I read an interesting article in the New York Times recently titled, “Do Happier People Work Harder?” I think the title pretty much sums up what this is all about but the research cited in the article was quite interesting (taken verbatim):
- Americans now feel worse about their jobs — and work environments — than ever before
- Gallup estimates the cost of America’s disengagement crisis at a staggering $300 billion in lost productivity annually
- Inner work life has a profound impact on workers’ creativity, productivity, commitment and collegiality
- Employees are far more likely to have new ideas on days when they feel happier
- Of all the events that engage people at work, the single most important — by far — is simply making progress in meaningful work
- 95 percent of these (surveyed) managers failed to recognize that progress in meaningful work is the primary motivator, well ahead of traditional incentives like raises and bonuses
Now what’s particularly interesting about all of this is that nothing here has anything to do with technology, with workflow, with integration, or with any types of features of products. I keep reading a lot of articles written by my peers in the space who continuously stress the non-human factors which influence collaboration. However what we should instead be looking at is how collaboration can solve some of the problems mentioned above. What if instead of focusing on engagement, productivity, and decreased email we focused simply on making our employees happier. Could the single greatest metric for the success of emergent collaboration be company morale or employee attitudes? Based on the article and the research it looks like that can very well be the case.
I don’t read many posts about using employee attitudes and morale as measures of success. Instead we are all trying to look at hard numbers for how much email has decreased, how much more information is categorized, and how much better our productivity numbers are. We are not treating the cause we are simply treating symptoms. We should shift gears and focus on our employees as people and on how emergent collaboration can help our people feel better about the work that they do and how we can further support “progress in meaningful work.”
I believe that emergent collaboration can help people feel better about the work they do because it will help them understand how the organization as a whole operates and how their contributions influence and affect business decisions. Employees also have the opportunity to be recognized for the work they do not just by managers but by peers and colleagues, which is just as equally important. Employees forming communities of interest and practice can also help spur innovation and spark creativity.
If we decrease the amount of email by 10% or improve productivity by 10% is that a success? What if employees feel like shit in the process and don’t feel fulfilled? We are focusing on the entity as a whole instead of on the parts that actually make up that entity, this is a mistake.