Communications Academy

Developing a Happiness Strategy

November 25, 2019
Communications Academy
Developing a Happiness Strategy
Chapters
Communications Academy
Developing a Happiness Strategy
Nov 25, 2019
Staffbase

In this week's episode, we sat down with Emma Bridger, Manging Director of People Lab—an HR consultancy providing products and training to improve employee engagement in the workplace—to discuss happiness in the workplace, how to create an effective policy, the elements of positive psychology that support the theory, and the positive business outcomes to be had. 

Show Notes Transcript

In this week's episode, we sat down with Emma Bridger, Manging Director of People Lab—an HR consultancy providing products and training to improve employee engagement in the workplace—to discuss happiness in the workplace, how to create an effective policy, the elements of positive psychology that support the theory, and the positive business outcomes to be had. 

Speaker 1:
0:02
You're listening to communications Academy, a podcast about improving internal communications in the workplace, brought to you by staff base, the mobile first employee experience platform and this week's episode we're speaking with Emma Bridger, managing director at people at an HR consultancy utilizing positive psychology and the products and trainings to improve employee engagement and happiness. Time and time again, people app is successfully proven that creating great places to work as a direct impact on both business performance and profitability.
Speaker 2:
0:36
Yeah. When people are able to, you know, feel well at work and have positive experiences and have positive emotional experience at work, then that does positively impact a whole number of the best side comes as long as make it a nicer place to work. I've said before, there's benefit to both the company but also the people that work there and their customers for focusing on this.
Speaker 1:
0:59
Before we begin, take a moment to learn about how your company can benefit from an employee app by going to stat based.com clicking on resources and downloading our employee app guide.
Speaker 3:
1:12
Hello and welcome. Today we are talking with Emma Ridger, managing director at people lab. And today we're going to talk about architecting a happiness strategy. How does an organization put together a plan that is specifically relating to making the organization as a whole a happier workplace. Emma, thank you so much for joining.
Speaker 2:
1:38
Oh thanks you. Bye. Two. Lucky to be here.
Speaker 3:
1:41
Oh, we're lucky to have you. And so I guess first and foremost, if you could just help us understand what people lab is and I'd love to learn a little bit more about what you do.
Speaker 2:
1:50
Sure, no problem. So where and leading employee engagement and experience consultancy. But what this actually means is that we work with organizations to help them design and create great experiences. And these experiences are designed to inspire people to be their best. And so ultimately, creativity connect and engage their people. Um, the word engagement comes back there and, and all the work we do is designed to ultimately, um, really positively impact a company's engagement. And we know as well the evidence that engagement is, is big news for organizations that it makes a positive difference to the company itself in terms of, you know, bottom line results, but also the people that work there and ultimately their customers as well. So that in a nutshell is what we at people out do.
Speaker 3:
2:38
Wonderful. So I guess if I'm an internal communicator, how do you begin to develop a strategy around happiness for all the people that you are sharing information and communicating?
Speaker 2:
2:51
Um, can I say something slightly controversial? Now it probably starts with, with not talking about happiness. Um, it's also the dirty word in organizations. Don't get me wrong, they're awesome. Some really innovative companies out there, um, who are completely done with this approach and understand that, you know, that the neuroscientific value of focusing on, on happiness at work. Um, for example, happy socks. And if you guys have heard of happy socks, I actually went to their store in Brooklyn and I was in New York a few, a few a few weeks ago. Um, they're kind of a global brand selling socks as you'd expect under the other kind of retail products. And they have a chief happiness officer. So they're an example of a company who really gets this and gets what these important. Um, for a lot of, a lot of, um, senior teams that I work with, if I talked about creating happiness at work, they, they, they've looked at me.
Speaker 2:
3:40
That's how I was crazy. So I think the, it's useful to start off by talking about wellbeing work. So wellbeing at work, it's really having a moment, um, you know, how many articles and focus on how do we create wellbeing, employee wellbeing. And often when companies think about wellbeing, they go straight to the obvious kind of health and wellbeing. It's almost health rather than just the wellbeing bit. So it's, you know, we'll have a doom and we have healthy eating and we do mindfulness and we do it at yoga. But actually psychologists talk about happiness. They talk about wellbeing, they talk about different types of wellbeing. When they talk about wellbeing, they meet what the lay person would understand as happiness. So they kind of wanted the same thing. Really. So I think it start with making your business case for focusing on wellbeing, which is, you know, a huge body of evidence that says actually, you know, when people are able to um, you know, feel well at work and have positive experiences and have, um, you know, positive emotional experiences that work, then that does positively impact, um, a whole number of, uh, beside comes.
Speaker 2:
4:49
This one is make it a nicer place to work. So I said before, there's benefits to both the company but also the people that work there and their customers for focusing on this stuff. So I think it starts with a business case. So you know, you don't look like your sister if you know, it's not all about kind of, you know, ways it's lags and giving out, you know, tree chocolate, just having fun for sake of fun. There's actually a really robust business case behind this. And then thinking about, well, okay, so what's the role of communication and developing employee wellbeing? And at first you might think, well, you know, what earth is? Communication got stupid. You've got to do with wellbeing. But actually I would argue comms has a vital role to play in our experience at work and, um, the positive emotion at work and ultimately wellbeing.
Speaker 2:
5:36
Um, if you think by, um, you know, wellbeing outside of work and so, you know, when things are feeling good and you're coping with life and you're having a unit, you know, you'll see it in content with the world. So much of that is dying to good communication. So I'm getting on with my family, I'm getting on with my friends where we're communicating well. And you might not necessarily think of it formally in those terms, but when you break it down, it's clear very quickly that communication is really one of the key kind of drivers and leavers of how we feel about the world. So, um, I think that's a really clear role for comms to play. And I think it all starts with making that business case was thinking about. Okay. So how does communication, um, contribute to wellbeing and it terms of the classic internal comm strategies, making sure that people feel connected, they feel part of something, they understand the purpose of the organization, they understand how they connect the purpose of the organization. They've been include base and evolve. They feel that someone has taken the time to make sure that they're up to date and they know what's going on. So all of those great things absolutely will contribute to wellbeing.
Speaker 3:
6:46
This is excellent. So why do you think organizations are so afraid of this idea of trying to make people happier?
Speaker 2:
6:56
Yes. Good question, isn't it? I don't know if I have the office of, I'll share with you my thoughts on it. Um, but I remember when I first started die in the world of engagement and I was in high school myself for 10 years and are there talk to cutter comms and engagement teams myself and I remember still playing to sing. It seems I work with, you know what we, we shouldn't make assumptions about what engages people or what, what makes people happy at work. We should actually go out and talk to them because it's kind of a little bit insulting if someone decides for me that the way they are going to make things better for me at work is by putting a gym in or giving me a free coffee. I want to drink coffee. You know, I might, you know, to me it's like insulting actually.
Speaker 2:
7:37
Why don't you just talk to him about the human being and I'm just asked, man, I'll tell you. I remember having this conversation. It's really obvious to me that was a starting point for this work was to not make assumptions about what we needs to think, to engage people to crate, you know, positive experiences. People, um, I was met with, you know, real resistance to gas paint, you know, the sort of city teams. Like we can't ask them, we call our son because if we do just a match them what they'll tell us now, you know, 80% pay increases and I want us to pull on the roof and they'll want to have you come into work two days a week. And there was this fear that if we went out and that she talked to people and said, you know, what's going to make it better for you working here, that we wouldn't be able to manage the expectations.
Speaker 2:
8:23
Um, so you know, and I kind of got where they're coming from. I understood that, that, that concerns. Um, but we did go out and what I was kind of working in highest the insurance company, so the back to house and forward. We didn't go out and very quickly it was clear that we kind of underestimated or they senior team and underestimated their people. It's actually they completely got the business context. They completely got, you know, the, the context under which they operated and there was no, there was nobody asking for us to import all the roof or a jetty B borrow or anything crazy. Just wanted really basic stuff like faculty for a job well done. Keep me in the date, tell me what's going on, give me a bit of autonomy and let me progress. It was all done what we call intrinsic motivation factors that came out, but it wasn't giving me more money, you know, um, give me a ready shiny gym bag.
Speaker 2:
9:13
That sort of stuff just didn't come out. And so for me, I think about the question, okay, patients are afraid of talking about happiness because they I think are afraid of not being able to manage expectations is number one. And I think number two, they also have a thing in that happiness is kind of means that people aren't really working. If they're happy there, how can they possibly be working if they're happy because surely if, if you know, happiness is not go to work. And I think as a kind of a misconception that's the case. But as I said, when you ask people about their best experiences, you realize that happiness at work absolutely go hand in hand.
Speaker 3:
9:51
It sounds like you've had a lot of quite a bit of experience in and you know, some really successful ways of accomplishing um, organizations trying to make this thing called happiness a part of their, part of their workforce. I'd love to get, do you have any, any in particular innovative examples of where an organization just really knocked it out of the park?
Speaker 2:
10:15
I think [inaudible] approach is often don't really let that negative on surface because they are really obvious as straight forward like going out to your people and asking them, you know, that sounds crazy, but you know there's $1 billion industry around stuff surveys, you know, and every company pretty much have a staff survey and they take that survey approach. So we have a couple of things that they work with. They're kind of take the off the shelf and say, but these are questions we must ask you. But actually for me renovate innovation saying, you know what? We're not going to start with survey. I'm going to stop actually talking to you about human beings because you're in a, you're not robots, you're human beings. We're going to have a conversation with you and that sounds really obvious and basic. This Sophie organizations do that. So we're going to have a conversation with you by how you, about working here and about your best experience and see what we can learn from that.
Speaker 2:
11:08
I'm always gathered that insight. Then we might run a survey because then we'll know exactly what it is that is important to you working here and we can all ask the right questions. So years ago I worked with, um, a YouTube company in the UK and we're helping them with a big culture change and it incorporated, uh, uh, moving offices and they're moving from these really rubbish offices and in, um, in South Wales to a really beautiful, purpose-built let shine in the office. And, um, one of the things they would say is, so we're going to give them a free breakfast. And I said, really, don't do that. I've been there, I've got the tee shirt, I've made the mistake myself. It's not worth it. You will not be thanked for it. I know it's a really nice thing to do or give them a free breakfast.
Speaker 2:
11:50
And, um, despite despite my efforts to persuade otherwise, say they gave the free breakfast and within a month the thing that they have to tap to implement a free breakfast policy because they gave them toast or cereals and what happened was it let the students work in that the students are getting great free cereal. It's likely to take a couple of boxes for breakfast and I'm going to take a couple of buckets of my lunch as well for lunch. Cause then I can just see serious, I mentioned I have to buy lunch. So suddenly have a policy which is saying, you know, you were only an have two pieces of bread and one box of cereals that creates a really bad feeling straight away. And then you've got other people saying, well you know, I don't like tea and toast. What about through all of that question, what about a bagel?
Speaker 2:
12:35
And suddenly what seemed like a really nice idea was actually started to disengage people. And the problem with the cold kind of like amazing, you know, office space that Google hub was, a lot of it is, it's very inevitable. It just becomes what's expected. You know, I get used to it very quickly and it just becomes part of the wallpaper. And after, while I probably don't really appreciate it that much, so anyone has to go work for someone else. I got to actually go on Google. It's brilliant. And you know, I'm exaggerating, I'm sure I'm not asking to Google. I'm spacing does it, it's, it's amazing. And I walk in and go, wow, I'd love to work here. But it's that kind of, um, as fast as a window dressing. I think the really negative ways of improving happiness at work are to go out and talk to your people and find out what's gonna work and not to make assumptions.
Speaker 2:
13:23
Um, it serves as some sort of specific examples. Um, I worked with, uh, a council in London, um, you know, struggling and we each chased coaching for managers. Um, and that was met with kind of a, you know, folded arms and Hey, we can again, what's his latest, you know, ridiculous management fast. You've got to go through when it was just a two day coaching, the trencher conversations course just to help managers have coaching conversations with their people. And that's probably one that I single most powerful interventions that I've been involved with. Cause the difference it made when managers just started talking to their people rather than telling their people, asking their people questions rather than always kind of barking instructions. Butler made a huge difference. That again is an additive to coach. You probably say none. That's what we've, I never said, but I think that those things are things that are actually more negative than this seemingly really tight texter.
Speaker 3:
14:23
Excellent. When I think of happiness, the more I learned about what you're discussing in particular, I think about, okay, what is the most rational, tangible outcome of deploying a happiness strategy? And I guess the, the, the flashing neon sign to me it says it has to be turnover. It seems like this, the clearest, um, you know, problem that this type of strategy can solve is that people will stay, you know, more people. Um, and I, I'm curious if, um, if you have any experience with seeing this, like in organizations that are trying to, you know, reduce the amount of, of churn that happens.
Speaker 2:
15:03
Yeah, absolutely. Um, I've got loads of stories I can share in this, but I might go right back to when I was in high school and, um, I was working at this insurance company and obviously can ask for a constant engagement. And, um, there was a big part of the company was a call center base, really high attrition, um, kind of in 60% attrition, which was huge and costing the company huge amount. And, um, and it was around this time I started raping, uh, by um, poster psychology and taking a strength based approach. And, and it really resonates with me because I thought, you know, me and my team working on engagement and it should be like a really interesting and cool and, and I, you know, purposeful Eric to work on it. Actually, it's just a massive pain in the behind, you know, most of our time is spent, you know, arguing with senior managers about why their reports from the, you know, from the survey provided what right.
Speaker 2:
16:03
Because someone have moved from that into the team and you know, and taking the bottom three things in the survey, trying to fix them when it was clear that they weren't going to make a difference to how people felt because the survey questions were wrong in the first place. Um, and so I started reading about kind of posters, psych come to take the strength based approach and it really resonated and I thought, wouldn't it be interesting to, you know, if you said, I've asked the people in a survey kind of said, Hey, it was just nice to be, what surveys do is say, you know what, let's do what you'd like human beings. And like I said, explain that about process before. Let's have conversations about your best experiences of being here, what that looks like. And we kind of will decide. I went to the, I was looking at the, the, the um, the senior leadership team at the time and I sort of said, look, we've got this idea and then what do you think?
Speaker 2:
16:49
And then they just sort of, they were on visit and they said, you know, you know, it caught, her attrition is so high. Um, w what we think of the mind working. So, you know, silly Bates go for it. And I had a phone call. How did the relationship with the customer service director and I had a phone call after about three months for this, this piece of work being rolled down, it's a lot more to it. We kind of use things like champions and there's a lot of communication involved and a communication with its cost of it. So really talking to people about what this was all about, why you were doing it and you know, there's a whole kind of campaign around it ready, but mostly moved going out. And we were talking to people about how it felt to work there and getting them to share that best experience stories.
Speaker 2:
17:28
And we were doing that through a kind of a network of Tompkins for wanting a better word. And we kind of got them trained up to go and have these conversations and have this phone call from, um, assessment service director from Sydney. It's actually today. It was a good friend. And he said, I need at least say [inaudible] punch it that you do. And I thought, Oh my goodness, well, well, what's going on? And decided that it be stressed and I'm sure I'll see books the time with me. And I went and he said, what, what is it? I need to get close to it because something's going on here and I can't work. Oh, and it is three months, you know, the attrition and Colson become dined quite significantly. Um, it's cross-sale. So, you know, you voted to insurance company and you've got to say hi for sure.
Speaker 2:
18:10
As they try and find car insurance, they go to the roof and he said, you know, I'll, I felt thinking that somebody made a mistake with broadcasting. Hey, which insurance that happened? You know, they're all over the numbers. So I've got all my team have this, Donald is looking over this. They had a, what on earth is going on. They spotted something almost straight away that something was changing in a positive way. They said, just keep doing it, just keep doing it. It's working. At the end of the year, the results would chase the attrition from over 60%, 21% in one year. And we increased costs sales above and above the kind of full cost by about two and a half million. Um, which was amazing. And, and you know, that's quite believe it myself. I was like, wow, this really worked. And we have this sort of team [inaudible] all over it saying what's, what's cause, you know, I'll say, you know, financial services, why are these numbers so different?
Speaker 2:
19:03
What we're expecting? Well the only thing I could find was this, the piece of work that me and my team is doing and it's something we've been using with clients ever since. And time and time again showing that it makes a difference because it, cause people feel like they're brought back to the beginning. They still connected, they feel let's be treated like a human being, that somebody cares enough to talk to them about what matters to them and then have to be a face to face conversation. It could be three X three, not like yourself. It doesn't have to be, you know, sitting in a room with somebody, but someone that actually cares enough to ask them the question, um, and then obviously empower them to, to make changes themselves. So, um, yeah, not to the experience of where it genuinely impacted this kind of approach we're talking about genuinely impacted the bottom line.
Speaker 3:
19:47
I love talking about, uh, internal communicators when they're first starting out and they see endless task to try to make this place that they're working at better. Cause that's it, right? They wouldn't have this position if everything was amazing. No. And so it's like, where do I even begin? How do I show them value value? And so I would love from your perspective, if an internal communicator came up to you and say, where, where do I begin? What would your advice be?
Speaker 2:
20:14
I think in the most into the comms, people tend to kind of have to spread themselves across a number of different disciplines or at least know where they need to bring help is so I think they need to be, they need to be coached a trusted advisor to the kind of semi teams I working with. I think it needs to be copyrighted. They certainly need to be tech savvy. They need to be a psychologist. They need to understand how change happens and how people tick. I think that's really important. Um, and easy to be the plan and [inaudible]. Um, so I think you need that kind of holistic approach. Even if you can't be all of those things, you need to know which bits your strengths and which bits you need to help pull. So you might be a brilliant planner to say, I need someone to kind of help me get the skit.
Speaker 2:
20:56
You know, I'm a psychologist point of view. Hey, all the people I'm communicating to you, what makes them tick? What are they all about? What do they want to know, what you know, what's going to resonate with them? What's going to land with them. Um, but I think most of all, it needs to be really business savvy. So in my experience to get taken seriously with, you know, senior stakeholders, which, which you do in the main to get anything done in internal comms. Cause at some point someone seeing is are they've got to sign it off, we'll give you a commission or give you budget or whatever it might be. Um, I think speaking the business, speaking business language, it's really good. So, you know, kind of saving the technical come speak when you with, you know, agreement with the commerce people and talking the language of the business.
Speaker 2:
21:38
So, you know, say like when I talked about that example, the insurance company of reducing attrition, I kind of didn't go in to say, I did go in with a kind of, I've got a really good comms campaign and we're gonna, you know, we're gonna hold an event, we're going to hold a conference. You know, I went and said, I think I've got an approach which can help jeez attrition in the call centers and save you X amount. This shit kind of give it a go. And they were like, yes. Brilliant. So I think being able to speak the language of the business, it's really critical. It just takes you from that kind of, um, you know, statistical task orientated technical expert to someone that's genuinely strategic at adding value to the business.
Speaker 1:
22:13
And I, I love that advice. That's, that's fantastic. Oh, this has been just a wonderful conversation. Um, Emma, thank you so much for your time today and have a wonderful day and I will look forward to, I'm hearing it when it comes out. You've been listening to communications Academy podcast from staff base. If you like what you're hearing and want to learn more about how an employee app can benefit your company, book a demo and staff based.com. Thanks for listening. See you next time.
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