Tag Archives: productivity

Why Organizations Care about Employee “Happiness”

“Command-and-control” managers of the past might have scoffed at current business research on happiness.
Under their spans-of-control, employees ought to have been happy to have a job from which they derived an income.
This view has been supplanted by widespread recognition that desirable outcomes like innovative problem solving, flexible decision making, and workplace productivity are associated with employees’ positive mood.

GallupResearch by the Gallup Organization offers further justification in its finding that disgruntled employees disengage and cost the American economy up to $350 billion a year in lost productivity.

Therefore, organizations can increase financial performance by improving operational efficiency in the many processes involving people.

Sigal Barsade

Sigal Barsade

Sigal Barsade of the Wharton School of Business contributed to the investigation of happiness’s impact on organizational productivity.
She found that positive moods prompt “more flexible decision-making, wider search behavior and greater analytic precision,” which enable the organization to take considered risks.

Jennifer Aaker

Jennifer Aaker

On the other coast, Jennifer Aaker, award-winning professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, links workplace happiness and a sense of meaning.

She asserts that having a meaningful impact on the world is a strong predictor of happiness and that it’s possible to cultivate mindfulness and awareness of meaning in work and personal activities.
This cultivated awareness, she said, influences people’s subjective well-being and may positively affect that of others in a contagion effect.

Jonathan Haidt

Jonathan Haidt

New York University’s Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist in the Stern School of Business, takes a more philosophical view of happiness.
He redefines “wisdom” – other might say “leadership” or “self-management” – as the ability to adapt, shape the environment, and know when to move to new environments.

His moral and ethical framework includes high-level philosophical “virtues” associated with a sense of well-being and shared across cultures:

  • Courage
  • Humanity
  • Justice
  • Temperance
  • Transcendence

The Happiness HypothesisHaidt’s book, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom , specified contributors to well-being:

  • Strong marriages
  • Physical touch
  • Meaningful relationships
  • Religious affiliation
  • Autonomy
  • Meaningful engagement in work
  • Contributing to a community through voluntary effort

Engineering organizations analyze issues according to “Is-Is Not.
Using this approach, Jonathan Haidt’s research offered some surprising happiness detractors or “is-nots”:

  • Persistent noise
  • Long commutes
  • Lack of situational and person control
  • Shame
  • Dysfunctional relationships
Matthias Mehl

Matthias Mehl

Matthias Mehl of the University of Arizona offered an additional contributor to happiness: Interpersonal dialog.
He found that volunteers who engaged in a meaningful conversation create shared meaning, strengthened their connections, and reported feeling happy.

Jennifer Michael Hecht

Jennifer Michael Hecht

Jennifer Michael Hecht’s The Happiness Myth, offers a framework for types and levels of happiness:

  • Good day, awareness, savoring, and gratitude for the fortunate conditions of one’s life
  • Good life, engaging in meaningful and challenging tasks that help provide a material quality of life and doing one’s best in any endeavor
  • Peak, choosing experiences that inspire awe and a sense of the eternal, connect to families and communities.

The Happiness MythShe cites familiar recommendations to:

  • Cultivate self-knowledge
  • Develop a clear view of one’s worth
  • Moderate desires
  • Appreciate mortality and time limits
  • Try new things
  • Increase involvement with others and the community.

Organizational policies can contribute to employees’ sense of well-being through establishing:

  • Opportunities for career movement and development
  • Regular acknowledgement and praise for a job well done
  • Focus on well-being as individuals through health and work/life integration programs

The payoffs to organizations include increased productivity, innovation and engagement.

-*How have you seen efforts to increase organizational “happiness” result in improved employee engagement, productivity, or decision-making?

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©Kathryn Welds


Chronotypes: Sleep “Fingerprints,” “Social Jet Lag,” and Health

-*Are you out of sync with socially-defined time at work and home?

Most people require about one hour of sleep for every two hours awake, and each hour of missed sleep results in deeper sleep until the “sleep debt” is resolved.
Health and safety problems of varying severity ensue when the sleep debt is unresolved.

Till Roenneberg

Till Roenneberg

Till Roenneberg of Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich investigated these health consequences by studying variances individual sleep “chronotypes,” or the amount of elapsed time until a person reaches midsleep,”  the midpoint between average bedtime when not determined by schedule requirements and waking time.

His Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired reported one less-known health consequence of discrepant chronotypes – greater likelihood of smoking. Internal Time
Roenneberg found that greater than 60 percent of those with more than five hours social jet lag are smokers and they have greater difficulty changing this habit than those with less social jet lag.

David Randall

David Randall

Journalist David K. Randall experienced an episode of sleepwalking and documented his quest to learn more about sleep in his Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep.
In it, he points out that sleep is crucial for muscle regeneration and long-term memory formation, and conversely, sleep loss interferes with these critical functions.

Other negative consequences of sleep disruption are even more dire.Dreamland
He reported that depression rates are forty times higher for people with insomnia than those without sleep problems, and that sleep apnea causes 38,000 fatal heart attacks and strokes in the United States each year.

The difference between the personal chronotype and socially-defined time can be considered “social jet lag” that can lead to chronic exhaustion.
Roenneberg calculates that more than 40 percent of the Central European population experiences more than two hours of social jet lag, which can lead to increased errors at work and in operating equipment like automobiles. These consequences can be critical when the work involves public safety in transportation and health care settings.

Adolescents generally experience considerable social jet lag because their average midsleep point is later than that of many adults, and is incompatible with typical school start times.
This is because typical adolescent brains release the hormone melatonin around eleven o’clock at night until after the seasonal sunrise.
In contrast, adults, who set school schedules, have minimal levels of melatonin in their bodies when they wake in the morning, so they are more likely to feel and act alert in the early morning.

Sleep, then, has both physiological and cultural determinants, as Roenneberg showed in his analysis of agrarian areas which may not have such technologies as electric lighting, Day Light Saving Time, or work-related reasons for early rising.
These people typically go to sleep earlier and awake earlier than urban dwellers, and have significantly different midsleep points than people in cities.

A. Roger Ekirch

A. Roger Ekirch

Historian A. Roger Ekirch of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University argues in At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, that before the Industrial Revolution, the typical sleep pattern was “segmented sleep” (also known as divided sleep, bimodal sleep pattern, or interrupted sleep).

People slept for two or more periods (called “first sleep” or “dead sleep” and “second sleep” or “morning sleep”) in medieval England, punctuated by a period of wakefulness.
Similar terms are found in terms French and Italian languages and among the Tiv of Nigeria.

At Days CloseHe argues that this is the natural pattern of human sleep, and is important in regulating stress.
If this is accurate, it would change western medical diagnosis of sleep disorders and might change expectations of “normal” sleep patterns for optimal health and productivity.

Ekirch’s review of historical records suggests that agrarian people were exhausted after field labor, so they would eat and go to sleep quickly after stopping work.
They would later awaken later to pray, reflect, have sex, perform manual labor, interpret dreams, visit neighbors, or engage in petty crime.
Scholars, in contrast, used this time for loftier pursuits –  to write without interruption.

-*How do you manage segmented sleep and social jet lag?

Related post:
Kept Up at Night by Intrusive Thoughts of Work: Elusive Sleep

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Companion Animals in the Workplace

Technology companies like Autodesk, Google, and Amazon made news when they permitted employees to bring companion dogs to work.Dog at work

This policy was viewed as an employee benefit or “perk”, but a recent study published in International Journal of Workplace Health Management indicates that bringing a companion dog to work can lower stress levels, increase productivity and make work more satisfying.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health conclude that companion animals can lower individuals’ cholesterol, trigylcerides, blood pressure, heart rates,  weight, stress, risk of heart attack, social isolation, inactivity, and overall healthcare costs, all of which benefit organization’s operational costs.

National Institute of Health

Randolph Barker and collaborators from Virginia Commonwealth University examined a service-manufacturing-retail company in North Carolina with 550 employees and between 20 – 30 companion dogs.

Randolph Barker

Randolph Barker

Researchers measured 76 employees’ stress levels via surveys of attitudes toward animals in general and in the workplace.
Equal numbers of employees perceived dogs’ presence as increasing or decreasing work productivity.

Employees’ perceived stress levels, measured by cortisol in saliva samples, were significantly lower and job satisfaction was higher on days when dogs were present at work.

Companion dogs at work appeared to boost interpersonal communication, organizational engagement, and morale when employees who did not own dogs asking dog owners to interact with dogs or take them for a walk.

Considerable research around the globe suggests that the stress-reducing effect of companion dogs is tied to an increase in oxytocin when humans and dogs interact.

Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg

Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg

Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg of Uppsala University and author of The Oxytocin Factor: Tapping the Hormone of Calm, Love, And Healing, reported that women and their dogs experienced similar increases in oxytocin levels after ten minutes of friendly contact, and women’s oxytocin response was significantly correlated to the quality of the bond they reported in a survey taken prior to the interacting with their dogs.

The Oxytocin Factor

Likewise, JS Odendaal and RS Meintjes, then of Pretoria Technikon, showed that friendly contact between dogs and humans release oxytocin in both and Miho Nagasawa‘s team  at Azabu University found that amount of oxytocin among dog owners increased with the amount of time they shared eye contact with their dogs.

Suzanne C. Miller’s research group showed that oxytocin increased among women but not men after greeting their companion dog when returning home from work.

Christopher Honts

Christopher Honts

Christopher Honts and Matthew Christensen of Central Michigan University extended findings on stress reduction to evaluate trust, team cohesion and intimacy among teams collaborating on tasks when a well-trained, hypoallergenic dog was present.
During a collaborative creative thinking exercise, participants rated teammates higher on trust and teamwork than those without a dog.

Teams with a dog during the prisoner’s dilemma measure of trust and collaboration were 30% less likely to betray teammates accused of being co-conspirators in a hypothetical crime scenario.

Hiroshi Nittono

Hiroshi Nittono

Hiroshi Nittono and team at Hiroshima University demonstrated improved performance on problem-solving, attention, perceptual discrimination, and motor performance tasks after volunteers viewing images of baby animals compare with adult animals or food, reported in Public Library of Science .

Despite evidence that companion animals in the workplace reduce stress, increase perceptual and problem-solving capabilities and health indicators, barriers include:

  • Cultural objections to dogs and other animals
  • Allergies to companion animals
  • Animals without proper obedience and social skills training for the workplace

-*What do you think about potential financial and morale benefits of companions animals in the workplace?



<-Will this

Miss Sarah's Guide

Miss Fido Manners

be replaced with this? <—————>

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