We live to feel good.
It’s the American way. We get up every day; we are excited about our lives, our jobs and our bank balances.
Or so we say, because a positive attitude is essential to being, or appearing to be, successful.
Yet is that all? And has the pandemic made us wonder if we’re really that excited to work? Even if we are the boss.
In-depth Microsoft monitoring.
I’ve been wondering this for a while, as have the folks at Microsoft.
I know this because Microsoft’s Dawn Klinghoffer and Elizabeth McCune talked about it in the harvard business review.
Klinghoffer is the company’s head of people analytics, a title that makes her feel like the company is shrinking. McCune has an even more troubling title: Director of Employee Listening Systems and Culture Measurement.
Employee listening systems? Shouldn’t that be the head of surveillance?
Essentially, these two executives seek to find out what Microsoft employees feel about their lives at Microsoft. And, indeed, about their real life.
You would think that the priority of researchers is employee engagement.
It is such now word isn’t it? Commitment. Brands crave it; businesses desperately need it. It’s like we’re looking forward to being married to a company but still waiting for the big day wondering who will be there.
Microsoft’s deep researchers, however, are over-committed. They found that this seemed to obscure the truth that some employees weren’t having such a good time.
“For us, it was a reflection of the fact that we hadn’t set the bar high enough for the employee experience yet,” Klinghoffer and McCune said. “And that motivated us to do better at measuring what matters.”
Because if you can’t measure it, does it really matter?
Analyze the prosperous mind.
Their solution was to shorten their employee survey – which should have improved engagement – and try to find out if there is a definition of prosperity.
You may wonder what it means to thrive beyond being Kaiser Permanente’s slogan.
Well, for Microsoft, it’s “to be under pressure and authorized TO DO meaningful work.” (Researchers italics, not mine.)
It’s fascinating because just recently I wrote about the owner of a small restaurant who seems to retain a surprisingly happy staff. She suggested that the best way to make employees happy is to empower them.
Microsoft researchers made a simple discovery about those who were truly unhappy at heart. They said: “Employees who weren’t thriving spoke of silos, bureaucracy and a lack of collaboration.
I pause to ask: Does this sound like Microsoft to you?
Stop collaborating so much.
Klinghoffer and McCune were undeterred in their search for the secret to happiness.
They looked at those who spoke most positively about workplace fulfillment and work-life balance. They achieved a surprising image of a happy Microsoft employee.
They said: “By combining sentiment data with anonymized calendar and email metadata, we found that those who had the best of both worlds had five hours less in their work week, five hours off less collaboration, three more hours of focus and 17 fewer employees in the size of their internal network.”
Five hours less of collaboration? 17 fewer employees in their internal network? Does this suggest that the teamwork mantra doesn’t work so well? Does this indeed suggest that collaboration has become a buzzword for a collective that is more of a bureaucracy than a truly productive organism?
Klinghoffer and McCune say the collaboration isn’t inherently bad. However, they say: “He is It’s important to keep in mind how intense collaboration can impact work-life balance, and leaders and employees need to avoid this intensity becoming 24/7. .”
If you’re a leader, you have a way to stop it. If you are an employee, not so much.
It’s heartening to learn, however, that perhaps the most important part of making an employee happy at work is giving them time to work.