And when research shows that happy people are more productive, more innovative and better at cooperation, it actually turns out to be simply good business sense to look beyond traditional KPIs such as job satisfaction to make the company stronger by making the employees stronger. And no, we are not talking about every Monday off and a trip to Disney World paid by the company.

Did I mention that the same research also shows that happy people generally remain longer at the same workplace? In the consulting industry, which my company Valcon is part of, the battle for talented people is fierce, which is why we do what we can to keep them for as long as possible.

Would you perhaps also like to have even more skilled and productive employees that remain longer in your company?

I do not necessarily hold the answer to achieve that, but I can tell you what we are doing in Valcon. I hope that it may serve as inspiration to other executives who have realised that the annual appraisal interview and employee satisfaction surveys will simply no longer suffice.

WHY THE HAPPIEST COMPANY IN THE WORLD?

About a year ago, I published the aspiration for my company that we want to be the happiest company in the world. This aspiration is borne out of a recognition that it no longer makes sense to run your business in the way that we have done so far. The world around us is constantly changing but now with a speed, unpredictability and complexity that make it impossible to navigate organisations through with plans thought out on the executive floor. The demands for management, innovation, creativity and readiness for change have never been greater, and this goes for everyone in the organisation. Add to that generations of young talents that rightly make new and greater demands of their workplace and the opportunities for their personal development. Demands for a balance in life and work and first and foremost demands for meaning. They want to be happy.
The human challenges and opportunities at work and at home require new ways of ensuring our most important asset – the human talent.

Most Danish workplaces already offer their employees the healthy lunch in the canteen and a home workplace and all those other hygiene factors that make us so privileged on the Danish job market. But at the same time, we have perhaps never been under more pressure as humans in our attempt to live up to our own high performance demands and expectations of the perfect life and the impressive career.

Just think if we as a company could help our employees to be better prepared for handling the powerful pressure in their everyday lives and to make them happier. Just think what a difference this would make to your workplace, and just think of the ripple effect.

HOW CAN WE HELP OUR EMPLOYEES TO BECOME HAPPIER PEOPLE?

It has taken a year of ongoing surveys and analyses in cooperation with The Happiness Research Institute to learn more about what happiness means to our employees, how happy they are, and how we can increase their feelings of happiness.

But we now know which four factors have the greatest influence on our employees’ feeling of happiness. The four factors are:
1) Stress
2) Social relations
3) Job satisfaction
4) Self-esteem

For each of the four factors, we have launched a number of initiatives to prevent, improve and strengthen conditions. Let me tell you a little bit about what we do.

WHAT DOES MEDITATION AND BUSINESS HAVE TO DO WITH EACH OTHER?

As a consulting firm with a sometimes extremely high work intensity, it may perhaps not come as much of a surprise that stress is one of the most important factors with respect to the feeling of happiness among our employees. WHO states that stress-related illnesses such as anxiety and depression will become the second-most frequent cause of illness after heart-related illnesses in 2020.

I consider the prevention of stress among our employees to be a necessary measure on a par with top athletes who receive training in how to avoid physical overstrain and thus injuries to ensure that they are able to continue delivering the strongest possible performance. And it has been an eye opener to see what a difference it has made in the company that we have created a space for talking about stress as well as a shared language for it. It has been an important realisation for us what top athletes have already known for a long time: Mental training is important in order for people to maintain balance. We have therefore begun to meditate and to make this competence available to our people.
Of course, I am not saying that meditation alone will make you happier or will result in more productive employees. But in Valcon, we are exploring all possible ways to help make our employees happy, great and small.

So my advice to you, dear executive, is to ask yourself the question, why you haven’t already begun to investigate how to make your employees happier. Your basis right here in Scandinavia is already some of the happiest people in the world. Just think what we can achieve in the global competition if we truly leverage that strength.

This article was originally published in Børsen Ledelse