Talent Management Blog

When the Harvard Business Review (HBR) and Talent Management post articles on happiness at work within days of one another, there is no way I am keeping my mouth shut, even if I did promise to go a whole quarter without writing a “happiness” article. But if you have been called a “happiness guru” by no less than the American Bar Association journal, you have to speak up when these things hit your inbox. Particularly when the venerable Harvard Business Review says we’d be “stupid” not to acknowledge the link between happiness and better business performance.

Frank Kalman kicked if off with his great blog last week in Talent Management, “Getting Employees Happy on Day 1.” Without calling us stupid – thanks, Frank – he cites companies that increase engagement by creating hands-on, meaningful work experiences from the moment the employee hits the door. This is not surprising – thinkers as diverse as Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman (Thinking Fast and Slow) and popularizer Malcolm Gladwell (Blink) have documented the importance of first impressions. Humans are wired to make snap judgments, and it should come as no surprise this is true when it comes to new jobs. The only surprise is that more companies don’t focus on it.

The current issue of the Harvard Business Review devotes more than 30 pages to workplace happiness. On its cover, which features the ubiquitous  yellow smiley face (isn’t there someone in Cambridge who can come up with a more original graphic?), it proclaims THE VALUE OF HAPPINESS: How Employee Well-Being Drives Profits and features five articles on the topic.

The first, which highlights how countries are turning to happiness metrics to replace GDP, and the last, about the philosophical history of happiness, are interesting but don’t really have much to do with well-being and corporate profits. The other three are of more use to those of us who labor in the talent management vineyards.

In “The Science Behind the Smile,” Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert (author of the book Stumbling on Happiness) notes that three distinct academic disciplines – psychology, economics and neuroscience – have joined to put happiness studies “on the scientific map.” Given this, it is not surprising that popular interest has “exploded,” spilling out of the ivy-covered halls of academe into the office. He offers useful tidbits for managers: “employees are happiest when they’re trying to achieve goals that are difficult but not out of reach.” He bursts the bubble of those office tyrants who like to keep employees edgy and uncertain: “… no data shows that anxious, fearful employees are more creative or productive.” Rewards vs. threats? “Psychologists have studied reward and punishment for a century, and the bottom line is perfectly clear: Reward works better.”

These are nice pointers, ones I wholeheartedly endorse, but they don’t exactly provide a clarion call for CEOs to order sweeping changes in HR strategy. The next two articles hit a bit closer to this mark.

In “Creating Sustainable Performance,” Gretchen Spreitzer and Christine Porath, management professors at Michigan and Georgetown, respectively, argue that worker vitality and learning are the keys to high-performing organizations. Vitality is defined by employees who are passionate in their work and lives. Learning is defined by employees who are regularly gaining new skills and experiences. In studying numerous organizations, they found that where employees share those two attributes they outperform competitors on a variety of metrics at double-digit rates.

The authors list four methods to promote vitality and growth:

  • Provide decision-making discretion.
  • Share information.
  • Minimize incivility.
  • Give positive feedback.

Of these, I found the advice to minimize incivility of particular interest. It strikes close to home. I have worked in more than one organization whose culture was destroyed and best talent chased off by a toxic hire in a critical role. One bad apple, does in fact, spoil the whole bunch. My No. 1 rule for improving workplace happiness?: fire the jerks.

Shawn Achor, Harvard lecturer and in-demand organizational consultant, follows with an article titled “Positive Intelligence.” Of the five articles, it is the one most directed at individuals, and might be the best of the bunch. He offers three prescriptions to increase your happiness at work.

  • Develop new habits.
  • Help your co-workers.
  • Change your relationship to stress.

Achor’s prescriptions are sound, but taken largely from the positive psychology playbook made popular by Martin Seligman 2001 best-seller Authentic Happiness (write down three good things that happen to you during the day, send a positive message to a friend, social connections are key, don’t sweat the things you can’t control. He touches on some exciting new research he is involved in, but not in the depth many of us would like). I am glad these ideas are now available to HBR’s audience, but I am not sure they are the groundbreaking insights a cover story would trumpet.

In summary, I am a little disappointed in the HBR special issue. Were I the CEO of a large company, I am not sure HBR carried the burden of proof in establishing that the link between happiness and performance is “absolutely clear.” I salute my friends at HBR for their focus on the issue, and anticipate that it will encourage even more workplace experimentation with employee happiness, but there was little in the issue that is new or different for regular readers of Talent Management.  I might be biased here — OK, I am biased — but Talent Management has been focusing on well-being in its many guises in the workplace for some time in its feature articles, columns and blogs.

What do you think; did you see the HBR special issue? Was there anything of value in it for you?

Tagged with:
 
Dan Bowling
About The Author

Dan Bowling

Daniel S. Bowling III is an expert on the science of well-being and work and conducts empirical research on this topic through the University of Pennsylvania. Formerly, he was a partner in a major law firm and later, the global head of human resources at Coca-Cola Enterprises, where he directed all HR activities for more than 80,000 employees worldwide. He currently holds faculty positions at both Duke Law School and UPenn. He also leads a consulting firm, Positive Workplace Solutions, that works with some of the largest institutions in the country showing that well-being enhances not just life satisfaction but productivity and performance, and writes and speaks extensively on these topics. He can be reached at editor@TalentMGT.com.

  • http://www.niespotykana.takarandka.com.pl portal randkowy

    The Slave of the Husband…

    Looking for in advance to studying added from you afterward!……

  • http://www.super.takarandka.com.pl super randka

    Woman of Alien…

    Ideal perform you have carried out, this website is admittedly awesome with wonderful info. Time is God’s way of holding anything from taking place directly….

  • http://www.girlymyspacelayouts.info/forum/phpBB2/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=258668 Hisako Willes

    Whispering Misty…

    So sorry you can pass up the workshop!…

  • http://www.wlasnie.takarandka.com.pl umow sie na randke

    Thorn of Girl…

    Great facts could be found on this web website….

  • http://www.wyjatkowa.takarandka.com.pl serwis randkowy

    Healing’s Dragon…

    to discover concerns to enhance my website!I suppose its ok for making usage of some of the concepts!!…

  • http://www.zakochani.takarandka.com.pl super randka

    Souls in the Waves…

    Very good Morning, I just stopped in to go to your site and considered I would say I appreciated myself….

  • http://www.randker.com.pl serwis randkowy

    The Ships’s Voyages…

    I feel engineering just can make it worse. Now there’s a channel to by no means treatment, now there is not going to become a chance for them to find….

  • http://dir.yahoo.com/Regional/U_S__States/Arizona/Cities/Phoenix/Business_and_Shopping/Shopping_and_Services/Law/Firms/General_Practice/?b=20 newmarket criminal lawyer

    Visitor recommendations…

    [...]one of our visitors recently recommended the following website[...]……

  • http://www.steveclarksondreammaker.com/assets/files/Inaugural%20Steve%20Clarkson%20Celebrity%20Golf%20Classic%20Registration%20Form.pdf 2010 youth football camps in georgia

    Websites you should visit…

    [...]below you’ll find the link to some sites that we think you should visit[...]……

  • http://www.monthlycarwarranty.com extended automobile warranties

    Sources…

    [...]check below, are some totally unrelated websites to ours, however, they are most trustworthy sources that we use[...]……

  • http://www.mysurveyexpert.com/marketing-research/ market research business

    Awesome website…

    [...]the time to read or visit the content or sites we have linked to below the[...]……

  • http://freegame.blogs.bftf.org/2011/06/03/selections-investing-4-uncomplicated-systems-to-track-selections-activity/ binary option strategies

    Related……

    [...]just beneath, are numerous totally not related sites to ours, however, they are surely worth going over[...]……

  • http://vimeo.com/27276623 jewelry stores in

    Online Article……

    [...]The information mentioned in the article are some of the best available [...]……

  • http://www.venturavacuumrepair.com/vacuum-repair-service/ kirby vacuums employees

    Check this out…

    [...] that is the end of this article. Here you’ll find some sites that we think you’ll appreciate, just click the links over[...]……

  • http://www.probioticcleansingdiet.com/master-cleanse/ beyonce master cleanse weight loss

    Cool sites…

    [...]we came across a cool site that you might enjoy. Take a look if you want[...]……

  • http://insidelacrosse.com/ilgear/news/2012/05/09/mueller-corp-chroming-out-nfl-athletes all college football helmets

    Gems form the internet…

    [...]very few websites that happen to be detailed below, from our point of view are undoubtedly well worth checking out[...]……

  • http://local.herald-review.com/bellflower+ca/pediatric+dentists.zq.html dental orthodontics

    Sites we Like……

    [...] Every once in a while we choose blogs that we read. Listed below are the latest sites that we choose [...]……

  • http://www.gericarefinder.com assisted living community

    Check this out…

    [...] that is the end of this article. Here you’ll find some sites that we think you’ll appreciate, just click the links over[...]……

  • http://www.scrapeboxclassroom.com/scrapebox-random-info-4/ scrapebox ping tool

    Check this out…

    [...] that is the end of this article. Here you’ll find some sites that we think you’ll appreciate, just click the links over[...]……

  • http://www.elk.randker.com.pl randki

    The Slave of the Husband…

    In search of forward to finding out excess from you afterward!……

  • http://www.katowice.randker.com.pl randki

    Souls in the Waves…

    Fantastic Morning, I just stopped in to visit your web site and considered I’d say I experienced myself….

  • http://pcmender.info/pricing/ laptop

    breath-taking helping create…

    hello!, I would really like ones possess writing greatly! proportion a person link applied concerning categories own write-up inside the nation ONLINE? Once you may need a competent about these types of area to unravel any type of specific situation. O…

  • http://test48.com test

    test…

    test comment a little|or other text} please…

  • http://www.krakow.randker.com.pl darmowa strona z randkami

    Healing’s Dragon…

    to seek out issues to boost my website!I suppose its alright to generate usage of a number of of one’s principles!!…

  • http://www.lublin.randker.com.pl randki internetowe

    The Silent Shard…

    This may in all probability be rather practical for some of one’s positions I intend to never only with my blogging site but…

  • http://www.sevgikutusu.com/Arkadas_Bul/Amasya_arayanlar_Arkadas_Bul.html Arkadas Ara

    actually helpful…

    Nevertheless wanna ideas concerning couple of fundamental matters, The environmental surroundings of style is generally ideal, everything is generally excellent: D….

  • http://www.poznan.randker.com.pl odszukaj milosc swego zycia

    Souls in the Waves…

    Great Early morning, I just stopped in to go to your internet site and thought I’d say I liked myself….

  • http://www.rzeszow.randker.com.pl super randka

    Souls in the Waves…

    Fantastic Early morning, I just stopped in to go to your web site and believed I would say I loved myself….

  • http://www.northerndating.com hearing aids cost

    superb site…

    My partner along with i dugg several an own publish once i cerebrated companies been owning invaluable unique…

  • http://graphic-design-wiki.com/index.php/5_Reasons_Why_a_High_dieta_proteica_Is_Awesome my personal sources

    outstanding web page…

    Generally A spouse in addition to i actually won’t likely read devote about web-sites, however My own, personal spouse and innovative, i was explain using this write-up extremely compelled myself consider and what’s more perform consequently! The man…

  • http://www.maxinmontreal.com/wiki/index.php5?title=How_to_Participate_in_Real_Funds_Casino_Video_games_on_an_iPad4213998 casino gaming

    Third Flower…

    My wife and that i have been now delighted that Albert could perform his scientific studies thanks to the tips he had by way of your web content. It really is from time to time perplexing to simply always be freely giving ways which a lot of people cou…

  • http://test165.com this

    this…

    test me again a little|or some text} please…

  • http://test484.com this

    this…

    test comment and {some|or other text} please…

  • http://www.youtubedownloadermac.net/music-recorder-for-mac.html music downloads for mac

    Informative and precise…

    Its hard to find informative and accurate information but here I found…

  • http://multicultimpro.com/index.php?title=Paginas_Para_Descargar_Musica_Gratis_-_Find_Safe_Audio_Downloads_-_seven_Essential_Guidelines_to_Prevent_Breaking_the_Law! this partnership

    breath-taking obtaining…

    I love that that you simply men tend to turn out to be approach upwards furthermore. This type associated with intelligent function along with confirming! Carry across the specific excellent functions men I have built-in someone men every single child …

  • http://dimalaga.es/index.php?title=Sensible_Recommendations_For_Making_Competitive_Internet_Marketing_Campaigns4845421 secrets revealed

    The Absent Game…

    In between me and my husband we’ve owned a lot more MP3 players over the years than I can count, together with Sansas, iRivers, iPods (typical & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few ages I’ve settled down to one line of players….

  • http://wiki.itready.org/index.php?title=Le--pmu-pronostic-gratuit-presse-demain pmu pronostics presse synthese

    baseturf.com blogs pronostics gratuits…

    canal turf pronostic gratuit…

  • http://www.larocka2.com/musica-cristiana-jesus-adrian-romero-can-christians-listen-to-secular-music.html service

    a geniune fantastic content…

    Regards for everyone concepts you might be discussing making utilization of the web web page website. Enhance the real taste I’ve reached share can become being acquiring duplicates inside your credit profile to discover accurate of every one of these…

  • http://www.squareclover.com/index.php/member/372610 Virus

    Souls in the Waves…

    Excellent Early morning, I just stopped in to visit your site and assumed I would say I liked myself….

  • http://justpostarticles.com/article.php?id=21678 relating to Bing

    incredible website…

    Extremely exciting points you have got observed, admire concerning showing. “Custom will be your own great manual involving human life-style. inch just through Donald Hume….

  • http://zhangweijierr.insanejournal.com/1530.html?mode=reply Genevieve

    Oppion…

    Invite you to read the articles in the blog….

  • http://www.aiongolds.info/?p=190 Donatien

    Good idea…

    I invite you to read the blog….

  • http://www.cohinfluence.info/?p=258 Berenger

    Oppion…

    Invite you to read the articles in the blog….

  • http://goingtohelp.net/groups/star-trek-credits/ Gaye

    Good idea…

    I invite you to read the blog….

  • http://radjaa.com/groups/l2-adena/ Egil

    AWOSOME…

    That’s great…

  • http://mediawiki.tortoisehost.com/index.php?title=Payday_Loans_To_generate_Payments_Till_The_next_Pay_day_Check5825215 NFL Standings

    breath-taking getting…

    When My student’s spouse in conjunction with i observed such type of internet blog My individual lover and great spouse as well as i proceeded reddit to be able to grant out many combined with the really just such because them….

  • http://www.tinyurl.com/b945a5h partnership in business

    The Absent Game…

    Between me and my husband we’ve owned extra MP3 players over the years than I can count, which include Sansas, iRivers, iPods (traditional & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of gamers….

  • http://www.breakthecamera.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=1032 Wilfredo Longfield

    The Absent Game…

    Concerning me and my husband we have owned additional MP3 players through the years than I can count, together with Sansas, iRivers, iPods (basic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few decades I’ve settled down to one line of gamers….

  • http://www.flawlscape.com/index.php?action=profile;u=598 Kaylee Chaidez

    Whispering Misty…

    So sorry you can miss the workshop!…

  • http://www.kejepit.com/member.php?162867-ruraneubs Minerva Stagnitto

    Whispering Misty…

    So sorry you’ll miss the workshop!…

  • http://www.hosthideout.com/member.php?u=130127 Justa Andrews

    The Birch of the Shadow…

    I think there may possibly be a handful of duplicates, but an exceedingly handy checklist! I have tweeted this. Numerous thanks for sharing!…

  • http://www.alfileresyregalosdenovia.com alfileres de boda

    high premium top quality webpage…

    Only wanna comment you have a healthy genuinely superb site, We like your own appear prospect truly exceeds expectation….

  • http://saphiresolution.com Diseño web barato

    the the the fact is excellent web-site….

    We loved under your personal control will obtain carried out these. The witty remove might be tasteful, your authored information stylish. yet, you deal along with acquire got a great edginess over which you may want get changing indoors subsequent. in…

  • http://www.loansandbadcredit.org/ loansandbadcredit.org

    The Absent Game…

    Among me and my husband we have owned extra MP3 gamers over time than I can count, such as Sansas, iRivers, iPods (typical & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few ages I’ve settled down to one line of gamers….

  • http://hamsterthoughts.com/motion/read_blog/25238/details-for-honda-city-2012-in-the-uk-essential-factors-in-honda-city-2012-explained-clear-cut-systems-of-honda-city-2012-updated This kind of contact website

    breath-taking building…

    There may you have to be actually a lot associated with details support this consider. That is an excellent level nearer to provide 100 % up-wards. I solely supply generally the thoughts in addition to because important produce though naturally might b…

  • http://www.zedfrilob.com/ dretkip

    You should check this out…

    [...] Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a few unrelated data, nevertheless really worth taking a look, whoa did one learn about Mid East has got more problerms as well [...]……

  • http://rearwheelhorsepower.com/tag/meet/ Automobile Forum

    The Slave of the Husband…

    Searching for forward to studying further from you afterward!……

  • http://www.sportsandpokeronline.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=818 Sidney Trundy

    Thorn of Girl…

    Excellent information and facts may be located on this website blogging site….

  • http://thecrypt.codyshepp.com/forum/member.php?action=profile&uid=40475 Chase Schriber

    Healing’s Dragon…

    to locate matters to improve my internet site!I suppose its okay to produce use of a handful of of the principles!!…

  • http://tehwarez.net/member.php?u=60 Luanne Courtney

    Woman of Alien…

    Fantastic function you’ve finished, this web site is really neat with amazing details. Time is God’s means of preserving every little thing from taking place simultaneously….

  • http://www.bbhandel.de/Aquaristik/Suesswasseraquarium/Zierfischfutter/Flockenfutter Flockenfutter

    Flockenfutter…

    I detected this actually good Article todayFlockenfutter…

  • http://vipclub88.com แทงบอล

    Whispering Misty about this…

    yes yo you will skip the workshop!…

  • http://forum.ascension-arthas.de/index.php?action=profile;u=638734 Angla Dallam

    Healing’s Dragon…

    to discover troubles to improve my website!I suppose its alright to produce usage of a couple of of your ideas!!…

  • http://www.lineageguide.info/?p=190 Case

    AWOSOME…

    That’s great…

  • http://forum.taheri-tennis-academy.com/member.php?action=profile&uid=1342 Emanuel Swim

    Souls in the Waves…

    Excellent Early morning, I just stopped in to go to your web site and considered I would say I appreciated myself….

  • http://www.fightingfitjp.com It Gives you nutrients from 17 fruits

    Healing’s Dragon…

    to uncover troubles to enhance my site!I suppose its ok to make usage of a number of of your principles!!…

  • http://hanoi.org.vn/wiki/index.php?title=Speedy_Methods_In_Protein_Diet_Uncovered3042041 dieta proteica dia a dia

    superb record…

    When our spouse as well as i admiration anything more truly exclusive employing this website….

  • http://www.jadedynastyguides.org/?p=350 Ghislaine

    Good idea…

    Do you want to read the page about the blog….

  • http://www.kentuckyfloydchicken.com/groups/lineage-2-adena/ Audric

    Idea…

    Pls spend your time to read the blog….