By | Abhijit Bhaduri |Keynote speaker, Author and Columnist
In 1972, the King of Bhutan proposed that his country would go beyond Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a sign of progress. GDP is the summation of all goods and services produced in a country. The monarch of this tiny Himalayan kingdom proposed what in my opinion should make him a prime candidate for the Nobel Prize for Peace. He chose to measure how happy the Bhutanese people were. Thus was born the concept of “Gross National Happiness.”
Gross National Happiness looks at the quality of life, how much leisure time you have, what’s happening in your community, and how integrated you feel with your culture. So powerful was the idea that even China that has relentlessly pushed for material progress ordered its officials to go out and ‘make people happy‘ in a bid to combat simmering discontent caused by a widening rich-poor divide, choking pollution, soaring inflation and endemic corruption. Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier said, “An official’s performance and political achievements should be evaluated by whether the public are happy or not, dissatisfied or not, but not by how many high-rise buildings and projects he had been involved in.” There is even a World Happiness Report that was commissioned by UN. <read it here>
How about having a Happiness Index in the workplace? I know you will jump up and say that your company measures Employee Satisfaction, Customer Satisfaction and Employee Engagement. I believe happiness is beyond satisfaction and engagement. Satisfaction is like the emotional poverty line that one must cross. Engagement is the next level of emotion that is defined as the “discretionary effort” that the employee will put in as a result of the emotional state he or she is in.
I think measuring Employee Happiness is the next level to be achieved. There are several countries chasing this ideal. France started measuring it three years back. Britain and US are fine tuning their own measures. The OECD members have guidelines being put into place so that they can start the process. As we know even China is doing something about it – albeit in their own way. So there are enough benchmarks for us to make a headway. As The Economist recently pointed out:
“Researchers break down people’s feelings into “affective happiness” (everyday ups and downs) and “evaluative happiness” (a person’s overall assessment of his or her life). They have constructed indicators that look at happiness from different vantage points, using questions such as “How happy were you yesterday?” (that is what Britain’s ONS asks); “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole nowadays?” (from the European Social Survey); and “Taking all things together, would you say you are: very happy, quite happy, not very happy or not at all happy?” (the World Values Survey). The different answers give economists plenty to argue about”
This is a natural state of evolution that one has to follow. Bhutan has identified nine components of happiness: psychological well-being, ecology, health, education, culture, living standards, time use, community vitality and good governance. How about starting a conversation with your employees to see what they would want to measure. That would certainly make them happy.