I write about it, research it, work with companies to fix it, and I talk about it. I also curate success stories beyond my own work and report on them. I give credit where credit is due.
Some companies have got corporate culture, employee engagement, work happiness, whatever you want to call it—nailed. I admire them. Companies like #Zappos, #Next Jump, #Google and #Apple come to mind.
I have had many successes working with teams, large groups and entire divisions, in helping timespan workforces cooperate, communicate and collaborate. And as a result of the many successes I have experienced (and witnessed), I have come up with what I believe to be a sure way to know if your employees are happy…or not.
It’s a simple 4-step process.
We have some pretty big numbers from several different generations, working side by side. More than ever before. Pew Research reports that Millennials just passed Boomers as the largest workforce (56 million in 2017. Boomers tapped out at 66 million way back in 1997), and Millennials will make up more than 75% of the workforce by 2025. Millennials have a bit of a bad rap, but who made them that way?
Boomers are no longer the largest generation in the workforce, but they have been known to be the hardest working. I tend to think that they are now becoming the most paranoid. Why? Because they now have to work longer than they wanted to (in large part due to the 2008 recession), have to take care of their aging parents, and their entitled kids. It’s not that fun unless you’re someone like #Bill Gates, #Oprah, #Bruce Springsteen or #Richard Branson, who don’t even have to work, but do because they want to.
Other Boomers, the ones who have to work, aren’t moving over and making room for the up-and-comers, which pisses the younger generations off (excuse my New Jersey roots terminology). As a result, many Millennials (and let’s not forget Gen Xers, the independent-minded, middle child) are doing things their own way—and leading the way because of it.
You’ve heard the term up or out? It’s traditionally been used when firing someone. But nowadays it’s literal. X’s and Y’s are saying, I’m outta here. Why? Because they’re tired of waiting.
Some start their own companies—which include some big ones (think #Facebook, #Airbnb, #Tesla, #Stripe, #Pinterest, etc.), but they still hire workers from their least favorite generation. The ones they sidestepped and didn’t want to wait on any longer. Why? Because there is a lot of value in the knowledge, accomplishments and work ethic of Boomers. But there are problems too. How would you feel if your kid was your boss?
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about generational happiness at work, researching and working with corporate teams across generations, and I always come back to the question, why can’t we all just get along? And when I say get along, I don’t just mean put on our corporate masks and play nice in the sandbox.
· Actually liking one another
· Collaborating with one another
· Communicating openly with one another
· Being productive with one another
· Valuing one another
Almost every time, after giving a speech, completing an Employee Engagement, Work Happiness or Idea Innovation Workshop, I get pulled aside during a break or afterward. Sometimes I get calls and emails a day later. People feel like they know me because they do. I encourage everyone to bring their authentic self to the experience and through fun, interactive activities, they usually do. Maybe that’s why they open up, I’m not sure. But I always listen.
And what I have discovered through collecting all of these personal confessions, is that they are similar depending on which generation the person is from.
I find this fascinating.
So I sought to find the best answer as to how to get all of these different personalities who grew up in different times and who have different attitudes toward work, to come together, respect and actually want to work with one another regardless of when they were born.
Here is what I learned.
The best way to know if your employees are happy (or not), regardless of generational bias, consists of four things. It’s a simple process that any company can follow in order to affect change in a positive, productive, happy, bottom line way.
1. Understand why your employees approach work in a certain way based on their generational biases
2. Measure employee happiness in real-time
3. Address the results with workshops that encourage participants to bring their authentic self to work. YOU + ME = a Better US.
4. Let the workshop participants create the answers.
I will be giving a Keynote break-out speech about this methodology at an upcoming global healthcare conference. You would think the conference is all about maintaining good health. But in reality, it’s all about happiness. Maybe I’ll see you there.