This Happiness Stuff Works : Proof of Concept
While we are under sworn secrecy with specific turn-arounds (and yes, we will always keep yours confidential, too), there are swarms of studies and anecdotes that prove workplace happiness is integral in productivity and ROI. Here are just a few.
Finding causal relations between employee well-being and company performance is important for firms to justify spending corporate resources to provide a happier work environment for their employees.
HP Finds Its Growth Mindset — and Reignites a Culture
In 2014, the Hewlett- Packard Company had a market cap of roughly $29 billion. Today, HP alone is worth more than $30 billion. Its stock has more than doubled since 2016; the company has seen double-digit revenue growth year over year; and employee engagement is up 22% from 2016 to 2018, according to a third-party survey conducted company-wide.
Much of that success is due to a relentless devotion to growth mindset, quality conversations, and leadership principles that foster — not impede —
a culture of innovation.
Research has found time and again that a growth mindset is critical for major organizational shakeups. If employees see their abilities, roles, and teams as fixed
and incapable of change, they’re less likely to perform at their full potential. The most ardent resistors may even actively work against the change rather than seeing it as an opportunity for improvement.
If leaders want their teams to act in certain ways, first they must get everyone to think and speak along those same lines.
A crucial part of the behavior-change approach for HP has been the adoption of leadership principles: short, memorable phrases that employees can use
to think in new ways and adopt new habits. If growth mindset is the mental framework employees use to accept new ideas, leadership principles are the concrete language and actions they can use to actually improve. The principles are Imagine the future, Inspire the team, and Make it happen — nine words that capture HP’s desire to innovate, grow, and execute.
The overall impact has been tremendous. Since its 2015 split, the company has soared from a “multi-billion-dollar startup,” to a titan in the consumer electronics industry. News headlines in 2017 heralded HP as the little brother outshining its former family, thanks to its dominance in 3D printing and delivery of home computers and desktop printers. At the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, HP reeled in 77 awards for its range of innovative products.
Behind the scenes is an ever-strengthening culture where a spirit of innovation is contagious. Much of the success has been due to a focus on development, including self-guided learning paths on HP’s internal platform Brain Candy, among many other avenues for continuous learning. This is in addition to making stakeholders feel valued through a renewed focus on the employee experience. HP launched a comprehensive set of programs, from diversity and inclusion to rewards and recognition, that enable its people to thrive. New benefits were introduced, such as added paid time off and greater benefits for new parents, including newborn kits that give employees a bundle of supplies for their infants. Think of it as a growth mindset that spans generations.
As HP moves into the future, leadership hopes to put growth mindset to even greater use. The company wants to filter everyday processes through the lens of getting better, so that employees can approach feedback and coaching with a growth mindset. HP is tracking all of this on its annual employee survey, with new questions that specifically target the organization’s focus on growth.
The goal is to further embed the concept into all aspects of HP’s operations, so that the idea is no longer simply a “headline,” but an everyday process that hums in the background.
The Element of Possibility
Proud History. Strong Future.
Paul O'Neil took the reigns of Alcoa in 1987, the world's leading producer of aluminum; O'Neil announced that his sole priority was to increase worker safety. A shock to his board room. O'Neil understood, however, that safety was a major concern for his workers. Over the next 13 years employee productivity soared as accident rates decreased from roughly one per week per plant to some plants going years without an accident. When O'Neil stepped away just over a decade later, Alcoa's annual income had grown 500%!
Research by Oxford University's Saïd Business School, in collaboration with British multinational telecoms firm BT, has found a conclusive link between happiness and productivity.
An extensive study into happiness and productivity has found that workers are 13 percent more productive when happy. The research was conducted in the contact centers of British telecoms firm BT over a six month period by Jan-Emmanuel De Neve (Saïd Business School, University of Oxford) George Ward (MIT) and Clement Bellet (Erasmus University Rotterdam).
The BT workers were asked to rate their happiness on a weekly basis for six months using a simple email survey containing five emoji buttons representing states of happiness—from very sad to very happy. Data on attendance, call-to-sale conversion and customer satisfaction were tracked, along with the worker's scheduled hours and breaks. The researchers collated this information alongside administrative data obtained from the firm on worker characteristics, work schedules and productivity.
The study also factored in local weather conditions and uncovered a clear negative relationship between adverse weather conditions and the happiness of the workers.
The researchers found that happy workers do not work more hours than their discontented colleagues—they are simply more productive within their time at work.