This insightful article was written by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Her most recent book is SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good(Crown, 2009).
Insightful research findings by Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School and co-author of “The Progress Principle.”
“True freedom requires that we take part in the market as fully formed agents, with life goals determined not by advertising campaigns but by our own experience of and reflection on the various possibilities of human fulfillment. Such freedom in turn requires a liberating education, one centered not on indoctrination, social conditioning or technical training but on developing persons capable of informed and intelligent commitments to the values that guide their lives.”
Nice definition of Happiness at work: “Happiness at work is about mindfully making the best use of the resources you have to overcome the challenges you face. Actively relishing the highs and managing the lows will help you maximize your performance and achieve your potential. And this not only builds your happiness but also that of others—who will be affected and energized by what you do.” For more, check Wikipedia’s entry here.
“Employee engagement can make a big difference in a company’s survival. In a 2010 study, James K. Harter and colleagues found that lower job satisfaction foreshadowed poorer bottom-line performance. Gallup estimates the cost of America’s disengagement crisis at a staggering $300 billion in lost productivity annually. When people don’t care about their jobs or their employers, they don’t show up consistently, they produce less, or their work quality suffers.” Read more here.
"Intrinsically motivated people are more creative because they engage more deeply with the work. Imagine a task you have to do — say, an important marketing problem you have to solve at work — as a maze you need to get through. Most business problems have multiple solutions that would work, multiple exits from that maze. Often, there is one clear, straight path out of the maze — the standard solution that everyone uses for this type of problem. If you’re extrinsically motivated, perhaps by a looming deadline or fear of a negative evaluation, you’re likely to take that safe path. The solution works, but it’s boring; it doesn’t move things forward. But if you’re intrinsically motivated, you love the hunt through the maze for a more interesting — and likely more creative — solution." Read more here.
THE BUSINESS CASE FOR SUSTAINABILITY & A WORK PLACE OF MEANING
Today I had lunch with a very dear friend and mentor of mine who forwarded me this gem stone of an interview with Ray Anderson, Founder and Chairman of InterfaceFLOR. In it, Mr. Anderson explains the remarkable business case for sustainability. Interface’s bold vision “mission zero” is the company’s promise to eliminate any negative impact it may have on the environment, by the year 2020. To me, Anderson’s leadership approach is a beautiful example of how a strong work culture in which employees feel appreciated, happy and meaningful is instrumental for innovation and (in this particular case) sustainability.
Martin Seligman, the “founding father” of the science of positive psychology, suggests that the most lasting state of happiness is “the meaningful life.” In this state, individuals derive a positive sense of well-being, belonging, meaning, and purpose from being part of and contributing back to something larger and more permanent than themselves (e.g. social groups, organizations, movements, belief systems). In the interview, it becomes obvious from the story Anderson tells about the factory worker James that he’s not only happy to be at his work place, but also finds real meaning in the perhaps simple, but important task of driving carpet rolls from A to B in the factory. Because of this, he takes real ownership in the “mission zero” goal which, in turn, sets InterfaceFLOR on course to making good on its promise.
Ultimately, this story shows that designing company goals (in this case “mission zero”) with employees’ happiness in mind, can not only help solve a pressing issue such as reducing a firm’s environmental foot print, but also improve people’s (work) lives and well-being in the process.