When Is Happy Too Happy?



   As everyone knows, there are battles of various philosophies and mindsets in every organization.  People live in constant conflict with one another because, well quite frankly we’re human.   We have emotions that fluctuate, we have different external forces acting upon our lives (positive and negative), and we each come to our own conclusions on what the ‘right’ solution is to our problems (ever notice how another person’s solution starts and ends with what you should do?)…


   After watching the above video of a mom teaching her baby the word ‘happy’ http://www.wimp.com/firstword, I was reminded of a study released into the media earlier this week on the effects of happiness in the workplace.  Enter another conflict.  ”You can’t just worry about people’s happiness! If you do, things will never get done while they’re at work!”  This is the mantra most of us have been raised with.  It also comes as no surprise this teaching is further propagated by various cultural & socio-economic values that work & fun are on opposing ends of a spectrum – that is to say, they simply can’t happen at the same time in the same place!   But wouldn’t you know it, we’ve now discovered this to be completely false! 


   Turns out that happiness is directly related to productivity within an organization.  Take for example Google, who rank as one of the highest spending organizations on employee happiness.  What did they discover?   Within a short amount of time after spending more financial & human resources towards employee happiness, their productivity shot through the roof!  Some reports indicating as much as 37% higher in fact!  And yes, I hear the naysayers and those who generally put their own ‘rightness’ over their organizational well-being, saying:  “There’s no evidence to suggest that we can’t get better productivity without having to use all these incentives.  We’ll just pay them more because it’s their job to get the work done, that’s why they’re here!”


Really?  Let’s take a look at that…  The average household income has risen quite substantially across Canada & the USA over the past 10yrs (exact amounts depending on which reports you look at).  Simultaneously two other scales have gone down at an equally rapid pace in the past 10yrs –> employee satisfaction rates and productivity rates.  Coincidence?  I think not.   About 7yrs ago I attended an academic forum on the issue of relative wealth and it’s impact on organizational structures within society.  The two main speakers were co-authors on a book of similar nature.  Their presentation focused on how wealth which has traditionally been thought to be a good motivator of human behaviour, is being revealed as a poor motivator.  They argued in fact that so long as an individual has a secure amount of relative wealth compared to their surroundings, an increase in wealth has next to (and sometimes negative) impact on organizational productivity as it relates to the individual(s) in question. Translated:  Paying somebody more money to do a better job when they don’t like the job or the environment doesn’t work!


How about that?  An individual can stop caring about their productivity regardless of the money they’re being paid, but they will never stop being motivated by a better workplace environment!  Will this stop the debate?  Of course not.  The trenches have been dug deep into the psyche of many cultural, capitalist, and traditionalist thinkers who simply don’t understand how organizational growth in productivity occurs through something as simple as happiness!  Nothing gives me greater joy than going into organizations who are convinced proper placement and training of staff in team environments will yield nothing more than time and money wasted.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  I have helped several organizational environments change from being places where staff dreaded entering, to being places that actually had staff and volunteers wanting to stay beyond their required responsibilities!  I believe the same can happen at your organization!  Contact me at: http://www.mattsilver.ca and let’s create something that works for you and your organization!