With a U.S. unemployment rate below 5% at the date of this writing, the war for talent has become bloodier than ever. We are currently experiencing a 100% applicant-driven employment market where candidates, rather than employers, dictate the conditions. If you plan to bring in good people to support your business expansion, expect competition to reach higher levels of insanity, as thousands of organizations just in your area are looking for the same great people you’re prospecting.
Knowing that over 90% of job seekers actually have a job and are passively looking for a better opportunity, the key marketing question in your search for good people is: what do you need to do to attract them (not just find them)? Hence, the necessity of developing an effective employer branding strategy.
Could “the pursuit of happiness” be your ultimate employer branding strategy?
Since the pursuit of happiness was declared an unalienable right by the U.S. Constitution in 1776, much has been written and debated on the subject. Can happiness have an impact on performance, productivity, profitability and employee loyalty? In 2012, while most people were struggling through the remnants of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) presented, in an article by Shawn Achor titled “The Value of Happiness,” much scientific evidence that employee well-being does indeed drive higher profits.
As outlined in a whole series of articles, the author demonstrated that when people are happier, they’re healthier and they strive to accomplish more. They work better in teams, and they’re more immune to burnout. Putting employee and customer happiness at the top of your business goals is a guaranteed strategy for success.
If you still have any doubt that happiness at work has a profound impact on productivity and profitability, consider these facts:
Companies with happy employees outperform the competition by 20%.
Happiness in the workplace boosts sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%.
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh wrote the book “Delivering Happiness” to explain how he boomed his company by valuing happiness as the main core value. He highlights the importance of strategies such as helping staff grow (both personally and professionally) and ensuring all employees understand that customer service and happiness are everyone’s responsibility.
Laszlo Bock, Google’s Chief Happiness Officer (CHO), considers that nurturing people in your organization doesn’t require expensive perks or touchy-feely gimmicks — it’s about motivating, engaging and listening. Nurturing passion for what people do is a superior formula for happiness—and above-average performance.
Employees who report being happy at work take 10 times fewer sick days than their unhappy peers. They stay twice as long on their jobs, spend twice as much time at work focused on what they’re paid to do, and believe they’re achieving their potential twice as much.
The businesses listed in Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For enjoyed a raise in stock prices of 14% per year over a seven-year period, compared to 6% for the overall market.
Hiring for happiness: A surefire recipe for the most effective talent acquisition strategy
If you want a profitable and stable expansion, you need to focus your employer branding strategy on two major levels:
Provide a working environment conducive to job satisfaction and, generally, happiness at work.
Hire people who will contribute to the happiness of your employees and customers.
Happy vs. making others happy
I have heard too often that if you hire happy people, they’ll make you happy. This is actually not always true. One can be happy when others are miserable and give absolutely no importance at all to their well-being.
You probably have, at least once, experienced the following: you hired a very enthusiastic employee who tacitly promised to improve the business conditions and/or help you solve major challenges.
Yet, a few months later, you had to terminate that employee after repeatedly trying to get them to (1) support your plans, (2) work well with their teammates, and (3) perform as requested. What went wrong with that enthusiastic employee?
Well, here is a major mistake you want to avoid: do not confuse “being happy” with “willing to make others happy.” Many pre-hire assessment tools measure a “happiness index,” and many recruitment interview techniques search to discover the candidate’s level of enthusiasm. Such selection criteria are important, but they can be extremely misguiding.
Instead, think of a Happiness Contribution Index. What if you could “predict” a candidate’s willingness and ability to contribute to others’ well-being at work and to their organization’s overall success?
Here is the crux of the matter: your best chance of success in personnel selection is to hire for happiness—attract and select only those who are willing and able to contribute (this is the key concept) to their peers’ and organization’s success and happiness. Evaluate all of them primarily on this basic and universal criterion; this is the Happiness Contribution Index.
How do you hire for happiness?
How do you know if an applicant has what it takes to contribute to your organization’s success and happiness? After almost 30 years of trial and error on the subject of personnel selection and over 25,000 applicant evaluations, I’ve come to distill the six major factors, or “drives,” which naturally lead people to be happier and to contribute to success and happiness at work. These drives make up a Happiness Contribution Index:
Purpose drive: Attention and commitment to long-term career development is a fundamental component of happiness, stability and performance. People who are driven by a long-term vision usually demonstrate higher levels of self-motivation, courage, persistence and willingness to contribute to others, as they understand that success is a two-way street.
Talent drive: How determined is the applicant to develop more skills and competencies? No matter how experienced one might be, willingness to learn is a vital criterion of success and happiness on any job. The desire to learn new things is also a great sign of flexibility, ambition, tolerance and humility. The “I know it all” attitude is one of the worst characteristics to deal with.
Performance drive: Awareness of the importance of demonstrating acceptable job performance and the willingness to be accountable for results at work is a vital driver of happiness. The ultimate factor upon which candidates should be evaluated is their ability to meet — or beat — performance expectations. Those who perform well are usually happier — and, obviously, make others happier.
Exchange drive: Is the applicant primarily attracted by the “money” aspect of the job, or do they also present other motivations — such as the satisfaction of contributing to something? Contribution to the success and happiness of others requires a good awareness of, and agreement with, the fact that “one needs to give in order to receive.” A low exchange drive often hides selfishness, a sense of entitlement, and a tendency to job-hop.
Service drive: It’s a proven fact that being service-oriented and doing one’s best to make others happy is a key indicator of good performance, happiness and success on any job. Nobody can argue with the fact that one vital key to competitiveness is an absolute dedication to customers’ satisfaction, individually and as a group.\
Team drive: This last drive is a terrific indicator of willingness and ability to contribute to great team spirit and collective happiness at work. Team drive is the real engine of competitiveness. One’s own happiness cannot be realized without contributing to the happiness of one’s teammates. No matter how competent one may be, it can never compensate for poor team drive.
If you operate your business on the universal principle that everyone has an unconditional right to pursue and achieve happiness — whatever that may mean — and if you believe that one has a better chance of achieving happiness by also contributing to the success and happiness of others, you’ll increase the odds of success by at least 1,000% — that is, if you hire people who think like you.
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