Checking in From #WorkHuman Day 1 – Happiness as a Business Strategy?

I’m here in sunny Orlando, FL this week for the 2016 edition of the WorkHuman conference.  Now in its second year, WorkHuman is a concept developed by the folks at recognition company Globoforce, and it’s slowly taking on a life of its own.  Focused on topics like happiness, engagement, and recognition, WorkHuman is all about creating great workplaces that are built to bring out the best in people and harness the power of social connections to drive positive business results.

Right from the moment of arrival on site, it became apparent that this is a different kind of HR conference.  The agenda includes (optional) time for yoga and mindfulness, the colors in the space are bright and cheerful, there was a “cookie wall” (yes, an actual wall covered in cookies for the taking), and the opening event was actually called a “Happy Hour” and not an “opening reception.”

Some might say that sounds a little too “warm and fuzzy” or “Kum Bah Yah” for them, but as we launched into the opening general sessions this morning, there were certainly enough stats and stories shared to prove that focusing on happiness and creating great cultures isn’t just some warm and fuzzy “HR speak” concept with no connection to the reality of the workplace.

The morning kicked off with Globoforce’s Derek Irvine, Vice President of Consulting Services, sharing among other things the following stats:

 

Only 20% of employees have received some kind of recognition within the past month, and that percentage only goes up to about 30% when stretched to a six month time period.  Yet 78% would work harder and 83% would feel more engaged with even a simple “thanks.”

 

Seems like a huge missed opportunity there, huh?  And let’s face it, without engaged and productive employees, no business can be successful in the long run.

We were then treated to an opening keynote with Shawn Achor, renowned Harvard professor, author, and “happiness researcher” in which he dove into some of the science behind happiness, helping to create a business case for the importance of caring about it in the workplace.  He touched on the following points:

 

The power of impact – don’t focus just on how happy an individual is, but rather on their potential to create happiness around them.

There’s a difference between pleasure and joy.  Focusing on pleasure is short-sighted, where focus on joy takes a longer view.  It’s possible to experience overall joy in what you do, even if not every moment generates pleasure.  And happiness is the joy you feel working toward your potential.

Happiness does not necessarily equal success.  The flaw in that thinking is that our brains constantly recalibrate the definition of success.  The greatest predictor of long term happiness is social connectedness, not achievement or success.  The keys to happiness, potential, and great leadership is making other people around you better.

Nurturing a culture where people not only receive recognition, but also willingly give it creates a powerful force for positive change.

 

I’d agree that he offered some great ideas and wisdom, but our challenge as HR professionals and leaders is figuring how to take these concepts and weave them into the realities of our individual organizations.

I’m looking forward to hearing more thoughts, ideas, and success stories as WorkHuman continues over the next couple of days.  Stay tuned for more updates, including highlights from tomorrow’s highly anticipated keynote from Michael J. Fox!

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

About the Author

Jennifer Payne

Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

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