“Providing happiness twenty-six times a year.”
How about that for a company’s answer to the “Why do we exist?” question? This exact phrase came up in a recent conversation around why organizations exist, and the executive that provided that answer was of course saying so in jest.
Providing happiness twenty-six times a year. I can see it under a business’s logo in the final shot of an advertisement, can’t you? Or perhaps as the tagline on a recruiter’s business card.
It’s sad that some employees view organizations that they work with like that. It’s even more sad–or is it sadder?–that we let them get away with it. It’s even sadder still that organizations might actually be content with that being the case. They provide that paycheck twenty-six times a year, and that’s about it.
But what if–and I’m just spitballing here–organizations took a deeper and more substantive approach to their employees? What if, underneath all the hubbub and hullaballoo about employee engagement and all that jazz, we actually cared about our employees’ happiness in such a sincere way that we became determined to work intentionally toward doing something far beyond simply “providing happiness twenty-six times a year.”
It’s not like I’m the first guy to think or talk like this. Among the most recent examples, of course, is Zappos’ Tony Hsieh, who penned (can we still use that verb even though it’s highly unlikely he ever actually used a pen during the writing process?) his almost-autobiographical-but-still-kind-of-a-business-manifesto-of-sorts Delivering Happiness. The essence of the book is that Zappos–and no, I’m not saying to be just like them–made a decision that that–delivering happiness–was their core purpose, their reason for being.
We, as leaders, HR and organizational development practitioners, consultants, or whoever else, need to put our collective foot down. Why should work suck? Why should employees dread something they spend a majority of their waking hours doing? I’m not even talking about the…ahem…”attitudinally-challenged,” eternally pessimistic employees. I’m talking about the good ones–the ones who work tirelessly for you, your organization, your customers (or members, in the credit union space), and their teammates. What if we worked more intentionally to provide meaningful work for them? What if we took the time to really, truly get to know them as human beings? What if we invested in them, personally and professionally, in ways that showed we cared about them and their happiness more than twenty-six times a year?
What if we looked at our work within organizations as a way to make the world a better place, one workplace at a time?
I’m in. Are you?