“What is happiness for me? Well, that's a big philosophical question!” (Barack Obama, 2014)
I started studying the topic in 1997/98, but at that time the market was not very sensitive to these topics. And not even Morris's "What if Aristotle Were a General Motors Manager?" brought many changes.
But today there is much more talk about happiness and well-being at work…
In 2012, with the appearance of the World Day of Happiness and the Ranking of countries (UN), reality began to change. Some Governments and Organizations started to follow the indications of the Reports.
In 2017, we created a research project in Portugal and tried to understand how the measurement was carried out and how the collected data could be interesting for management and training. The main challenge was to articulate the various scientific areas for the analysis of themes with a high degree of complexity. Giving up was not an option.
We quickly realized that the focus should be on leadership, so that a culture of happiness and well-being could be developed in Organizations. At the same time, we also realized that a new professional figure would be needed, one that would welcome the delegation of competences and invest in various tools: the Happiness Manager. The work base was in the most recent studies (Bellet, De Neve & Ward, 2019), which demonstrated that happy workers have better results, both in productivity and in the application of relevant skills.
In the research methodology, we also deepened the difference between happiness and well-being, because, at the beginning of this century, most researchers did not make much distinction. Therefore, in the “PROJECT@ - A Philosophy for Happiness” model, we use a mixed approach, which starts with a 100-item questionnaire (quantitative approach) and ends with individual consulting sessions (qualitative approach). After collecting information and analyzing its content, we proceed to the elaboration of an intervention plan for the Organization. However, we cannot forget that, from the beginning, the creative power of questioning has been used as a tool for exploring the thoughts and actions of employees. The old pyramid from Maslow (1943) may be being replaced by a new pyramid, from Berger (2014), in which data is gradually transformed (into information and then into knowledge) until we reach wisdom.
Given the diagnose we have found about the application of ESG, we believe that it is essential to invest in P. No P? There is, but it's hidden in the back. People are the treasure that Organizations need to know how to care for and train. It is important to attend to the management of time, values, priorities, communication and compassion. As in high competition sport, if we want to win the Champions League, we need a strong structure, with an open mind and a very intelligent and creative training plan. (Mumford, 2019).
Therefore, if we want success, we need a more human centric design, with a strategic focus on social responsibility and sustainability. Some organizations are already on this path. But look, I haven't mentioned the topic of mental health or technology yet... The agenda for the future of work, which has been under discussion for the last 3 years, challenges new leaders to implement more co-creation with their teams.
If we do nothing, we will have more turnover (and it hasn't been so much because of the salary!). Interestingly, this was the slide that most students took a picture in the MBA classes I taught at ISEG. What had the most impact on leaving the Organization? Toxic culture? The disorganization? The burnout or the lack of recognition?
Jorge Humberto Dias, ISEG MBA Professor
Professor of Ethics, Happiness and Philosophy Applied to Business
IR in the project "Perspectives on Happiness. Contributions for Portugal in the World Happiness Report (ONU)