Employee Happiness and the Bottom Line

Authors Dan Baker, Cathy Greenberg and Collins Hemingway write about successful organizations in What Happy Companies Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Company for the Better. Using real-world case studies, their book "shows readers how to build a company where individuals at every level can apply their diverse strengths towards shared goals that are meaningful, positive, and profitable."

They offer that "motivated employees are the keystone to business success", suggesting that "companies built around people, positive mindsets and long-term goals consistently out-perform unhappy companies." (Click here for a short book review.)

Having just been interviewed by two journalists about significant changes to corporate pension plans and having met Dr. Dan Baker, author of What Happy People Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Life for the Better, I started thinking about benefits and job satisfaction.

1. Has the flurry of headlines in recent months, chronicling frozen pension plans, layoffs, wage concessions, rescinded health care benefits and varying levels of job satisfaction, made it hard to implement a smiley face approach to work?

2. Accepting the book's premise that happy companies are profitable companies (something that makes sense to me), are they also generous companies in terms of new and/or continued benefits?

3. Do employees favor benefits that promote self-empowerment or prefer a more traditional, and arguably parental, approach?

4. How often do HR professionals break bread with C-level executives in order to design the optimal benefits mix that maximizes the happiness quotient while controlling costs?

5. Are certain types of workers happy even when the company's culture is sad sack central? (For example, there is interesting research that people who get more sleep are happier in their jobs.)

6. Can a company cherry pick happy individuals during the hiring process and thereby save (make) money in the long run?

7. Will rapidly changing demographics alter the way companies hire, train and retain and what role will benefits play?

8. Do employees react to news of rescinded benefits more negatively than never having had them in the first place?

9. Is happiness a function of how executives get paid versus everyone else, absolute dollars paid to executives, both or neither?

10. Are companies in certain industries happier, and if so, why?

I just ordered my copy of what looks like a very interesting book. If you know of research that addresses any or all of these questions, please let us know.
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