lim, chief executive at Delivering Happiness at Work. But he cites an extensive body of research showing that a happy workforce can make a big difference. One large meta-analysis found happy employees have on average 31% higher productivity, their sales are 37% higher and their creativity is some three times higher than less-happy workers, Lim says.

“We need positive feedback loops to create well-being,” survey author Nic Marks said at a TED talk in July. “At a business level, you need to look at the well-being of your employees—it links directly to creativity and innovation.”

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!

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.