All over the country, all over the world, thousands of employees are filling out myriad surveys, diligently record their responses to scores of questions being put forward by their employers. The purpose? To understand the degree to which employees are satisfied.
Talk about setting the bar low. (“Hey everyone, most of our employees are mostly satisfied with most of us – let the rejoicing begin.”) For companies not faring too well in this regard, perhaps they could lower the standard from satisfaction to tolerance. Or if that’s still too high, perhaps they could shoot for reluctant acceptance.
Yes, I know that there are different levels of satisfaction, and that some of those may even come close to contentment. But the point is, if we’re really going to try and get employees engaged, don’t we need a higher standard? And while we’re at it, it’s time to admit that work and life (as in work/life balance) no longer have any real degree of separation. If work is good, then life is more likely to be good. If work sucks, then everything else suffers from a degree of suckitude (the technical term) as well.
So what if instead of satisfaction, happiness was our standard? Psychologists are now (yes, this very minute, even as you read these words) seeking to understand the effect of happiness, how it manifests, and its variations. There are a number of scales, tests, and theories all geared toward understanding happiness and its relation to the human condition. Of course, by its very nature, this also helps us understand those things that make us miserable (like a 3-hour commute, or worse, finding out that Eminem was in on Sasha Cohen’s joke all along).
Imagine an employment experience with happiness as the standard. Who knows, it could even result in shorter surveys.