In my corporate life working inside global companies, consulting for small and large companies and for the past 15 years focusing on attracting and, more importantly, retaining the best talent available for leading corporations, I have learned a lot.
This hands-on, behind-the-scenes experience has led me to several conclusions about corporate culture, employee engagement, and happiness.
And guess what? We’ve been doing employee happiness wrong for decades.
The personality tests, the career assessment quizzes, the quarterly reviews and the year-end surveys actually don’t tell us much of anything.
I was consulting for a global oil, gas and fiber optic network company, trying to figure out how to bring my buying exchange software to their industry when I was invited on a corporate weekend retreat.
The retreat consisted of the usual get to know you activities, a speech by the company leader, a ropes course to build trust and, the main event, a personality test, which we all took.
I got the four letters that described me and for the next day, everyone was walking around saying things like, “I’m an ABCD or a QRST,” or whatever their results revealed.
The whole thing stumped me because I was smack in the middle and wasn’t really anything. On the other hand, I was all things. And while this did help confirm that I am a chameleon – as a strategic consultant you have to be in order to adapt to all personalities, it didn’t, in my humble opinion, tell me anything about employee engagement or happiness.
What did help me on that particular retreat, were the conversations on the sidelines. The ones where people talked about the why of whether they were happy or not, and what mattered most to them in their work and personal lives.
I went on many retreats with companies during this phase of my career, and have morphed my practice into helping companies get employees happier so that they don’t leave.
I write about it, I speak about it and I even did a TEDx talk that challenged people to look way beyond who they think they are and embrace who they really are deep inside.
When I create and conduct corporate workshops now, which are all about employee happiness, engagement and idea innovation, I first focus on each person bringing their authentic self to the table. Not the self we think others want to see, not the self we think others think of us, not the self a test says we are, but who we know ourselves to be — the real us. That’s where our creativity lies, our ideas, our inspiration, and the future of the companies we work for.
Employee happiness affects the bottom line in all cases. To the tune of $500B for U.S. companies in lost revenues due to stress.
So why do I say that all of these long used methods are out of style?
Because I live inside companies, I ask the questions, I have the conversations, and I see that happiness shifts throughout the week, month and year.
So what have I found that keeps employees happy (or not)?
- Meeting Expectations
- Constantly Growing
- Being in Control of Career
And it takes more than a survey, meeting or test to determine where someone might fall on the scale in all of these categories. And once you measure happiness in real-time, then you can address it with one-on-one meetings, workshops or projects.
I believe that if we don’t focus on measuring employee happiness in real-time, we might as well forget it.
I believe so much in this that I went on a quest to find the best happiness measurement software available. I looked at lots of solutions. Some are pretty good. Some are complicated. But I only found one that is intuitive, is easy to onboard, and frankly, works.
One company who rolled out the system on a test run of 1,000 employees, had an 88% adoption rate and a 77% usage rate on a monthly basis. To me, that means they actually liked using the app. It wasn’t a hassle and it provided management with a very keen understanding of not only when someone was out of sync with their truest, happiest self at work, but why. And then they could address it.
The pilot resulted in the company retaining top talent because the employees were happier. Why? They felt that management understood their real-time experience flow and were willing to make their work life better. It resulted in increased collective decision making and higher employee productivity. Bottom line? Cost savings, happier employees and a path toward increased revenues due to performance.
Getting these results had nothing to do with a survey someone filled out a couple times of year, a check-in meeting every now and then, or a test.
It was easy to use, real-time measurement backed by a bunch of Ph.D.’s in neuro-science and behavioral psychology.
I have now partnered with this company to roll out the platform to current and future clients of at least 3,000 employees.
If you’ve already got it figured out or hate change, then best of luck. I hope you aren’t part of the billions in losses.
If you’d like to learn more about what we use, let me know.