Happiness, Productivity and You

June 17th 2014

As the line between working life and personal life becomes ever more blurred, the idea that team members can or should “leave their personal problems at the door” has begun to look unrealistic, uncaring, and unproductive. The New York Times recently published an article called “Why You Hate Work.” The authors said:

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    “Demand for our time is increasingly exceeding our capacity — draining us of the energy we need to bring our skill and talent fully to life. Increased competitiveness and a leaner, post-recession work force add to the pressures. The rise of digital technology is perhaps the biggest influence, exposing us to an unprecedented flood of information and requests that we feel compelled to read and respond to at all hours of the day and night.” 

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I imagine that you deal with this issue and its effects every day in your firm. And if you aren’t, perhaps you should.

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A Harvard Business Review study cites four core needs that, when met, make people happier and more productive — more engaged — at work:

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Physical: opportunities to regularly renew and recharge at work; 

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Emotional: feeling valued and appreciated for their contributions; 

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Mental: having the opportunity to focus on their most important tasks and defining for themselves when and where they get their work done; 

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Spiritual: doing more of what they do best and enjoy most, and feeling connected to a higher purpose at work.

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Experienced leaders have always known that employee engagement is good for business. In 2012, a Gallup survey found that:

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    “companies in the top quartile for engaged employees, compared with the bottom quartile, had 22 percent higher profitability, 10 percent higher customer ratings, 28 percent less theft and 48 percent fewer safety incidents.” (from the NY Times article cited above)

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Based on the data, it makes sense to engage and care for the whole human at work. As far as I know, no firm has a single position dedicated to doing this. While entire departments and processes are dedicated to ensuring that each team member is productive, there is no individual whose job is to ensure that every team member is experiencing the core drivers that we know increase productivity. 

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This is likely because issues around emotions are viewed as non-essential and, therefore, best handled by Human Resources. But a Personal Development Plan, a Fun Committee and an annual picnic just won’t address these highly individualized drivers. They require something more.

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Progressive leaders who want to slow down turnover and heat up productivity and be happier themselves  know how to engage and care for the whole human at work.

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leadership, management, communication, employee retention

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