team working together in a conference room.

Happiness Management & Avoiding The Big Money Mistakes

I have some gems to share this week about how to develop your why and your what, as well as how to help your people. But first, I need to begin with a WTF

Talk about a $700K mistake, and Heaven only knows what the recruitment fees are with this, too. I am a huge fan of Moderna and what they did for others to ensure our safety in the ongoing Richter scale of COVID – but seriously? There is a skills shortage, worker shortage, and now a  baby formula shortage and this guy is walking away with $700K because of extremely questionable accounting ethics? How does that work out for the company which has been tirelessly helping us? To top it off, this guy only worked one day.  

A good way to summarize this is that when we place a high value on a select group (or on a single person), everything becomes imbalanced. For example, formula-fed babies rely upon three companies to feed them. One went out of whack, and now there’s a very scary shortage impacting millions of people. In the late 1800s and beginning of the 1900s, a series of antitrust laws were put in place to prevent monopolies, and provide opportunities to protect consumers and ensure balance.  

Obviously, those laws need some fine-tuning. It’s another reason why we need diverse businesses, so we’re not reliant on just a few companies, but rather many to ensure balance. This lesson can be applied to your own company; when you look at your employees, do they all have opportunities? If they don’t, your company won’t be balanced. Learning opportunities balance all of our employees, to ensure we’re not making $700K mistakes.  

There’s a new buzzword you should be on the lookout for: happiness management. While the headline of this article made me do a facepalm, it’s highly substantive on the basics. Maslow’s hierarchy is important here. For us to be fulfilled, which often translates to happiness, the basics need to be in place (food, water, shelter, etc.). Take Maslow’s Hierarchy and HR it. When you provide the basics like good pay and an excellent benefits package, it builds belonging with ongoing learning in companies. We love to apply unnecessary fluff to people, which just dilutes the basics, and people need basics to be happy. 

Last week, I presented at HRCI, and I talked about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as they relate to learning and development and HR. If you remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it’s a pyramid with five levels: 

  • Physiological needs (the lowest level, and the widest part of the pyramid)
  • Safety needs (the second lowest level, slightly narrower than the base) 
  • Social needs (the third level, even narrower than the second level)
  • Esteem needs (the fourth level, even narrower than the third level)
  • Self-actualization (the highest level, and the smallest part of the pyramid)

In the L&D and HR context, there are three levels: 

  • Payroll, benefits, and safety (the lowest level, and the widest part of the pyramid)
  • Onboarding, DEI, and culture (the middle level, and narrower than the base)
  • Continuous learning (highest level, and the smallest part of the pyramid).

 If you’d like to learn more about how you can meet your employees’ needs (and get some credits for this webinar), click here 

In this New York Times article, there’s a great quote that fits into what employers can be doing to make employees happier: “I don’t think these things like meditation or whatever employers may be doing to increase well-being are bad initiatives,” said Heidi Shierholz, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank. “But they do not substitute for decent wages, decent benefits, or sane scheduling.”

Driving employee engagement is a balancing act between what companies need and what employees want. It’s compounded by the reality that people, goals, and expectations change, and the shifts are often influenced by external factors outside of your company’s control. But what hasn’t changed — and what won’t ever change — is the importance of understanding the hierarchy of needs that underpin everyone’s desire to fulfill their basic, psychological, and self-fulfillment needs. When you start from this position, and ask the right questions to uncover what your people really need to feel safe and fulfilled, you can more readily and accurately assess your learning needs, and are more likely to be able to build and measure a successful learning program. 

Again: balance brings opportunity, which brings happiness.