As a young man just starting out in business, one thing I couldn’t help but notice was the number of people around me who seemed to think of their jobs as “the daily grind”: just a job to do to pay the bills. So few people seemed to take real pleasure in what they were doing – and yet they were doing it every day of the week, year in and year out.
When I founded Arkadin, I always knew I wanted it to be different. I wanted it to be a company that prioritized workplace happiness. I wanted to see employees working hard, of course, but I also wanted to see them playing hard, because I believe that happy employees give more to the company – in terms of improving the workplace atmosphere and the corporate culture, but also in terms of improving efficiency, engagement, and productivity.
The Work-Laugh Balance
As every Arkadin employee knows, we have four core values: Respect, Working Together, Entrepreneurial Spirit and Enjoyment. It’s that fourth one I want to talk about today.
Much research has been done on the value of enjoying one’s work. One of my favorite sources is Shawn Achor, founder and CEO of Good Think Inc., a company that conducts research about the power of happiness and delivers it to the business world. He is one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between happiness and success.
According to Achor, “The greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy is a positive and engaged workforce”. I agree, for many reasons. Workplace happiness is reflected on the bottom line. Because happy employees work better with each other. They solve problems as a team instead of simply complaining. They’re more creative, think more positively, and are more motivated not only to do well in their jobs but to do well for the sake of the company. And they’re loyal, which reduces employee turnover.
The Ultimate Productivity-Booster
I believe that in order to grow a successful business, a good leader must win the hearts and minds of all employees. At Arkadin, we foster happiness a hundred different ways, from little things like office Happy Hours every Thursday around the world, Halloween costume competitions, fun Christmas contests and holiday celebrations, to big things, like company-wide competitions where this year’s prize was a week’s stay in Rio, or our Values In Action program, which encourages employees to nominate their colleagues who best represent one of our four values; these employees are then celebrated locally, regionally and globally.
Helping our employees find joy and meaning in their work directly benefits our company. By recognizing and rewarding them, and empowering them to use their unique talents, they respond by giving us their innovative ideas, their powerful sales arguments, their productivity-enhancing energy and dedication.
The Harvard Business Review cites research from the past decade that proves happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome, increasing sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%. Other studies have found that happiness leads to success in nearly every facet of life, including work performance, health, longevity, relationships, sociability, creativity and energy.
One of the greatest businessmen of our era, Richard Branson, says that the recipe is really a simple formula: Employee happinessà Business benefits. It works for Branson’s companies. It works for Arkadin. And it can work for your company too.