Sunday, October 30, 2016

"Are we actually meant to be happy at work?"/ "Two-thirds of employees are ready to jump"

Sept. 19, 2016 "Are we actually meant to be happy at work?": I found this article by Leah Eichler in the Globe and Mail on Sept. 17, 2016:

As a kid, a trip to Disney World felt like the ultimate vacation destination. While my children would certainly welcome the opportunity to visit the Magic Kingdom, their access to so many other virtual fantasy worlds means it doesn’t hold the same appeal. They certainly wouldn’t buy into the tag line that the venue is “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

Nowadays, we seem simultaneously confused by and obsessed with the concept of happiness. This likely explains why there is a World Happiness index that ranks the happiest countries on Earth (Canada comes in sixth) and why books like Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project became an international bestseller. Organizations now compete with each other to be named one of the happiest places to work. It accompanies the belief that the emotion remains integral to a company’s bottom line.

“Happiness, in its various guises, is no longer some pleasant add-on to the more important business of making money, or some New Age concern for those with enough time to sit around baking their own bread. … It has penetrated the citadel of global economic management,” writes William Davies, author of The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Well-Being.

That desire for happier employers is presumably the motive behind Amazon’s recent announcement that it intends to experiment with a 30-hour workweek. The company seems to want to leave behind the highly unflattering narrative presented in last year’s New York Times exposé of Amazon’s recruitment and employee management practices, which one former HR executive described as “purposeful Darwinism.”

Can such a company – at which one executive said he had seen most of his colleagues cry at their desks – really be buying into the business case for happiness? Perhaps. If so, it is far from alone in its attempt to appeal to a new generation of workers who, more than anything else, are demanding happiness, said Neil Patel, co-author of the newly published book Hustle: The Power to Charge Your Life with Money, Meaning, and Momentum.

What people want now, he maintains, is freedom and the flexibility to do what they love. In other words, they want to be happy. That’s why Amazon is rethinking work hours, he said, and why companies such as LinkedIn offer unlimited vacations.

“They know to get top talent you need to make it an enjoyable place where people want to work. … It’s not just about work-life balance. They want you to be happy,” Mr. Patel said.

This is no small shift, he argued, but a new American Dream, where increasingly employees’ professional lives will become more personal, raising their happiness quotient and producing better results.

“The biggest change … is that more companies are treating employees like a person, like a family member and not just a line worker,” he added.
Sounds great, but how far will companies be expected to go to ensure their employees are happy? How do we measure the impact of happiness? Do we really want our companies to feel like families? And what does this mean for life outside work?

According to André Spicer and Carl Cederstrom, co-authors of The Wellness Syndrome, expectations of happiness on the job can have a negative impact on your relationships with your boss as well as your relationships at home. They cite research that shows those who search for happiness at work can conflate bosses with spouses or parents, and when they don’t receive the emotional response they are looking for, feel neglected. Taking that to an extreme, when an employee is fired, they not only lose a source of income, but the promise of happiness, making them incredibly vulnerable.

All this talk about happiness may also make us lose sight of what it truly means, if we ever understood it in the first place. A recent ruling by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board determined that employers cannot force their employees to be happy. The issue arose when T-Mobile employees felt that their company, which demanded “a positive work environment,” was asking too much.

Expecting your employer to make you happy or demanding happiness from your employees sets high and perhaps unreasonable expectations that threaten to make the large number of employees who are already disengaged feel that much more miserable.

So stop expecting to find happiness nestled between the foosball table and beer fridge at work. Your office may not be the happiest place on earth – and that’s okay.

My opinion: That was a good article.  It was like business and psychology.

Oct. 1, 2016 "Two-thirds of employees are ready to jump": Today I found this article by Leah Eichler in the Globe and Mail.  I really like the picture of a dark- haired woman looking at all these graphics with the words "Job search."

Workers are becoming inwardly career-focused rather than on the company

You may not want to hear this, but the majority of your employees are considering leaving. Right now.
Sure, you might think your faithful colleagues, who cheerfully respond to your e-mails late at night and still bring in freshbaked cookies on Fridays are here to stay, but evidence shows otherwise.

According to a recent survey by payroll processor ADP Canada, two-thirds of employed Canadians, or 65 per cent, are ready to walk out their office doors. ADP divides these flight risks into three categories: “the uninspired,” “the casual daters” and “the dissed.” The uninspired remain the largest of the three groups, at 33 per cent of the work force. These employees feel little loyalty and can include anyone from “bored superstars” to “underachieving clock-punchers.”

Casual daters account for 16 per cent of the work force, and they passively keep their eyes open to new opportunities on venues such as LinkedIn. Compensation acts a motivator for this cohort.

The final group, the dissed, refers to the disaffected 16 per cent of the work force actively looking for new jobs. These may include high performers.

Lack of company loyalty is not a new phenomenon. A Workopolis report from 2014 found only 30 per cent of Canadians had remained at the same job for more than four years since 2002, down from 55 per cent to 60 per cent between 1990 and 2002. In fact, employee loyalty has been on the wane since the 1980s, according to Adam Cobb, assistant professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business school, when healthy firms began laying off employees to increase shareholder value and the social contract between employer and employee began to fray.

This shift toward being more inwardly career-focused, versus company-focused, will only become more pronounced for workers as the job market becomes more fluid, according to Ray Williams, chief executive officer of Ray Williams Associates Inc., an executive coaching and public speaking firm.

“The concept of a single, lifelong career has disappeared for most people, partly due to organizations needing to be flexible in growing, shrinking and reallocating the work force according to need and economic conditions,” Mr. Williams said.
With those changes, the concept of employee loyalty has evolved as well.

“Now, we can define loyalty as employers providing not just employment for workers, but a culture and conditions that aim at enhancing employee wellbeing and happiness in return for good work, however long that lasts,” Mr. Williams said.

Rather than viewing employees constantly on the lookout for their next opportunity as “job hoppers,” Mr. Williams prefers to view this arrangement as mutually beneficial, in which a company provides a corporate culture that remains employeecentric, offering them meaningful work and autonomy rather than just financial compensation.

In fact, “job hopping” may be mutually beneficial for everyone. Not only can companies allocate resources as needed, but some experts believe employees who move every two years may earn more and in some ways, act more loyally to the brand. As a work force, we’ve evolved into an employee-employer arrangement in which everyone does what’s best for them and it somehow works for everyone. Additionally, constant job shifting is no longer just associated with millennials.

Elizabeth Williams, director of brand and communications at ADP Canada, said that while 77 per cent of millennials would jump ship today for the right offer, they aren’t alone. Sixty-eight per cent of workers in the 35 to-44 age group and 64 per cent of those between 45 and 54 expressed the same sentiment.

The one risk she observed is that losing older workers can result in vacancies at the more senior level, a problem that’s compounded when those employees take with them experience and “institutional memory” – the trove of knowledge and know-how gathered over their careers. To mitigate that flight risk, she recommends employers ensure their compensation packages, including benefits and perks, remain competitive. Ms. Williams also recommends examining your company’s brand and culture to ensure the workplace remains somewhere employees want to call home.

“Our survey found that combined life-quality issues such as workload, stress and commuting were a very close second to compensation in what job seekers are looking for,” she said.

Then again, most employees will eventually want to leave, and according to Ms. Williams, that’s good news for everyone.

“Some turnover is actually healthy because it makes room for new talent. The takeaway for employers here is that a substantial percentage of their work force, including their top performers, are easy prey for a competitor with a good offer,” Ms. Williams said.

“The flip side, of course, is that if you are in the market for new talent, you will likely find your competitors’ employees are open to an offer,” she added.

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