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Christina Lattimer

People Development Magazine


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Gross National Happiness on the balance sheet?


 Happiness is a tangible outcome!

Because of my commitment to great people management and engagement, I was heartened to discover that the UN conference on happiness and wellbeing which began in New York City on 2nd April came to the conclusion that good performance on GNP (Gross National Product) didn’t automatically mean that GNH (Gross National Happiness) increased at a similar rate.

Yes, really, Gross National Happiness!  For those who always thought soft skills were the soft option, then the introduction of the measurement of Gross National Happiness might mean they have to think again.

The conference reported that whilst economic growth was important, 4 other factors were independent causes of happiness.   These are; community trust; mental and physical health; quality of governance and finally rule of law.

The conference pointed to the premise that you and I know only too well, that “money is not the root of all evil, it is the love of money which is”.  Or in other words, whilst financial wealth is desirable, it because of what it brings to our lives, not the objective.

The conference which is a first of its kind may well be an extremely important landmark in the drive to change the way we do business.

If you haven’t yet heard of “The World Happiness Report” by Jeffrey Sachs et al; upon which the summit referred to in their discussions, then you may want to get yourself a copy of this.  The report makes the link between economic growth and the impact on happiness and wellbeing, which is fast (it seems) becoming a measurable commodity.

The theme of the report centres on the premise that happiness as a by-product of increasing wealth is no longer sustainable.  From a global perspective, in terms of sustainable development, we need to concentrate on: ending poverty, environmental sustainability, social inclusion and good governance.

Most leaders know and understand that financial reward is not usually top of the list to help motivate staff.  The overall message from the conference and report is that the following factors are important to people in the world of work and as a measurement of happiness.

“Working hours, good opportunities for advancement, job security, interesting job, allows to work independently, allows to help other people, and useful to society:  A sense of overall purpose for the job, a degree of autonomy in discharging it, and the competence to do the job – a proper fit between worker and job.  Allied to this people need support and recognition for their efforts.  In addition, more personal factors include mental and physical health, education and family experience”.

As a people manager for many years, I always knew through experience that happy employees were productive employees.  But it is more than that.  As human beings, if you break down any motivation for any action we take, it is usually to help ourselves become happier.  We have an inner drive towards happiness and wellbeing.  That is because happiness and wellbeing are our natural state.

While I think the conference is merely a beginning, and it will remain to be seen whether the subject of happiness is taken seriously or not by world leaders; at least it is a start.  So along with me, watch this space!

Do you believe happiness is important?  What might this focus on happiness mean for leaders, managers and HR professionals in the future?  What are your views?  I’d love to hear from you.

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Christina Lattimer


Read more from Christina Lattimer

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