Relationships, Not Money, Prove More Valuable to People
In a 2016 report by The London School of Economics and Political Science, a fascinating fact emerged from their Origins of Happiness study: relationships and good health are the key to happiness, not income. If you’re a CEO, this should matter. Throwing money at your employees to keep them from going elsewhere and hiring new ones with the promises of big salaries may not be as effective as you think.
According to this study, “The evidence shows that the things that matter most for our happiness and for our misery are our social relationships and our mental and physical health. This demands a new role for the state – not ‘wealth creation’ but ‘wellbeing creation.’”
While this report refers to the “state,” a company, in essence, is the state under which its employees operate. As a CEO or business leader, this is good news. Your employees may say they want money and extravagant benefits, but what really matters when push comes to shove is how happy they are with the relationships they have, including at work.
First, let’s dig into the report. The leader of the research, Lord Richard Layard, said that when you look back the past 50 years, people have not become happier, on average, even though the average incomes have more than doubled. Further, despite the fact that living standards have improved over the last 40 years, enjoyment levels from life across the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and the United States have remained the same, showing there is more to happiness than economics. Income inequality was responsible for only a one percent variation in happiness levels, while mental health accounted for a four percent change. Finally, the study found that education provided a much less effect on overall life satisfaction than finding a partner.
What can a CEO do with this knowledge? Figure out how to build strong internal employee relationships and provide benefits that include programs to encourage mental and physical health.
Every employee you have likely works with at least one person, perhaps many. Whether you have a large onsite employee base or one that is more dispersed, finding ways for them to engage not only with their work, but with the people they work with and around is critical.
This isn’t always easy. Up to one-half of the American population can be categorized as introverted, meaning they prefer to be alone. Working with others isn’t in their DNA, but it doesn’t mean they can’t thrive. They have to work at it because today’s office environment pushes for open floor plans and cross-team collaboration at every level. The average amount of space per employee has shrunk from 500 feet in the 1970s to only 200 square feet today. Making things worse, 70 percent of U.S. offices have no or only low partitions. Poor introverts.
A surprising little fact about those “poor” introverts. Barack Obama, Warren Buffett, Hillary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg are among the introvert elite. I find it remarkable that the self-proclaimed recluse who changed our culture as we know it did it with the invention of a social app called Facebook.
What can a CEO learn from this? Your employees may or may not naturally work together (and enjoy it), but it’s that enjoyment part that is what matters if you want your employees to be happy. You may not be able to change introverts into extroverts, but you can give your employees a platform they will actually like to engage with each other.
Org Chart Software for Relationships?
If you’re wondering what the connection to org chart software is to personal relationships, let’s step back and look at what the organizational chart actually does. At the most basic level, it illustrates what? That’s right: relationships. These may not be personal relationships but it does show people how they are interrelated, who works with who. These relationships are important, even vital, to understanding the organization as a whole.
So it only makes sense that software that is in the business of highlighting working relationships could also help forge personal relationships, right? Stay with me here. At the essence of every relationship is finding commonalities. In the workplace, commonalities that bind are shared projects, skill sets, teams, even location of workspaces.
Personally, however, these go much broader to include our past, present and future. We instantly connect with someone who we know went to our same college, grew up in our same hometown, or traveled to the same favorite vacation spot. We have plenty to talk about when we find out they like the same restaurant or food, enjoy similar hobbies and volunteer at the same philanthropy. What’s the common denominator here? We have to know these things in order for them to help build relationships.
These aren’t topics that may naturally come up in the office, especially if it’s a dispersed workforce. If your company is organized by function, product, division or any other siloed type, your employees may not have much of an opportunity to easily connect, let alone have a relationship with, anyone outside of their immediate team.
Org chart software is an online, interactive platform that puts employees professional profiles at the forefront, enabling them to add personal details to help people learn more about them than just their name and title. It has the org chart with all the boxes and lines with which we are familiar, a handy employee directory, and employee profiles that resemble something you might see on a social network.
Every employee has access to this information from any mobile device on which they download the app. Now, searching for someone is not only easy, but fun. They learn more than who they need to talk to in finance about a budget problem, but they find out that person is a die-hard Dallas Cowboy fan like them. Now they have more to talk about than just budgets.
What You Can Learn from an Org Chart
CEOs can implement org chart software for a multitude of reasons, achieving greater ROI than many capability-specific technology solutions. The software is, of course, easy to use to diagram the organization, helping various areas of the business better visualize the company. Resource managers, for instance, can easily identify where there are resource gaps. HR can build headcount around underserved teams. Employees across the board can see who reports to who and where opportunities for cross-team collaboration may present themselves.
At the individual level, the software gives employees ownership of their profiles. They can upload their own profile picture, add personal details, and highlight their skills. Other employees can see this information to discover new team members for cross-department collaboration, save time looking for someone in a particular area or with a specific knowledge, or simply find a person to grab a beer with them. Names and titles are combined with photos, contact information, profiles and even vacation schedules so employees can be more productive, more self-sufficient and, dare I say, happier?
If happiness is based on social relationships, then we have to believe that when employees have the tool they need to discover those relationships easier and faster, they will be more satisfied. Since most of us spend at least a third of our days at work, building those work relationships is important. Facilitating those relationships is smart. As King of your “state,” you can shift your perspective from ‘wealth creation’ to ‘wellbeing creation.’ Hail to the Chief.