I got this question from a reader who would like to be anonymous:
As you travel around on your speaking engagements, and you work with and meet a variety of people, are you able to get a sense of what companies are really committed to the concepts you espouse? If yes, have you thought about, or do you have a listing or directory of these companies? If no, is there interest in drumming up such a directory, sort of a Who’s Who of Happiness?????
I for one am interested; and, I have passed your information along to all my colleagues — hence the reason I would like to remain anonymous. Yes, I am looking to leave my very unhappy situation. In fact, I recently used your interview questions on more than one occasion to suss out whether or not a prospective company was the right fit for me.
I would also like to know if geographics and culture play a part in whether or not a company or corporation — and its leadership — are more apt to implement, maintain and sustain a Happiness Workplace. For example, in the US we are seeing less and less of a work/life balance. A culture that puts work before family and personal life seems like it might not value happiness, so I am curious to learn if there are factors popping up that indicate culture and work ethics play a part.
Thank you, CHO, for your time and great work!
First of all, thanks for the kind words :o)
I work with a LOT of companies, and I do get a very good sense of which ones are truly committed to happiness at work and which ones just say they are.
Because almost every company these days will tell you that they want motivated, happy, empowered employees, but not all companies live up to it in practice.
Working with managers and people, I quickly get an idea of where a company really stands – and that could definitely be put into a listing of sorts. Or maybe something like a certification? As in “this company is certifiably happy” :o) Not a bad idea!
As for your second question: Yes, geography and national culture certainly makes a difference. For instance, because taxes in Denmark are the highest in the world, fewer people bother with overwork and consequently Danish workers achieve the best work/life balance in the world.
Also, according to the work of Geert Hofstede, there are differences between corporate cultures in various nations, which he categorizes using five parameters:
- Low vs. High Power Distance
- Individualism vs. collectivism
- Masculinity vs. femininity
- Uncertainty avoidance
- Long vs. short term orientation
In my opinion, happiness at work is more likely to be found in an organizational culture that has:
- Low power distance – so you can have good easy-going relations between managers and employees
- A reasonable balance between individualism and collectivism- so it’s not all about me, but not all about us either
- A more feminine work culture – so people care about each other
- A low uncertainty avoidance – so people are willing to take risks and make mistakes
- A long term orientation – so it’s not all about this quarter’s results
I have no proof for this and have seen no studies on it, so this is purely my gut feeling. However, this is pretty much what characterizes Scandinavian business culture, and Scandinavian workers are the happiest in the world, so there may be something there…
One thing that also varies between nations is people’s expectations for happiness at work. In Scandinavia we have a long tradition of focusing in employees’ welfare, so most people expect to get a job they will at least like, of not love.
In other countries, most people are still new to the idea that it’s even possible like your job – they expect work to be hard and unpleasant. Fortunately this is changing all over the world, and more and more people are choosing happiness at work.