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The Chief Happiness Officer Blog





Updated: 2016-12-07T17:32:41Z

 



How time scarcity kills productivity – and 5 ways to avoid it

2016-12-07T12:59:58Z

“Your car is having trouble and will need repairs at a cost of around $1,500. How would you handle that situation?” Scientists from the University of Warwick led by professor Anandi Mani stopped customers at a New Jersey mall and asked them that question. Next the subjects took an IQ test and the results was stunning: … Continue reading How time scarcity kills productivity – and 5 ways to avoid it →“Your car is having trouble and will need repairs at a cost of around $1,500. How would you handle that situation?” Scientists from the University of Warwick led by professor Anandi Mani stopped customers at a New Jersey mall and asked them that question. Next the subjects took an IQ test and the results was stunning: For financially well-off participants, this question did not affect their IQ scores in any way. But people who were struggling financially underperformed by 13 IQ-points simply because their money worries had been brought to their attention. This experiment is described in the excellent book “Scarcity – Why Having Too Little Means So Much” by professor of economics Sendhil Mullainathan and professor of psychology Eldar Shafir, in which the two scientists clearly lay out the negative cognitive effects of scarcity. When we have too little of something that is important to us we become a little dumber, less disciplined and we make poor choices. This helps explain – among many other things – why poor people keep taking out pay-day loans, even when they should know better and even though those incredibly expensive  loans just put them deeper in the hole. And this is not only about lack of money; the book gives plenty of examples of how time scarcity has the same kind of effects, making us dumber and worse at managing what little time we do have effectively. So, knowing this, why is it that so many workplaces mercilessly keep putting their employees under massive time pressure? Why do leaders consistently create time scarcity? This happens when: Employees are routinely expected to increase their productivity year after year with little or no additional support, training or resources. A manager commits to their team doing more work with the same staff. A company is growing and taking on new clients/projects without a commensurate increase in staff and resources. An organization lays off staff but expects the reduced staff to the same amount of work. Schedules are filled to capacity with meetings and tasks before the work week even starts, leaving no time for ad-hoc or unexpected tasks. Some leaders think that these situations create a burning platform that pressures employees to work effectively and creatively towards the company’s goals, but the truth is the opposite: Time scarcity reduces employees’ cognitive resources and makes it much harder for them to do their jobs well. And what’s worse, this can become self-reinforcing. Here’s an example: An organizations reduces headcount leading to increased time pressure and scarcity among those left. This weakens their cognitive capacity and productivity drops, leading to even more busyness and scarcity. Is this something you see happening in your workplace? Here are 5 things we can do about it. 1: Take time pressure off employees Instead of giving employees hard-to-reach productivity goals and filling their work week to the brim (and beyond) we need to give them more realistic goals and leave some slack in their schedules so any ad-hoc task that comes along (as it inevitably will) does not topple the whole load. Most employees actually get more work done when they have productivity goals that are reasonable and within their capacity. Here’s a great example: The IT company Menlo Innovations in Ann Arbor only lets employees work 40 hours a week and then only schedules 32 hours of work per employee per week. That way there is no time scarcity and always time for unexpected tasks. This is described in the excellent book “Joy Inc” by Men[...]



5 ways to create some happiness in the office this Christmas

2016-12-07T17:32:41Z

December can be a cold, dark, busy and stressful month at work. Or we can use the Christmas season to actively create some cheer in the office. Here are 5 great ways to do it. 1: Random acts of Christmas cheer Here’s a great example from a Danish company called Solar, where two department managers Carsten … Continue reading 5 ways to create some happiness in the office this Christmas →December can be a cold, dark, busy and stressful month at work. Or we can use the Christmas season to actively create some cheer in the office. Here are 5 great ways to do it. 1: Random acts of Christmas cheer Here’s a great example from a Danish company called Solar, where two department managers Carsten and Karsten toured the entire office and ris a la mande (a traditional Danish Christmas dessert) for all their employees. Here’s a video of them doing it: src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/w12H3eiu784?rel=0" width="480" height="244" frameborder="0" data-mce-fragment="1"> The holiday season is a great opportunity to make other people happy. What could you do? Hand out candy? Sing carols together? 2: Decorate like crazy A few years ago I was flying out of Copenhagen and at the airport I saw this office that had been decorated with with insane amounts of Christmas decorations. Just looking at it put me in a happier Christmas mood. Why not decorate your workplace in a fun, over-the-top way? You could even sit down together and make your own handcrafted seasonal decorations. 3: Stealthy acts of kindness Many Danish workplaces have a Christmas tradition for pranking each other in december. The way it works is this: each person draws the name of a team member and has to lightly prank that person throughout the month without getting caught. Like maybe gift wrapping their office: We suggest turning that on its head and make the game about doing nice things for the other person without getting caught. Maybe hide some candy in their desk, write them a note with positive feedback or send them a slice of cake anonymously. Or maybe even gift wrapping their desk, if you think it would make that person smile. Then on the last working day before the Christmas break you can get the team together and let them try to guess who’s been nice to them all month. 4: The Christmas Dice Gift Grab Game (only opposite) At many Christmas workplace events, teams play the Dice Grab Game. The rules are simple: Everyone brings a wrapped (cheap) present and places it on the table. People take turn to roll a die and if you roll a 6 you get to take a present from the table. Once all the presents are taken, a 6 let’s you take a present from another player. It can get pretty intense :) So change the game like this:When you roll a 6, you get to take a present from one player and give it to someone else. It changes the dynamics of the game completely and makes it a lot more fun and a lot less competitive. Try this version with your family – it works really well when there are children present too. 5: Give each other Christmas presents Some workplaces give all employees a Christmas present, which is nice, sure, but not really something that tends to make people terribly happy. This is mostly because the gifts are not personal, so they’re not an indication of you contributions or how you’re seen as a person. But we’ve convinced some of your clients to do this differently, and get team member to buy presents for each other. Here’s how it works: At the beginning of december, each employee draws the name of one of their team member and get to buy a present for that person. They will of course be reimbursed by the company and there’s a maximum amount they can spend. They are not allowed to just ask that person what they should buy them. They have to figure out what that person wants for Christmas and what gift would make them happy. Throughout December people buy their gifts, wrap them and out them under the office Christmas tree. At the end of December, the t[...]



5 lessons you can learn from Denmark’s happiest call center

2016-12-07T13:25:27Z

Call centers are notoriously tough workplaces. But City Call Center in Copenhagen is different. Very different. They were recently named one of Denmark’s best workplaces in the Great Place to Work Survey and people love working here. In this interview, their founder and CEO Pouline Mangaard explains how she has created the (nearly) impossible: A … Continue reading 5 lessons you can learn from Denmark’s happiest call center

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Call centers are notoriously tough workplaces.

But City Call Center in Copenhagen is different. Very different. They were recently named one of Denmark’s best workplaces in the Great Place to Work Survey and people love working here.

In this interview, their founder and CEO Pouline Mangaard explains how she has created the (nearly) impossible: A happy call center.

 Her ideas are simple, effective and are relevant in any kind of workplace.



Book review: Payoff by Dan Ariely

2016-12-01T09:11:39Z

Payoff, The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations, is a short book with an important message: “We suck at motivation.” Based on fascinating research from workplaces and psychology labs  all over the world, the book documents how we consistently fail to understand what really motivates ourselves and others and consequently end up  killing motivation off, when we try to strengthen it, much … Continue reading Book review: Payoff by Dan Ariely

(image)

Payoff, The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations, is a short book with an important message: “We suck at motivation.”

Based on fascinating research from workplaces and psychology labs  all over the world, the book documents how we consistently fail to understand what really motivates ourselves and others and consequently end up  killing motivation off, when we try to strengthen it, much of the time.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the workplace, where a blind belief in the power of bonuses, raises, promotions and perks has kept managers doing the wrong things for (or to) their employees for decades.

Dan Ariely, a professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, is the perfect person to convey this message. As a researcher he has conducted fascinating and very elegant experiments to uncover what motivates and demotivates us. He shared two of these in this TED talk:

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In Payoff he uses his own research and that of others to get to the truth of motivation. And while he clearly shows that performance bonuses can actually reduce performance, he also shares the factors that motivate us to do better. These include things like praise, meaningful work and a real connection to the people you work with.

This is a short book (120 pages) but that just counts in its favor, in my opinion. It is a captivating read, incredibly useful and highly entertaining – in fact I laughed our loud several times while reading it.

In short, I hope I have motivated you to read this book :)

Related posts

 




Why workplaces should let employees choose their own manager

2016-11-22T09:37:52Z

If you don’t have a good relationship with your manager, you will never be happy at work. But how can a workplace ensure that every employee has the right manager – someone they trust, like, respect and communicate well with? London-based training company Happy have come up with a radical but simple solution: Let every employee … Continue reading Why workplaces should let employees choose their own manager

class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='474' height='297' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/9C4NQopeXMo?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'>

If you don’t have a good relationship with your manager, you will never be happy at work. But how can a workplace ensure that every employee has the right manager – someone they trust, like, respect and communicate well with?

London-based training company Happy have come up with a radical but simple solution: Let every employee pick their own manager.

That way, anyone who is not happy with their boss can simply pick a new one. Incidentally, bad bosses quickly find themselves without employees, eliminating that particular problem.

In this inspiring speech their founder Henry Stewart shares how they do it along with two other great practices that have made Happy so… happy :)




Celebrate your victories

2016-11-17T12:32:30Z

This is the moment our bank won first place in the Danish Great Place to Work ranking: Det lykkedes! Danmarks bedste arbejdsplads 2016. #dkfinans #GPTW_DK pic.twitter.com/yxgGjdYbDh — MiddelfartSparekasse (@midspar) November 15, 2016 We really admire them for their decades-long commitment to creating a happy workplace. Congratulations!

This is the moment our bank won first place in the Danish Great Place to Work ranking:

We really admire them for their decades-long commitment to creating a happy workplace. Congratulations!




Get my book, Happy Hour is 9 to 5, in Czech

2016-11-15T13:01:04Z

I am very proud to announce that my first book, Happy Hour is 9 to 5, is now available in Czech. At the Happiness at Work Conference in Prague last week I got to sign a lot of them. You can buy the book in Czech right here.

I am very proud to announce that my first book, Happy Hour is 9 to 5, is now available in Czech.

At the Happiness at Work Conference in Prague last week I got to sign a lot of them.

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You can buy the book in Czech right here.




Satisfaction is not happiness

2016-11-15T10:03:45Z

Do you agree?

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Do you agree?




The happiest doctor I’ve ever seen

2016-11-02T10:06:53Z

Giving a child an injection is important – but not likely to make anyone very happy. Unless you do it the way this pediatrician does. Here’s the best part: We showed this video at our most recent Woohoo inc Academy and it turned out that one of the participants had been a patient of this doctor. He’s retired now, … Continue reading The happiest doctor I’ve ever seen

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Giving a child an injection is important – but not likely to make anyone very happy. Unless you do it the way this pediatrician does.

Here’s the best part: We showed this video at our most recent Woohoo inc Academy and it turned out that one of the participants had been a patient of this doctor. He’s retired now, but she told the group how awesome it was to be his patient, how he was always friendly and happy and how she basically had to be kicked out once she grew up and had to start seeing a “big-girl-doctor”.




Woohoo! We have now spoken in over 40 countries

2016-10-31T12:08:17Z

These are the 41 countries we’ve spoken in. Guess a flag :) After our trips to Surinam and Dubai this month, we have now done keynotes and workshops for clients in 41 different countries. That’s a milestone I’m really, really proud of :) Here’s the entire list in alphabetical order: Antigua Bahamas Bulgaria Chile Croatia Curaçao Czech … Continue reading Woohoo! We have now spoken in over 40 countries

(image) These are the 41 countries we’ve spoken in. Guess a flag :)

After our trips to Surinam and Dubai this month, we have now done keynotes and workshops for clients in 41 different countries.

That’s a milestone I’m really, really proud of :)

Here’s the entire list in alphabetical order:

  1. Antigua
  2. Bahamas
  3. Bulgaria
  4. Chile
  5. Croatia
  6. Curaçao
  7. Czech Republic
  8. Denmark
  9. Dominican Republic
  10. Estonia
  11. France
  12. Germany
  13. Greenland
  14. Guatemala
  15. Iceland
  16. India
  17. Ireland
  18. Italy
  19. Israel
  20. Japan
  21. Kuwait
  22. Luxembourg
  23. Netherlands
  24. Norway
  25. Poland
  26. Portugal
  27. Romania
  28. Russia
  29. Serbia
  30. Slovakia
  31. Slovenia
  32. South Africa
  33. Spain
  34. Sri Lanka
  35. Suriname
  36. Sweden
  37. 
Switzerland
  38. Turkey
  39. United Arab Emirates
  40. United Kingdom
  41. USA