Happiness at work

BLI InitiativeToday’s post is by Gaël Brulé and Alexandre Jost of la Fabrique Spinoza

The Spinoza Factory, together with Campagne Première Productions, have organised the Happiness at work days (journées du Bonheur au travail), in Paris from February 12-14. This three-day conference will include round tables, debates, and interventions by business leaders, psychologists, researchers, trade unions and employees.

The event will open with the screening of the 90 minute documentary “Le Bonheur au travail” (Happiness at work) by Martin Meissonnier. This movie explores a new vision of the working environment and shows creative ideas to improve the daily life of employees. The event will include innovative round tables, for instance, one where business leaders meet trade union leaders around the theme of happiness, or another one on how to find happiness at work in media organisations. A range of workshops will look at the work place, for example one around the so-called “fish philosophy” – which aims to introduce gaming in work – on how to renovate the working methods; or one lead by the “bienveilleurs’” (the benevolents), a network of employees committed to keeping an eye on each other’s well-being at work.

Well-being at work is a topic that has increasingly received attention, especially in post-materialistic societies. Since basic needs are largely fulfilled for most people in these societies, the hedonic treadmill has been turned on and expectations have risen. As a consequence, employees are increasingly asking for meaning and purpose at work. Extrinsic motivation alone is no longer sufficient for a growing number of employees. Intrinsic rewards and good working conditions are required, in a sort of upward movement on Maslow’s pyramid (a sociological theory establishing a hierarchy of needs from basic physiological requirements to higher ones, such as sense of self-realisation). As a consequence, companies have to be able to provide conditions for self-growth to be able to keep the best employees, as this will become a basic requirement along with a decent salary or health insurance.

The Spinoza Factory has – among other topics such as education, gender inequality or beyond-GDP indicators – led a study carried out by more than 20 citizens and experts on the different facets of well-being at work. An analysis of indicators as well as a proposal for a new analytical framework were presented in a report delivered in November 2013. This framework, or grid, encompasses 12 dimensions, partly derived from the best practices in well-being indicators such as the OECD Better Life Index, comprising 11 dimensions: housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance.

This grid is dedicated to life in general and is not specific to the working environment. Using the framework but completing and adapting it to the work sphere, the Spinoza Factory has merged some of these indicators to create a composite grid specific to the professional environment. This framework includes 12 dimensions: working conditions, management, work organisation, governance, social capital, compensation and benefits, relationship to private life, nature of the work, relationship to time, ethics and values, training, and job security.

Useful links

The Spinoza Factory has created a wiki dedicated to well-being at work, WikiBET

The OECD mental health and work project

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