Measuring Employee Happiness

The black color didn’t make the homecoming dress lose the sense of cute. Do you agree with me?

There is a question that has been puzzling me for a while now (well, at least a few minutes), and that is; “How should we measure real success in the corporate office?”

No, I’m not talking the traditional financial measurements such as profit, sales or share price, just to name a few. I’m referring to the more important measures of whether an organisation has a successful culture that promotes innovation and an employee mood of happiness.

There have been many a study which has tried to chart an individual’s mood, one of the more creative ones being the “Hemline Index”. “This theory suggests that hemlines on women’s dresses rise along with stock prices. In good economies, we get such results as miniskirts (as seen in the 1960s), or in poor economic times, as shown by the 1929 Wall Street Crash, hems can drop almost overnight.”
(Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemline_index#cite_ref-1)

Other such notable indexes also include items such as laxatives and deodorants! “During a recession, laxatives go up, because people are under tremendous stress, and holding themselves back,” said Shapiro, now chief executive of SAGE, a Chicago-based consulting firm. “During a boom, deodorant sales go up, because people are out dancing around.”
(Ref: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/19/business/worldbusiness/19iht-19lewin.17068071.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0)

Now as a corporate employee that understands the protocols of “acceptable behaviour in the workplace”, I would not even consider the application of the “Hemline Index”, the “Deodorant Index”, and I’m not even going near the “Laxative Index”, but there must be some other “acceptable” measures that can be used by the organisation to highlight their success in this area? This conundrum got me thinking!

What about the following potential mood measurements in the office:

1. The Wall Bounce Chart
A line could be painted on all office walls at a constant height position of say 5 feet. Theory (according to “someone”) suggests that when a person is happy, they tend to have a bounce in their walking step. Therefore the logical next step is to measure an employee’s “walk bounce” as they sojourn around the office corridors. The higher the bounce deviation from the 5 feet benchmark reference line, the happier the employees working in that office.

2. The Coloured Attire
According to the “someone” that discovered the walking bounce indicator, another indicator of employee happiness is the colour of their clothes. Those who habitually dress in sombre black or grey clothes (besides being residents of Melbourne) are typified as being quite conservative and less known to whoop it up in the corporate office. Whereas, those adorned with colour, well, they are exhibiting all the classic signs of success and a want to let the world know of their personal satisfaction and excitement.

3. The Organic Tea Bag
When an employee is stressed, the common drink of choice is coffee or tea. However, according again to that “someone”, another important measurement of happiness is the clutter observed around the organic tea bag jar located in the office communal kitchen. Happy employees are reported to drink more organic tea and they like to woft their tea bags around in the air with a gleeful flick prior to placing them in the bin. The result is a mixture of tea bag tags randomly tossed around the kitchen and the strange odour of combined chamomile, lemon, chai and green tea fumes.

I’m sure that you can think of many more mood measurement indexes that would complement the above three ideas.

So why don’t corporate organisations list these important indexes in their annual reports, or in the monthly newsletters? May I suggest that you lobby your GM of HR to get these indexes incorporated into your company’s cultural measures of employee success? Yes, it’s just a thought to make you think that little bit differently!

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