The ROI of Happiness: Spreading the News across Germany

Dr. Nico Rose - Handelsblatt CFO KongressI am super-happy today. Just came back from back-to-back talks on Positive Psychology / Positive Organizational Scholarship in Frankfurt and Munich. On Tuesday evening in Frankfurt, I spoke to a group of about 50 CFOs at a convention hosted by Handelsblatt, one of Germany´s premier financial news outlets. I was a bit nervous since, a) it was a dinner speech and I am not that experienced in giving speeches without a PowerPoint presentation; and b)  I am obviously not a CFO myself – all participants were much older and more advanced in their careers than I am right now. Nevertheless, people were listening attentively and I received a lot of positive feedback. These were my ten main points to convince the financial leaders that investing in their employees´ happiness will bring them a solid financial return:

  1. Compensation: Happy employees are more intrinsically motivated and therefore need less extrinsic motivation. In turn, a happy workforce helps to keep personnel costs at a reasonable level over time.
  2. Health: Happy employees are sick less often, and if they are, return to work after fewer days. This helps to keep healthcare costs in check.
  3. Retention: Happy employees stay with companies for a longer time and create positive word-of-mouth. This helps to keep save costs concerning the functions of employer branding, recruiting, and training.
  4. Cooperation: Happy employees typically display more positive self-regard and therefore are better at handling conflict and situations that entail negotiation.Dr. Nico Rose - Handelsblatt CFO Forum
  5. Engagement: Happy employees display more organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) and therefore are willing to take on responsibility over and beyond their role descriptions and department boundaries.
  6. Innovation: Happy employees are more creative on average. This may foster innovation processes.
  7. Problem-solving: Additionally, they will find solutions to existing problems faster and more frequently.
  8. Meaning: Happy employees experience more meaning at work – which is one of the strongest drivers of motivation and engagement.
  9. Contagion: Happy employees will make other employees happy (at least: happier) by way of emotional contagion, potentially creating an upward-spiral of emotional well-being in the workplace.
  10. Customer Satisfaction: Happy employees will make your customers happy – via their motivation, exceptional engagement, and emotional contagion as well.

Since I was talking to CFOs, I closed my speech by referring to an article from the Journal of Financial Economics. In a paper titled “Does the stock market fully value intangibles? Employee satisfaction and equity prices”, Wharton´s Alex Edmans was able to show that a fictional stock portfolio build out of the “100 Best Companies to Work For in America’’ (as a proxy for companies whose employees are highly satisfied) has significantly outperformed carefully selected benchmarks on a yearly basis between 1984 and 2009. Ain´t that nice? They day after in Munich in a very stylish old movie theater, I spoke about Positive Psychology in general to 160 people working for the German branch of the Bonnier Group, a Scandinavian publishing house. Hopefully, this gave them tons of ideas for new books on Positive Psychology here in Germany. 🙂 Since this was my wife´s birthday and I couldn´t be home that day until dinner, I asked my audience to sing “Happy Birthday” for her – and they did. Thank you, kind people at Bonnier…

Foto credits: Euroforum / Handelsblatt

For myself I am an optimist. It does not seem to be much use being anything else

Winston Churchill most likely was an alcoholic, and he certainly had to fight bouts of severe depression for most of his life. He called this his Black Dog. Nevertheless, this quote shows that he remained a die-hard optimist. Maybe this was the secret to his incredible success as a military and political leader?

Churchill - Optimist