Working Human: Happiness, Satisfaction and Engagement in the Workplace

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 2.40.13 PMWhere do you stand when it comes to thinking about the impact of happiness in the workplace?  Do you fall in the camp that believes that employers can make employees happy?  If so, what specific actions can they take to make the employee happier?  If not, do you think that employees are the only ones who can make themselves happy?  That leads to examining the idea that maybe it’s not about happiness at all.  What if it’s more about satisfaction or engagement?

These are the types of questions that HR practitioners and other business leaders are wrestling with in the workplace every day.  Enter the Globoforce WorkHuman conference to help us have a better understanding of the impacts of happiness, recognition, and giving thanks to our workforce.  I’m here in lovely Oralndo, Florida to participate in the 2nd annual WorkHuman event.  I have to tell you that as an invited guest, I would still tell you if I didn’t believe in the event.  In fact, I wouldn’t come.  This is one of those events where I can find lots to learn and many new business people to engage in discussion with on some fairly challenging topics.

We kicked off today with several general sessions that covered many of the questions in my opening paragraph.  Derek Irvine shared some statistics about companies who approach work from incorporating a more human experience.  According to Derek, “Companies that have succeeded with environment saw a 31% increase in productivity and their employees take 10x less sick leave.”  In addition, he challenged the audience members not to underestimate the power of a simple “thanks”, as that act can have a positive impact on engagement and discretionary effort.

The next session focused more on happiness and how it can impact our employees.  Harvard professor Shawn Achor shared research about the potential for person / employee to impact people around them.  Let me start by telling you that Shawn’s energy and passion for his topic is contagious.  I am always a little cynical, but he really spoke to the optimist buried inside me.  His research is showing that true happiness is not coming just by equating it with success because our brains are constantly redefining success.  He said that happiness comes when you are moving toward your potential and by helping others reach theirs.  It made me wonder if people can truly be happy if they aren’t moving toward potential? Can there be a stopping point?  I’m wondering if the phase of life you’re in can have an impact on this.  So many good questions arising from these sessions.

Obviously, events like this really make you think beyond the every day approach to work.  Stay tuned for more information from WorkHuman and be sure to weigh in with a comment if you have any ideas or opinions on happiness, engagement, impact or any ideas from the post.


5 Ways to Avoid Job Burnout

pg-job-burnout-signs-05-fullBlogging is interesting because sometimes you research and report, other times you give pure opinion.  Today is an opinion day, and it’s a fine line between doing that and becoming “preachy”.  The truth is that there have been times when I’ve been nearing job burnout during my career.  Face it, we all have those times.  It’s important to think about ways to head that off instead of waiting for things to get to that point.

One of the most stressful, and best, moves I’ve made has been working for myself.  I have to generate all the sales and then deliver to my clients.  That alone is enough to keep me up at night.  The strange thing is that as soon as I started working for myself in a position that fully aligned with my values, I began sleeping through the night again.  That had not been the case before.  I wondered what was different, because the workload and stress certainly was not less.

I came up with several things I had changed to make my working experience better for me.  I find these work, and I hope they work for you.

5 Keys to Avoiding Job Burnout

  1. Focus on your health- First and foremost, I learned that all the bad habits I had working for other people carried over to working for myself.  For example, I realized I am not good about taking breaks to eat lunch or a snack.  I’m bad about making time to exercise or even move around much during the day.  The first real change I made was to adopt a clean eating strategy.  This is not about weight loss or being on a diet.  It’s about telling myself every day that I mean something.  I’m important.  I don’t know why this has been such a revelation, but I feel that dedicating that extra time to cooking good food for myself instead of skipping meals has had so many benefits.  For a great guide to start eating clean, check out the Clean Eating online magazine.  There are some great meal plans to get you started.  Surprisingly, you’ll start to feel exponentially better within a week.
  2. Prioritize and purge-  We’ve all heard, ad nauseam, that we need to prioritize our workload.  Well, when you work for yourself, you are suddenly plunged into not having enough hours in the day.  Literally.  So, the only option was not only to prioritize my work, but to purge anything that didn’t align with those goals.  Looking back over the last 11 months I’ve been my own boss, I can see how beneficial this has been.  The main result is that I really feel less stressed.
  3. Reward yourself-  Sitting back and seeing all the companies that give employee recognition makes me smile.  For example, Globoforce is doing great things to bridge that gap for companies and employees.  I buy into this whole idea of making work “More Human” and as I’ve followed Globoforce and their efforts in this arena, it really makes sense.  The difference for me is that now, I’m the only person who can choose to recognize me.  At first, it seemed a little half-baked, but as I’ve started doing this, it really works.  I don’t have a regular schedule, and some weeks are more hectic than others.  I’m finding that even running out for a frozen yogurt in the middle of the workday is a nice way to treat myself.  The real difference is that now I am mindful that I’m rewarding myself.  Whatever the psychology, it works.  So….how are you going to treat yourself today?
  4. Make friends at work-  For years, working in HR, you learn that HR is no one’s friend.  Sure, I have managed to make a few over the years, but for the most part, working in HR you have to be a lone wolf.  Now that it’s just me at work, you’d think I have no hope.  Quite the opposite.  I’ve made a point to partner with industry colleagues who not only are smarter than me in many areas of HCM, I can rely on them to have my back.  What an awesome feeling!  For example, in this past year, I joined forces with some HCM colleagues in forming the HR Federation.  By having a trusted group of people, it’s amazing what it does for your psyche and your productivity.  Point being… get a friend!
  5. Take a retreat-  This is another tip I never bought into in my corporate life.  I boldly took my first retreat this past January and I cannot even tell you how many great things have come from taking this time.  Much like a reward for myself, I felt that as a working Mom, it would be selfish for me to go away alone.  I also travel for work, so taking a separate trip seemed unfair to my family.  I WAS WRONG!  I spent a long weekend at the beach by myself.  I didn’t keep the TV on.  I walked a lot.  I thought a lot.  I enjoyed eating alone and just observing the world.  The beauty of this was that I not only had time to be quiet and uninterrupted, I was able to make some major business and personal decisions because I finally made time to listen to myself.  For more about the benefits of a personal retreat, check out this HR Happy Hour episode I recorded with Laurie Ruettimann.  She also took a retreat this year and shares some great learning from her journey.

All these actions lead to a more human work experience for YOU.  Take a moment today and think about what you can do for yourself.  In addition, consider joining me at Globoforce’s WorkHuman event May 9- 11 in Orlando.  We’ll learn and practice even more ways of focusing on how to humanize the work experience.  Use discount code WH16TM300.

Ideas of How to #WorkHuman Today

It’s been a good week here in the mid-west.  I had a great time leading a webinar earlier in the week with Globoforce.  The topic was how to make our workplaces more human.  Tall order, right?  Well, I hope I provided many examples that HR leaders (and other leaders) can use to make small strides in this area.  In case you missed it, you can listen HERElogo_light_backgrounds2

One of the main points I made in the webinar is that people need a workplace where there is LOVE.  Not the romantic kind of love that is the nightmare of every HR pro around, the kind of love that means that you genuinely care and are concerned for your colleagues.  We all have so many things going on in our busy lives that sometimes, when things are less than perfect outside of work, we can’t help but let it impact us during work.  AND THAT’S NORMAL.  For years, we’ve all been brainwashed that we need to leave all our troubles at the door when we come to work.  We have to be strong, stay focused and produce, produce, produce.  Well, no more!

One reason workplaces quickly become less human and don’t have that love and compassion is that we don’t know many of our colleagues.  I was watching CBS Sunday Morning, my favorite news show, and they did a story about Freshbooks and how they are innovating in the way they encourage connection among colleagues.  Freshbooks is a Toronto-based company that has instituted voluntary “employee dating” at work.  This isn’t romantic dating, it’s setting people up on blind dates with colleagues for purposes of getting to know their co-workers better.  You can catch the whole video HERE.  Basically, employees volunteer to be matched with someone they don’t know.  The woman who makes the matches tries to select people who would never normally cross paths or work on projects together.  The two parties then have a “work date”.

While awkward at first, 100% of the employees who participated say they would do it again and it was worth it.  They are able to learn more about what other parts of the organization are up to AND they get the benefit of making a new work connection.  Think about what would happen if you tried this in your company.  Would it lead to greater connection, more collaboration, more innovative ideas?  I’d venture to say that it would.  That’s what I call #WorkHuman in action.

So, my challenge for you as we go into this next week at work is to view your workplace through a different lens.  Is it human?  Do you feel real connection there?  If you can’t answer yes to those, then find ONE thing you can do differently to start changing the tone.  It may just be taking a stranger to lunch.  I’d love to hear how it goes in the comments…


Hanging By A Thread- How to Make Your Workplace More Human

Did you know that you’re only connected to your employer by the weakest link?

Think about it.  No matter what we are paid or the type of work we do, we are connected to organizations we feel make strong connections with us.  If that organization, or the leaders we work with, give any reason to weaken the links that tied us to them in the beginning, everything begins to unravel.  That’s why it is no surprise to anyone who has done exit interviews that money is usually not the main reason employees leave your organization.  They leave because they do not feel connection to their leader or to their colleagues.

So, what is the thing you need to have or know in order to retain your best employees?  It’s a more human workplace.  What do I mean by more human?  Well, it’s the kind of place where you are recognized and validated.  You see, many organizations today think that they are doing something special by giving recognition, if they do it at all.  But like money, that is only a small part of appealing to your employees.  It’s giving them validation that what they do matters.  That WHO they are, the whole person, matters.

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There are many other things you need to know when it comes to making your workplace more “human”.  Join me Tuesday, January 26th for a free webinar.  I’m teaming up with Globoforce to spend an hour talking with you about strategies to make your workplace one where employees really will want to stay.  Be sure to share this with your colleagues too….the more people you enlist to get on board with this idea, the better your workplace will be!  Click here to REGISTER free.


Life Logging Your Organization: The Value of Performance Reviews

hrhappyrhourAs a career HR practitioner, I have been involved with many types of performance evaluations.  I’ve worked at companies where they are very important and tie directly to compensation and promotions and I’ve worked where they don’t.  Being part of the broader online HR community has also brought many discussions into my life about this topic.  It has also been a topic we’ve debated at HRevolution in the past.
Today, I want to share a new, evolving vision of performance reviews.  In our most recent HR Happy Hour podcast, Steve Boese and I welcomed Eric Mosley to the show.  Eric is the CEO of Globoforce and author of the new book  The Crowdsourced Performance Review: How to Use the Power of Social Recognition to Transform Employee Performance.  I have been a fan of Eric and his view on employees, social and performance for many years.  I remember being very influenced by him when I first heard him speak in 2010.  Check out that review HERE.
Fast forward to 2013 and he again brings forth a forward-thinking view on performance reviews.  Listen to Eric talk about the reasoning behind the move to crowdsourcing performance feedback and the benefits to your organization.

HR Happy Hour: The Crowdsourced Performance Review


The How and Why of Leveraging Internal Social Networks

How do you feel about influence?  Do you actively try to map it in your organization?  Over the last few months, I’ve begun to hear this theme come up more and more in the workplace.  To me, this is like the puzzle piece we’ve been missing.  I became more personally interested in it when I met Josh Letourneau of Knight & Bishop earlier this year.  Today I’m at the Conference Board’s Senior HR Executive Conference and it appears to be a theme they are picking up on as well.

Eric Mosley, Chief Executive Officer of Globoforce presented one of the finest sessions I’ve seen all year.  I’d like to share some of the items he covered regarding the internal social networks in organizations and the impact of tracking the relationships.

The discussion began around how the word “social” means different things to different companies.  It’s one of those words that is everywhere lately, much like innovation.  So, the first step has to be defining what the word social means in your organizational culture.  For purposes of his discussion, social did not just mean social network platforms.  It mainly meant the internal network that we each have in our organization in order to share information.

The How

Analysis by J. Letourneau of

Globoforce sees the benefit of tracking and identifying the internal social network and are doing so through social graphing.  It allows the leaders to see who the influencers are and which employees are breaking down the silo barriers.  This is where using social network analysis comes into play.  By visually charting the connectedness of employees throughout your organization, you begin to see where there are the greatest synergies and where the opportunities lie.  From a succession planning aspect, you also begin to promote not just based on who is “next in line”, but you see who actually adds the most value from a connectedness standpoint.  It will also indicate where your vulnerability lies because if you lose key influencers, it can fracture department relationships.

The Why

Eric talked about how the size of the organization can impact these relationships.  Imagine you have 3,000 employees or even 30,000.  It is not possible to share information easily among this number of employees in an efficient manner.  According to Dunbar’s number, the amount of relationships humans can absorb is 150.  Think how that impacts your workplace.  If you could identify the influencers, you could use them as the focal points in information sharing.  That would make those 3,000 or even 30,000 much more integrated in the organization’s communication.  It would also bring those employees much closer.

If you believe like I do that influence does not come from holding a specific title and that organizations need to do a better job of identifying their influencers, I encourage you to connect with Globoforce.  They are also doing amazing things with regard to identifying recognition via social graphing.

What are your thoughts?  Do you have any sources we should all know about around influence?  Share them in the comments.

*Thank you to The Conference Board for hosting me at the Senior HR Executive Conference.  As always, the opinions are all my own and I look forward to sharing more key learning points from this year’s conference!