October 22, 2014

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Quantifying Happiness: Leveraging Values to Increase Wellbeing at Work

Identifying and tracking the values that guide our lives provides insights that can make employees happier and more productive at work.

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By John Havens

Do you have a personal mission statement? This may seem like a strange question to ask regarding your values at work, but if you haven’t defined the principles that guide your life you likely won’t be able to identify what work will make you happy.

While there are myriad factors that affect wellbeing in the workplace, one truth appears universal – if you’re able to live each day pursuing work that reflects or builds on your values, you’ll get happier. If you’re blocked from pursuing your values, your happiness will diminish.

In the first installment of the Quantifying Happiness series, we discussed the Quantified Self movement and how people measuring their health and behavior via emerging technology will impact the workplace. By utilizing similar tracking techniques to measure our personal values, we can gain insights about ourselves that can improve our lives when applied at work.

The Tactics of Tracking

Konstantin Augemberg is a statistician with a passion for quantifying his own life. His Measured Me blog and work is an “ongoing personal experiment in self-quantification and self-optimization” with an ultimate goal to “empirically demonstrate that any aspect of my everyday life can be quantified and logged on a regular basis, and that knowledge from rTracker-main-viewthese numbers can be used to help me live better.”

In early 2013, Konstantin tracked how living toward his values improved and affected his happiness for over one month. To do this, he used a mobile app called rTracker to create a series of values based on the Schwartz Value Theory (measuring things like money, accomplishment and health among other factors) and three times a day he registered whether he felt he was living toward each value and how that affected his happiness.

“When I first started the project, I thought money would be really important to me,” noted Augemberg in our interview. “But it wasn’t. I discovered that the value of money fluctuates over time and has no correlation with happiness.”

What he did learn was that creativity and autonomy were more important than money, an insight he leveraged during his next performance review at work.

“I requested more autonomy and decision making, and it worked out very well for me. It gave me more time to provide my own input on decisions and my job satisfaction went up as I was able to align my values with our corporate priorities.”

Return on Value

There are a number of organizations and platforms working in the values space for the enterprise. GROW provides an assessment with over 135 questions geared to help identify actions that can increase employee wellbeing. In a PDF describing how their process works for organizations, they also highlight some research showing how Worker Wellbeing Affects the Bottom Line, including statistics like, “Workers become more productive at work to the tune of about $1000 USD per year,” and “Workers are generally healthier, so sick days are cut in half.”

Humantelligence, “the first and only cloud platform to leverage the power of Workforce Sciences to Drive Actions across an entire organization that deliver fast, Measurable Results” also utilizes values as a key component to help employees flourish at work. After a short intake survey, users see how values like “creativity” or “achievement” can help match them to customized roles at work or to colleagues with synergistic skill sets that can increase their productivity and wellbeing.

HappieS is, “An organization committedVolunteerMatch-fblogo to create a happier world by guiding vulnerable communities, families, companies and leaders to take their happiness, productivity and success to the next level.” Headquartered in Bogota, HappieS recently worked with HUB Bogota, a shared workspace for entrepreneurs, to increase employee wellbeing by encouraging values like having a meaningful life’s purpose, exercising character strengths in and out of work and having a grateful mindset.

VolunteerMatch was really founded more than anything as a way to allow individuals to put their values into action,” says Robert Rosenthal, VP of Communications and Marketing. “The Web’s Largest Volunteer Engagement Network,” involves more than 96,000 participating nonprofits, 150 network partners and 12 million visitors per year. The organization makes it simple to find causes for people to connect with in their communities in multiple locations throughout the U.S. Rosenthal notes that this marketplace benefits the nonprofits they serve, “but it also gives individuals access to more choices to put their own values into action, and act on their passions.” VolunteerMatch also provides Employee Solutions, and Rosenthal points out that 40 percent of its traffic comes from corporations. “Volunteering is attractive to companies because they can see employees put their values into action – volunteering can’t be faked.”

From Measure to Meaning

Tsh Oxenreider, founder of The Art of Simple blog, wrote a great post a few years ago on how to Create a Family Purpose Statement. It provides a highly pragmatic yet personal way to evaluate questions like, “What are practical ways we can serve each othersgreen-leaf-graph outside our family?”

I worked through the 20 questions with my wife over the Thanksgiving break and we’re on our way to creating a statement that helps us define what actions we want to prioritize in our lives based on our values. I’m also on day 18 of doing Konstantin Augemberg’s values tracking experiment and have started to see patterns in my life that are helping me better allocate my time to increase my happiness and sense of wellbeing.

As Konstantin notes, “The point of tracking is to help you flush out your true values to see how they affect your happiness.” Yes, you need to take the time to track but the good news: evidence shows if you value the wellbeing of yourself or your employees, it will be time well spent.

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by CSRwire contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of CSRwire.

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