Corporate Happiness: turning a threat into an opportunity

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Never before in history has the world been as connected as it is today. Due to the easy access to boundless amounts of information, millennials no longer train themselves to do one thing, but develop interests in a variety of different fields (here, an insightful article on the topic). Novelty is embraced at ease and jobs, just like trends, become ephemeral.

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Job-hopping has become a trend itself, and statistics show that the new generations of workers will change their workplace 15-20 times in their lifetime. While job-hopping used to be highly criticised, especially by the boomers whose career was one until retirement, the phenomenon is becoming increasingly more popular today. Regularly changing jobs creates opportunities to develop current or new skills, earn higher salaries, or simply experience something new, and is thus expected to be a happiness booster.

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Happiness, on the other side, has become one of the most fashionable and researched topics of the 21st century, from neuroscience, to psychology, and to endless self-help books on the matter. That was, however, the first stage in the evolution of the topic’s popularity: the focus has recently moved from personal happiness to corporate happiness, which is rapidly entering the field of business research.

Now, it is hard to argue which came first: did the employees pressure organisations to see the importance of happiness, or did organisations just seize an advantageous opportunity in implementing a new trend? However, more and more organisations are nowadays cultivating happiness inducing work environments. Colourful and unconventional offices, increased organisational transparency, flatter structures, collaborative spaces, learning environments, cultures that nurture fun and foster creativity are some of the characteristics of what one may call “the organisation of the future”.

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Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, in his delightful book, Delivering Happiness, writes: “one of the things that make Zappos different from a lot of other companies is that we value being fun and being a little weird. […] One of the side effects of encouraging weirdness is that it encourages people to think outside the box and be more innovative. When you combine a little weirdness with making sure everyone is also having fun at work, it ends up being a win-win for everyone: employees are more engaged in the work that they do, and the company as a whole becomes more innovative”. Consequently, companies who focus on employee wellbeing tend to be more innovative, and, as a result, develop better products and perform better, but even more importantly, they tend to have higher productivity and efficiency levels, as well as a lower absenteeism and employee turnover.

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These companies understand millennials and understand the importance of not taking everything too seriously. They are aware that people come and go, and that it is nearly impossible to keep an employee for almost his entire career. They turn a threat into an opportunity: to be more novel, more innovative, to learn to be resilient and adaptable.

What do you think are the characteristics of a great job today? Feel free to add your comments below.

Ioana

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