Source: Financial Times, June 21, 2004 (Special Report on Corporate relationships)
Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess...
Working together to create wealth in a large organization is not, for many, something that comes naturally. If employees are not occupied they become bored, frustrated, impatient with the organization and indifferent.
Attempts to reconcile human nature with the creation of corporate value date back at least two centuries, largely concentrating on the ideas of Robert Owen, the Utopian cotton manufacturer, for the co-operative ownership of capital. The frustration stems less from the financial structure than from management structure and the way an organization as a whole functions.
The incompatibility may run deeper. Sir Clive Thompson, former chairman of Rentokil Initial, said that the people who were happy and well-adjusted were the ones who were extremely difficult to motivate.
Old hierarchies have given way in progressive companies to flatter structures where responsibility and initiative have been pushed to a much lower level.
A survey from human resources consultants Towers Perrin among 15,000 employees in six European countries found that only 15 per cent were 'highly engaged'. As well as the disruption caused by change, the reasons may be the stress resulting from cuts in staff numbers, short-term profit perspectives demanded of the survivors and any number of other gripes...
Source: Business Week, December 7, 2009
Working with Dr. Happy
Amid the financial crisis, human resources departments across Wall Street have been grappling with how to handle dark and brooding employees. Three firms, DBS, Credit Suisse, and American Express, hired Shawn Achor – who for the past decade has co-taught one of the most popular classes at Harvard, 'Positive Psychology' – to help. The first day Achor walked into UBS's offices employees were ashen faced, he says. They didn't show the slightest interest in anything, even their BlackBerrys. 'All these banks were in such dire straits,' says Achor, aka Dr. Happy. 'Employees had just stopped working.'
To get them moving again, Achor held happiness seminars, which explained how contagious upbeat emotions can be in the workplace and stressed the value of psychological vs. financial wealth. Achor also put employees and their managers under a microscope. His findings: teams whose managers had a positive attitude have fewer sick days, and higher productivity.
Happiness in labour relations and in working for a firm still seems to be a Utopia. Do you agree or disagree? Clarify your position.
Management and organization theories are too optimistic on positive effects of empowerment, delegation and motivation. This is all based on Revisionism (see 2.2.2) and quite a naïve perception of mankind and human needs.
What are your personal assumptions concerning mankind and his or her work(ing life)?