The Perks of Happiness

November 19, 2019

With more than seven million unfilled jobs across the country, companies are going to have to reach another level beyond providing free food and foosball to attract and retain talented, engaged employees.

What will distinguish the thriving companies from the surviving ones will be the leaders that foster a workplace culture where employees feel a sense of belonging, happiness and trust.

According to a recent study of 1,220 employers by Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, the most profitable companies actively cultivate current workers to fill future openings.

The top 13 percent of companies in the study were five times as likely to develop and promote insiders in a systematic way—and three times as likely to retain top talent—than the lowest-performing companies. They also posted 30 percent higher profit per employee, the study showed.

The Society for Human Resource Management says workers want career counseling, formal mentorship programs and cross-training to develop new skills. However, despite the tight market, many companies don’t offer the kind of career-development training employees want to be engaged in their work.

As an example, WD-40’s CEO Garry Ridge fosters a sense of belonging for employees. To create this, Ridge encourages employees to take a “maniac pledge” promising to take responsibility for getting answers and making decisions. The company’s statement of purpose is “Positive Lasting Memories.” There’s a heavy emphasis on having fun as well. Videos on the company website show employees doing favorite dances or skits. The culture seems to be working. Over the past decade, WD-40’s earnings are up 136 percent. Ridge attributes this success to his team. Gallup agrees, saying 93 percent of WD-40’s employees are engaged. This is more than twice the U.S. average of 34 percent.

“To us, it’s about going to work every day, making a contribution to something bigger than yourself, learning something new, having fun, being safe and going home happy,” Ridge told The Wall Street Journal.

In the book, The Servant, James C. Hunter shares a simple story about the true essence of leadership. The tale unfolds through the story of John Daily, a businessman whose outwardly successful life is spiraling out of control. He fails in his leadership roles as boss, husband, father and coach.

To get his life back on track, he reluctantly attends a week-long leadership retreat at a remote monastery. The monk leading the seminar is a former business executive and Wall Street legend. Taking John under his wing, the monk guides him to a realization that the true foundation of leadership is not power, but authority built upon relationships, love, service and sacrifice. These principles don’t require special talents. They are based on strengthening the bonds of respect, responsibility and caring with the people around you.

These skills can be applied at work or home. The perks of happiness are amazing.

Jeremy Yohe is ALTA's vice president of communications. He can be reached at

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