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The Happiness Factor

Updated: Jan 8, 2022

The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has introduced a new measurement of national prosperity, focusing on the “happiness factor” rather than economics. After I did a little digging, I learned that there has been growing interest in this concept, known as “gross national happiness” (GNH). The idea is that a happy workforce is more productive and, ultimately, more successful.

The idea is to look beyond material fulfillment, and incorporate other important aspects such as quality of life, leisure time, a sense of belonging in the community, and how integrated one feels with his or her culture. While material aspiration is an integral factor in economic development, GNH is not an alternative, rather a supplementary measure.

Extended studies indicate that there is something to this concept. Statistics show that among Bhutanese graduates studying abroad, a high percentage return home to begin their careers even though salaries are significantly higher overseas. What does this say about young people entering the workplace and what they find more valuable than salary? It’s no secret that we tend to excel at the things we love. Not always, but generally if you love tennis, for example, you’ll play more. The more you play, the better you play.

Apply this concept to the workplace and it gets even more interesting. In a recent TINYpulse Engagement Survey which collected more than 40,000 responses from employees in over 300 companies, respondents overwhelmingly cited “people” as what they loved most about their jobs, and “Freedom/Responsibility,” Culture/Atmosphere,” “Variety/Learning,” and “Challenges” completed the top five spots.

I’ve worked in a few dysfunctional organizations in my lifetime. You can “feel” the culture as soon as you walk in the door. There is little sense of team spirit, rather people are working quietly in isolation, either out of apathy or fear. It’s not warm, inviting, or a place that people genuinely want to be.

I’ve also worked in organizations that had healthy, creative cultures – the kind of culture that empowered and inspired people and fostered creativity, collaboration, and a collective vision to succeed. People were excited and energized to work together. And you could feel it in the air.

Think about the culture in your organization. Is it a place where people want to be?

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