A new piece of research highlights the importance of focusing on the well-being of employees to increase productivity and loyalty.
“Happiness works. Happy workers are up to 12% more productive than those that aren’t”.
and suggests that aspects such as supporting flexible working, trusting employees and encouraging openness and sharing are important for their happiness:
“The office can be anywhere … Within the next decade, 60% of office-based employees will regularly be working from home.”
“54% of employees want to be measured by their outputs.”
“Design spaces to encourage ‘bumps’ and discourage ‘interruptions’.”
These findings are inline with other research by Dan Pink, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Sonja Lyubomirsky on the link between happiness, intrinsic motivation, creativity and productivity.
It is worth reading the Journal article by Sonja Lyubomirsky called Pursuing Happiness: The Architecture of Sustainable Change. In her article she talks about different factors affecting happiness, some that are in people’s control (“Intentional Activity”), some that are related to genetics (“Set Point”) and some that are related to “Life Circumstances”, such as demographics and the effect of certain personal life events. She suggests that we can make a difference to our level of happiness by focusing on “intentional activity” aspects, however she also points out that this requires effort. She divides this “intentional activity” into three types of effort: behavioural (such as exercising or being kind to others), cognitive (such as reframing situations or being grateful) and volitional (such as striving for important personal goals) and provides evidence from a range of research on how each one of the three factors has a positive affect on happiness. However, Sonja Lyubomirsky also argues that the effort becomes a lot easier, and more sustainable and enjoyable, if a person can find meaning and value in the activity.
Sonja Lyubomirsky also highlights how “happy people gain tangible benefits” including “superior work outcomes (greater creativity, increased productivity, higher quality of work, and higher income; e.g., Estrada, Isen, & Young, 1994; Staw, Sutton, & Pelled, 1995), and more activity, energy, and flow (e.g., Csikszentmihalyi & Wong, 1991)”.
Shawn Achor builds on these findings in his entertaining TED talk on “The happy secret to better work”
I recently discovered a really good journal article from 2009 analysing the link between meaningfulness in the workplace and employee creativity. The full article details are:
Title: Linking Meaningfulness in the Workplace to Employee Creativity: The Intervening Role of Organizational Identification and Positive Psychological Experiences
Authors: Ravit Cohen-Meitara, Abraham Carmelia & David A. Waldmanb
Journal: Creativity Research Journal, Volume 21, Issue 4, 2009, pages 361-375
One of the findings of the study was that “when individuals feel vitality and aliveness, positive regard and mutuality, and high organisation-based self esteem, their creativity is enhanced”. Two of the key factors driving this link were job challenge and freedom. The other key factor was how the organisation was perceived internally by employees as well as externally by others. These findings align with the findings by Teresa Amabile and others. It also links to Csikszentmihalyi’s work on flow and creativity, where he found that individuals are at their most creative (and in the ‘flow’ state) when given challenging work, but also when they have the required skills. It also links to Dan Pink’s work, highlighting that intrinsic motivation of individuals is driven by having autonomy, mastery (a motivation to improve skills) and having a sense of purpose to what they are doing.
The research matches our own findings through running many sessions with organisation on creativity over many years, our own person experiences in such work environments, as well as the specific research studies we have conducted.
Theory U is described as “first as a framework; second, as a method for leading profound change; and third, as a way of being – connecting to the more authentic of higher aspects of our self.” It has been developed by Otto Scharmer and his team at MIT as part of the Presencing Institute. It is well worth checking out.
It brings together ideas from the areas of Intrinsic Motivation, Ethnography, Mindfulness and Design Thinking – and has a strong link to our own philosophy of creativity described in our LCD Model with the person’s ‘State of Being’ at the heart of the process.
To read more about their thoughts, ideas and projects it is well worth reading the book ‘Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economics‘ by Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer. They also have a lot of free content, tools and resources on their website.
You can also tune into the live stream of their Global Forum 2014 event on the 11-12 February 2014.
A global study by IBM in 2010 of 5000 Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) across 60 countries and 33 industries found that creativity was selected as the “most crucial factor for future success”. Some of the key findings in the study highlight that “less than half of global CEOs believe their enterprises are adequately prepared to handle a highly volatile, increasingly complex business environment” and that “CEOs are confronted with massive shifts – new government regulations, changes in global economic power centers, accelerated industry transformation, growing volumes of data, rapidly evolving customer preferences – that, according to the study, can be overcome by instilling “creativity” throughout an organisation.”
For more details on the study see: Leading Through Connections: Insights from the IBM Global CEO Study
There was a really powerful article written recently in the The Independent by Dr Peter Gray on the importance of play in childhood development and why the UK government’s plans to make school days longer and holidays shorter are misguided. I think there are also lessons to be learned from this article for adults too – and why play is important in general throughout people’s lives to support well-being, let alone creativity.
“Give childhood back to children: it we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less”