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Analysis / Business

Happy Staff! I Run A Business, Not A Bloody Holiday Camp

I was horrified when talking recently to CEO (name withheld) about the economy when he said “The best thing about the recession is I can treat by staff like sH!t as they have nowhere else to go”. Not only is it short sighted and it fails the ‘would I want to be treated like that’ test, but it is morally wrong.

Do the math. We all spend a significant percentage of our lives at work. And based on this poster by Charles Schwab and the state of the Government’s finances, we are all going to be working even longer. So as leaders it is our role to make sure that the lives of our staff is valuable and rewarding, if not fun.

People have incredible levels of drive, ability and enthusiasm as the staggering video in the blog People are Awesome shows. We need to harness that.

Thought: why is happy hour, just an hour and happens after work?

There has been a lot of research recently that is showing that (wait for it…) happy employees are more productive. I guess we knew that instinctively, but now studies are putting some data behind the feeling.

As long ago as 2007 people like Alexander Kjerulf, who bills himself as Chief Happiness Officer have been writing and talking about the effects of a happy workplace on productivity. He has written a book called Happy Hour is 9 to 5 which has been published by Lulu or you can read it for free online.

University of Warwick’s Economic Research Institute discovered that happier workers were 12% more productive, unhappier workers were 10% less productive.”

The team, led by Andrew Oswald, a professor of economics at Warwick Business School and a leading authority on the relationship between economics and mental health, said its research has important implications for the worlds of politics and business.

“We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity,” the team said. “Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings, while negative emotions have the opposite effect.”

A Forbes.com article It Pays To Be Happy At Work by Vicki Salemi summed it up well – Happiness at work doesn’t just boost morale, it leads to better reviews, faster promotion, fatter salaries and higher productivity. Vicki has written an number of articles highlighting the link between happiness and performance. The Forbes article highlighted a British company iOpener headed up by Jessica Pryce-Jones, author of Happiness at Work.

Which leads me to a recent blog Making Work Easier, Faster and More Valuable by Mike Gammage.

Interestingly he is most proud about the ‘more valuable’. ’Easier and faster’ is where the focus has traditionally been. It’s time-and-motion and automation, and links direct to the bottom line. It will always be important. But he says that ‘more valuable’ is where it gets interesting. Intuitively that being involved is energizing, but he doesn’t have any hard evidence. Maybe because he is having too much fun and not looking hard enough!!! There is a strong body of evidence that is growing that staff who happier are more productive.

But what does happier mean? Feeling valuable, achieving, being rewarded is the positive side – which should be reinforced. The negative side we should be eliminating feeling embarrassed, confused, unworthy, wasted, uninvolved.

A surprising number of these can be influenced by letting people know what they should be doing, how they should be doing it and how well they are doing. Process & Metrics. Who would have thought processes were a route to happiness?

Listen to the final quote on this short Carphone Warehouse video. Enough said.

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Ian Gotts is CEO and Chairman of Nimbus Partners, an established and rapidly growing global software company, headquartered in the UK. He is a very experienced senior executive and serial entrepreneur, with a career spanning 25 years. Ian has co-authored a number of books including “Common Approach, Uncommon Results”, published in English and Chinese and in its second edition, "Why Killer Products Don't Sell" and books covering Cloud computing from the perspective of both the prospective buyer, and the software vendor. Having begun his career in 1983 as an engineer for British Rail, Ian then spent 12 years at Accenture (nee Andersen Consulting) specialising in the project management of major business critical IT projects. During this time, he spent two years as an IT Director, seconded to the Department for Social Security (DSS), with a department of over 500 and a budget responsibility of 40 million pounds.