Tag Archives: featured

I QUIT! How you get out of a bad job before it’s too late.

Some people want you to believe that quitting is weak and for losers. They’re lying and we need to normalize leaving jobs that are not good for us.

In this video we take a deep look at what happens when you’re unhappy at work, how you can know it’s time to quit and how you can support others who need to get away from a bad job.

Content:

(00:00​) 1: Frogs aren’t idiots
(01:01​) 2: Introduction to quitting
(
03:45) 3: How hating your job hurts you
(
06:56) 4: Exposing the anti-quitting propaganda
(
18:05) 5: The excuses people make for not quitting
(
27:23) 6: Should you quit?
(
32:47) 7: 21 perfectly valid reasons for quitting
(
40:21) 8: What if you can’t quit
(
46:24) 9: How to quit
(
47:39) 10: Should you always find a new job first before you quit?
(
49:42) 11: We should celebrate quitters
(
59:22) 12: I quit!

References, articles and books from the video

Boiling frog experiment video

Boiling frog myth

Relationship between a bad job and poor health

A bad jobs affect sleep

A bad job makes you gain weight

A bad job hurts mental health

Unhappy workers are less productive

Japanese runner breaks leg

Effective propaganda exploits existing biases

Ambiguity effect

The status quo bias

Loss aversion

The endowment effect

Successful Stanford dropouts

Emotional contagion

How Herbalife and other MLMs scam people

The No Asshole Rule – excellent book by Bob Sutton

Turing pharmaceuticals raised prices

Hope theory

Stories from people who quit without first finding a new jobs

Apprentice car mechanic commits suicide after being bullied

Steve Ballmer throws a chair

The most basic freedom is the freedom to quit

The true cost of employee turnover

Bosses try to predict who will quit

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The Cult Of Overwork

60-hour workweeks (or more!) kill people. That seems bad and we should probably stop it. In this video I explain how we get back to or even below 40 hours of work a week.

References from the videos

CNN’s article on “The Secrets Of Greatness.

Jack Ma and the 996 Rule.

Working hours in different countries.

The first org chart.

The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure, by Juliet B. Schor.

The Industrial Revolution In Manchester.

Rutger Bregmann: Utopia For Realists.

Tom Markert: You Can’t Win A Fight With Your Boss.

HBR: Long Hours Backfire For People And For Companies.

Long working hours hurt cognitive performance.

John Pencavel: Productivity for WW1 Munitions Workers.

Overtime in game developers doesn’t work.

Why Crunch Mode doesn’t work.

Negative Health Effects Of Overwork.

Very few people can get by on less than 7 hours of sleep.

Gender bias in overwork cultures.

Men pretend to work 80-hours weeks.

What’s really holding women Back.

People overestimate their working hours.

People underestimate health risks of overwork.

Yvon Chouinard’s work days.

Fred Gratzon: The Lazy Way To Success.

Henrik Rosendahl’s work days.

There are some career benefits to overwork.

Interview with Rich Sheridan at Menlo.

Richard Sheridan: Joy Inc.

Knowledge Workers Are More Productive From Home.

Longer school days do not lead to better academic outcomes.

Homework does not help students.

Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule debunked again.

Hazing reinforces hierarchy, conformity and discipline.

Benjamin Hunnicutt: Kellogg’s Six-Hour Day.

European Union – right to disconnect law.

Universal Basic Income Explained.

Valve’s employee handbook.

US workers don’t take all their vacation days.

30-hour work week at Toyota Center Gothenburg.

 

Trump or Biden – who’s the better boss?

We all know how their policies differ, but how are Trump and Biden different as bosses? And who would you rather work for?

References from the video:

Alfie Kohn – “No Contest : The Case Against Competition”

Philip Rucker and Carol Loennig – “A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America”

Npr interview with Philip Rucker and Carol Loennig

Biden swears in staff

Lindsey Graham on Joe Biden

 

Get my books (Happy Hour is 9 To 5 and Leading With Happiness) free of charge

Times are tough for for workplaces all over the world right now. I would like to share some of my tools in the hope that maybe it can help a little.

So I’m making my two main books available as pdf downloads free of charge for anyone who wants them. There’s also no annoying email signup required or anything – just click below to download either book.

Happy Hour is 9 To 5

“It’s very, very good. It’s incredibly well written, full of insights, and there are exercises to improve your own happiness at work. You can’t ask for more than that!”
– David Maister, author of Practice What You Preach

“I have read well over 100 articles/books on topics covering happiness in the workplace and your book was by far one of the best. In fact, it was so informative that I went on and sent the link to your book to my entire professional network.”
– Chris Hollins, President, talentgrade.com

This book clearly explains what happiness at work is (and isn’t) and what each of us can do to have work we love.

Click here to download Happy Hour Is 9 To 5.

Leading With Happiness

“What an inspiring book. Every leader should read it and learn how to promote happiness for employees, customers, suppliers, investors, and even the leader him- or herself. That type of leadership has been integral to our success and I know it will boost your results too.”
– Garry Ridge, CEO WD-40 Company

This book presents a simple but radical idea: The fundamental goal of any leader should be to increase happiness in the world. Leaders who don’t do that are doing it wrong.

Drawing on fascinating lessons from psychology, neurobiology and philosophy, the book demonstrates why leaders should put happiness first – for themselves, their employees, their customers, and the wider world – and why happy leaders are more successful.

Click here to download Leading With Happiness.

If you’d prefer to have either book as a kindle ebook or on paper (how old-school) they are available here and here.

Meet the newest certified Chief Happiness Officers

Our latest Chief Happiness Officer Academy was a huge hit with 18 engaged participants from 12 countries who are now ready to go out and make workplaces awesome.

The only thing that wasn’t great about the Academy was the Copenhagen winter weather, but that might be a good thing. One participant wrote this in LinkedIn afterwards:

“It’s been raining most of the last four days here in Copenhagen, which has probably been a blessing, because otherwise I might spontaneously combust from all the incredible energy that’s been generated at the Chief Happiness Officer Academy.”

We had a great time going through the latest research and best practices on happiness at work. We also had a fantastic visit to DHL Express Denmark, where their HR Manager Sarah Olsen gave a passionate tour and talk about their happy culture.

Here are some of my favorite pics from this Academy:

The BEST way to measure employee happiness

Measuring happiness at work is a great idea and every workplace should do it because:

  • It shows employees you care about them
  • It identifies problem areas and strong points in your culture
  • It shows you what exactly to do to make employees happier and more productive

In short, if you’re not effectively and reliably measuring happiness at work, you’re missing out on one of the most effective tools to create a happier culture.

Sadly, the way most organizations do it just doesn’t work, because they measure too rarely (typically once a year) with too many questions and fail to follow up on results quickly.

We desperately wanted to fix that, so we created HeartCount – a tool that measures employee happiness weekly with very few but very relevant questions so that the organization can follow up immediately on any issues.

It’s incredibly simple:

  • Every Friday all employees get an email with 3 questions about their week.
  • They reply to those questions directly in the email. No login, no apps, no additional hassles.
  • Employees see immediate results of their input and management/HR can immediately access the data and act on any problems or wins right away.

Learn all about HeartCount and sign up for a demo here.

Disclaimer: I am a cofounder/co-owner of HeartCount and the one who came up with the idea for it, based on all the frustrations I noticed with the “regular” way of measuring satisfaction.

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We’re taking a long break

I started Woohoo Inc back in 2003 so we have been spreading happiness at work for over 16 years. Our keynotes, workshops, articles, conferences, videos and books have reached millions of people all over the world.

But something is wrong. For the last couple of years I have been unhappy at work and that won’t really do for someone in my business :)

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why work stopped being fun for me, but here are three reasons that have played a role:

  • For a long time we’ve been working on the same level, i.e. the same number of clients, the same number of readers on our articles and books, the same number of views on our videos, the same number of participants at our events, etc. I’ve tried many things to develop the business to reach more people but little of it has worked and when things stand still, I get bored.
  • There are too many people in this field who attract attention by saying either platitudes or unverifiable nonsense. For instance, some recent bestselling books have claimed that positive feedback is bad for you, that we should resist growth and development, that we should ignore emotions at work or that work should be duty – not passion. It’s frustrating to have to refute dumb claims like this over and over again.
  • My previous longest stint in the same job was 5 years, so this has been 3 times as long. Maybe 16 years doing the same thing is simply enough for me.

Simply put, it’s time for me to take my own medicine and do something to become happy at work again so from January 1st I’m shutting the company down for 6 months to go traveling. What will happen after that? I have no idea :)

Fortunately we have built a fantastic international partner network over the last 3 years who have all been trained in our methods and  who are doing amazing work around the world. They are ready to step in while we’re gone.

So if you’re looking for a speaker or consultant to come in and make your organization happier and more profitable, don’t hesitate for a second to book any of them.

Should you seek passion or duty at work? (Pssst: The answer is passion).

In an opinion pice in the New York Times, professor Firmin DeBrabrander argues that you should not approach work as your passion but as your duty. Looking for passion at work, he says, will make you stressed and is bound to fail anyway.

I think that’s complete nonsense! I know – what a shocker :) But worst of all it’s poorly reasoned nonsense that relies on a string of terrible arguments and deliberate ignorance of the research in the field.

Here are the top 5 fails from DeBrarander’s article and why you should most definitely seek work you’re passionate about.

1: He blames the long US working hours on people’s passion for their jobs

The United States offers a curious paradox: Though the standard of living has risen, and creature comforts are more readily and easily available — and though technological innovations have made it easier to work efficiently — people work more, not less.

Why is this?

One theory is that Americans have come to expect work to be a source of meaning in their lives.

There are no studies showing that people who find work meaningful work more hours than those who don’t.

If you want to actually know why working hours are still on the rise in the US, I think it makes much more sense to look at some of these factors:

  • Bad management practices
  • Workplace cultural norms
  • Economic insecurity caused by a hugely challenged middle class that are one pay check away from financial disaster.
  • The  high cost of college educations and the huge amount of debt that many young people graduate with – meaning that they absolutely must work or face personal bankruptcy.

Put people with huge financial insecurity in a workplace that expects and demands 60, 70 or 80-hour work weeks, and they most often have no option but to go along and work themselves to death.

2: Being passionate about your work means that you experience constant bliss

Most people are certainly guaranteed to fail in this pursuit [of passion at work]. Even people who love their jobs will report they must do thankless tasks from time to time. Few, if any, experience nonstop bliss, where sheer passion sustains them through long hours on the job.

Notice what DeBrabrander did there? He just redefined being passionate about your work to mean that you experience nonstop bliss and sheer sustained passion.

This is what’s  known as a strawman argument, where you exaggerate, misrepresent, or just completely fabricate someone’s position, to make it easier to attack.

Just to be clear: Being passionate about your job does not mean that you experience nonstop bliss. Everyone has bad days at work – and that’s perfectly OK. And of course every job contains a mix of tasks that you enjoy and tasks that suck – and that’s OK too.

3: Young people burn out because they seek passion at work

There is plenty of evidence that our high-octane work culture has serious consequences. It is at least partly responsible for high levels of burnout among millennials.

This is an especially bad argument because studies show that people who find meaning at work experience less stress and burnout.

And while there definitely is an increase of stress, burnout, depression and mental problems among young people,  it’s intellectually lazy to just conclude that it’s caused mainly – or even partly – by their search for passion and meaning at work.

Young people are also facing many other pressures, including a global climate disaster that no one is doing much about, while they are of course the ones who will have to live with the consequences of that inaction. Might that be a source of stress for them? No, says DeBrabrande – their real problem is that they expect their jobs to be meaningful.

4: If you seek passion in your work, you will fail

A recent study of priorities among young people found that achieving one’s career passion ranks highest of all… Finding a fulfilling job is almost three times more important than having a family, teenagers in the study reported.

It is daunting to contemplate. Most people are certainly guaranteed to fail in this pursuit.

Got that? If you seek passion at work, you are almost guaranteed to fail. Really? How would he know? Of course, he’s previously redefined passion at work to mean constant bliss and if that’s your goal, of course you will fail.

And just to make it worse, the study he links to in support of his claim is not even about passion at work. The actual finding is that 95% of US teenagers surveyed say that “having a job or career they enjoy” is important to them.

5: Passion means that work is the ONLY source of meaning in your life

We might begin by rejecting the notion that work should consume our lives, define and give meaning to them…

Again, the article dishonestly redefines passion to mean that work consumes your life and gives meaning to it.

In reality, passion for your job simply means that you are passionate about the work you do – not that it’s the only thing are passionate about.

In fact, studies show that people who are passionate about their work are happier and more active outside of work as well.

Why you absolutely should seek work you’re passionate about

This kind of attack on happiness at work is nothing new. Many serious people are coming out of the woodwork to declare that happiness at work is stupid, impossible, naïve, silly, manipulative and/or bad for you. In the video above we cover their 20 most used objections to workplace happiness and why they’re wrong.

DeBrabrander’s analysis is poorly argued and of course also wrong. Everyone should absolutely seek work they’re passionate about. There are many reasons why, but the most important are these:

  • It will make you happier at work
  • It will make you happier in life
  • It will make you more successful at work
  • It will protect you from doing harmful work – whereas not trying to find meaning at work makes it more likely that you will end up doing work that exploits or harms others
  • Work is where you will spend many of your waking hours – of course you should spend that time doing something you care about
  • Work is where you will invest most of your energy, skills and competencies – all of that effort should be invested in the service of a cause you care about

Paradoxically, I actually think DeBrabrander agrees! When he talks about approaching work as duty rather than passion, he bases this on an understanding of duty that comes from stoic philosophy. I have many, many issues with stoic philosophy – not least that it is based on the idea that we are all subjects to a predetermined fate – but it has recently become very fashionable, especially among silicon valley tech bros.

In the NYTimes pice, DrBrabrander recounts The advice of Seneca, one of the most prominent stoics to define duty like this:

Seneca’s advice to Serenus is to focus on doing his duty. He must perform the job he is best disposed and able to perform, as determined by his nature, and the needs of those around him. And he must forget about glory or thrill or personal fulfillment — at least in the near term. If he performs his duty, Seneca explains, fulfillment will come as a matter of course.

Duty, in this definition, is not just about having a “Shut up and do your job” approach. It’s about doing work that you’re good at and which meets the needs of those around you.

BUT THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT MEANINGFUL WORK IS!

If DeBrabrander had been the tiniest bit curious about the research in this field, he would have found that this is precisely how Amy Wrezniewski and others define the “calling” approach to work:

In the “calling” orientation, people are working not for career advancement or for financial gain, but instead for the fulfilment or the meaning that the work itself brings to the individual. People who see their work more as a calling see the work as an end in itself that is deeply fulfilling and regardless of the kind of work they’re doing, they tend to see the work as having a societal benefit.

It’s ultimately about working for something bigger than yourself.

The upshot

This opinion piece is poorly researched and dishonest – so of course the advice it gives is bad.

Seeking passion and meaning at work is the path to more career happiness and success and less stress and burnout. It’s also one way you can help create a better world, by making sure that all of your professional skill and energy is spent in the service of something that you can clearly see is making the world a better place, rather than in just obtaining a pay check or career advancement.

I have to say, if you make your career choices with no consideration for where your passions lie, I honestly pity you.

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Our 4 best tips for a happy vacation

The Summer holidays are right around the corner here in the northern hemisphere and I am really excited for it. No matter how much you love your job, you should still look forward to some time off, where you can do something completely different.

But it’s important to do your vacation right. If not, you risk ruining the whole thing by doing emails at the pool or by feeling bad about the work you didn’t do before going on vacation. That’s not doing anyone any favors – not even the workplace – because time off from work is a prerequisite for happiness and productivity.

So here are our 4 best tips for having a happy vacation.

1: Actually take a vacation

I can’t believe I even have to say this, but in many countries people don’t take the vacation time they’re entitled to. One person wrote this comment on my blog:

I’m 34 and haven’t had a real vacation since my childhood vacations with my parents. The only way I manage to take an entire week off at a time (I work in IT) is when I’m able to schedule a week or two of “unemployment” between jobs, and in those periods, spending money on a trip is not wise.

I’m tied to my email/pager even on weekends and holidays and on the scattered “vacation” days I can take. Most Americans only get 2-3 weeks of combined sick and vacation time in any case, and professionals are expected to read email and be available, even on their days “off”.

I wonder how many people are able to have a real vacation these days!

US workers typically get very little vacation time, and often don’t even take all the vacation they do get. The Japanese have a similar problem where many workers don’t take the vacation days they’re entitled because they feel they’re letting down their coworkers.

Take your vacations. And if you work for a company that refuses to understand that human beings need time off from work, quit and go work for a company that actually cares about its people.

2: Get organized before you go

Clear out any outstanding work and your email inbox. This will give you clarity and control of any tasks. This sounds boring but it’s quite satisfying to get your work organized and go on vacation with an empty inbox.

And if you know there are important tasks that you can’t get done before you leave, hand them over to a coworker in plenty of time. Make sure to hand over the task with all necessary information so it’s easy for your coworkers to take over. That also keeps them from having to disturb you on your vacation, so you’re helping both them and yourself.

3: Don’t work on your vacation

Don’t bring the company mobile and don’t read work-related emails. Take a real vacation and let your brain do something completely different.

Instead, spend some time doing new things you’ve wanted to try for a long time but haven’t had time for. Go rollerskating, windsurfing, fishing or whatever strikes your fancy. Can I suggest swing dancing? It’s amazing!

Or maybe just kick off your shoes and go lie in a hammock. Stare out at the water. Have days with no plans and time for reflection.

4: Close your email inbox completely

If you have some vacation time coming up, and if you’re like most people, you will put up an autoreply email just before you leave, saying that you’re gone, when you’ll be back and who to contact if it’s urgent.

I have talked to many people who mention both of these as a source of stress and I’ve just seen too many parents on family vacations handling work emails on their phone/laptop by the pool, when they should’ve been playing with their kids.

Fortunately, there’s an alternative: Close your inbox while you’re away. This may seem like a weird idea but some workplaces are already doing it. Here’s how you can close your inbox completely on your vacation.

I’m taking all of July off and I will be doing exactly that.

The upshot

For crying out loud: Take your vacation time and make it a good one.

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How to measure happiness at work – and how NOT TO

Most companies conduct regular job satisfaction surveys, but they often don’t work very well and fail to deliver tangible improvements to employees’ perception of their workplace. This leads to increased unhappiness among employees and from there to lower productivity and higher employee turnover.

In this video we cover:

  • Why you absolutely should measure happiness at work
  • Why traditional job satisfaction surveys often fail
  • Better ways to measure happiness at work – ie. more often, more relevant and more valuable
  • Share specific experiences from a company that tried it
  • A very brief introduction to Heartcount – a unique new tool for measuring happiness at work