Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Jane McGonigal hits the nail on the head with "What makes us happy"

I'm sick at home today, so as I've slept more than I could, I took the opportunity to review some of the videos posted from the SxSW conference. I initially wanted to see the highlights of Mark Zuckerberg's interview. Honestly I agree with TechCrunch, it was not as bad as it was made it to be.

In browsing the video highlights of various speakers, Jane McGonigal made me sit up and take notice.
In the video highlights of her presentation she speaks of the four things that correlated research shows make people happy.
1. Satisfying work to do
2. The experience of being good at something
3. Time spent with people we like
4. The chance to be part of something bigger

Of course she relates this back to games, so my local gaming friends may argue that they are closer to happiness than the rest of us. The slides she used in this presentation are shared on SlideShare.Net, another site I am fast gaining respect for (slide 17 has the points mentioned above).

These four things should also be guides of advice for two groups of people I am quite familiar with, the individual job seeker in his quest for employment bliss and the high-growth company in its quest to attract and retain great people and minimise employee attrition.
Speaking as a fellow "blissful job seeker" I can attest to the above being definite criteria in my past searches, and a judgement of how well adjusted I am to a position I hold. It is not often easy to identify beforehand whether an offer of employment will hold when judged against the above criteria, especially when an employer is unaware that this is what people are really seeking when they look to promote an employment opportunity's merits.

As I was once a member of the recruiting team at a high growth company, I see now how these words of advice could have added to delivering the positive experience to prospective candidate we strove for. Demonstrating the ability to meet these four human requirements for happiness to any candidate are paramount in encouraging them to consider an offer if given.
In retrospect, I realise this was already done to an extent.

If I had the chance to do it again though I would first post these four points on the whiteboard during planning of a recruiting event as a criteria for success. If during the event there were missing demonstrations of how any of the four would be achieved by a candidate's joining the organisation, then the planning was incomplete.

The problem I previously wrote about is that too often job seekers believe that a high salary is the key to happiness, which in turn hurts both them and the employer. On the other hand, employers as well do not see the root problem, and instead believe that higher salaries alone would be the key to a reduction in turnover. In the end, neither finds what they want. The new employee will quickly discover his happiness stunted despite the level of compensation received, and the employer will find himself with the continued high turnover rate as still unhappy employees leave.