Happiness as a business strategy

I’ve been writing about the single bottom line in this post (and briefly in last weeks post). The single bottom line says a companies aim (in a sustainable environment) should be to support both our planet while giving our society a richer live (richer in terms of flourishing, not purely material). That’s all good fun and games, but how can companies help in giving people a better life and why should they really care?

The question on why companies should care about society is pretty easy to get (this doesn’t mean it’s easy to implement though). Without society no company. There’s no real need yet for company boards to actively support society, but if there’s something the big strikes in the late 1800’s that led to more rights and better working conditions learned us (or, if you don’t want to go back that far, the ongoing revolutions in Arab), it’s that once the mob starts revolting, there’s no going back.

Which leads us to the second question: How can companies help in giving people a better life? The normal reaction here is pretty obvious. We’ll start making products that improve your life. Just buy our stuff and everything will work out just fine. But is that really all there is? Is a companies output the only thing we should value a company by?

Is a companies output the only thing we should value a company by?

A company is more then an output of products or services. People come to work every day. They sacrifice most of their time in the company. Can’t we make the process towards the output as (if not more) valuable than your product or service? In other words: can happiness be a good business strategy?

Nic Marks, of the New Economics Foundation (Nef), has spent the last 10 years of his life working on this. When we’re talking about ‘well-being economics’, happiness is what it’s really all about: “People who are happier at work are more productive – they are more engaged, more creative, have better concentration”, says Marks. “The difference in productivity between happy and unhappy people at work can range between 10-50%. That’s 10% for non-complex repetitive tasks, or up to 40-50% in service and creative industries.” And that’s an awful lot in terms of business revenue.

The difference in productivity between happy and unhappy people at work can range between 10-50%.

The best example of happiness as a business strategy is the story of Zapos. Is his book ‘Delivering Happiness’, CEO Tony Hsieh explains how happiness turned out to be a winning strategy (I’ll review this book, which is a must-read(!), later on this blog).

Of course, saying you should make your employees happy is pretty easy to say. What’s harder is how to implement it. Empowerment and motivation are driving factors for happiness. This excellent talk embedded below might give you a first insight in how you could make working more enjoyable:


About leyssensjan

Jan Leyssens is a designer and entrepreneur who strongly believes you can’t turn sustainability into a positive story if your main focus is on negative impact. When designing, he is always looking for the overlap between activism and entrepreneurship, technology and community. His main expertise lies in strategic business model development, Circular Economy, the makermovement, and social innovation. With a background in Industrial Design, Jan quickly shifted his focus towards business design and using the design process in strategic management. Jan is the father of two kids and founder & CEO of Regenerative Design, co-founder of Full Circle, ImpactBoost, and the Circular Design map, podcaster, storyteller, and changemaker.

One comment

  1. Pingback: Sustainability and happiness | Keep the game, change the rules

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