Shawn Achor burst onto the scene in May of 2011 when he delivered one of the most compelling and entertaining TED talks of all time. With over 14 million views, the TED talk catapulted Achor's research on happiness to the forefront of the American business psyche.
When I spoke to Shawn, I was particularly intrigued by his work with corporate America. I asked how does he know that his Happiness Advantage training really works?
He shared that it works, firstly because it worked for him. As an ROTC student while at Harvard two things happened that changed his life.
1. He got depressed.
2. Dr. Tal-Ben Shahar became his mentor.
Dr. Tal-Ben Shahar was working on a new field in positive psychology. He was quantifying the answer to happiness. Shawn knew that the findings of Dr. Tal-Ben Shahar had worked to get him out of his depression. Shawn also knew that he "needed to get the research out of the laboratory."
So he set out to go on a journey to thirty-three countries in one year. He wanted to battle test this hypothesis.
I pushed to see why this was such a burgeoning topic in corporations? Was it coming from a cultural shift? Why were big businesses paying such close attention to something as ethereal as happiness?
He shared that "most companies know that if they continued on this path (the old way of doing things) that things would get worse." They also realize that "people are demanding it, they want more -- they want meaning in their work."
This demand coupled with the data on happiness is what is most compelling. Especially in corporate America.
I think most companies think that happiness can't be quantified, and that the training to help their employees will be very expensive. Even if the results are good.
How good are the results?
The numbers are staggering, and can have profound financial implications for American businesses. "AETNA found that of 12,000 employees those who meditate or did yoga for 63 minutes or more per week were $3,000 more productive per employee per year. Reducing healthcare costs by $2,000 a year per employee. Saving the company $5,000 per employee."
He then shared that employees are "30% more likely to get a bonus if they go on a vacation." Indicating that their performance skyrockets, if they're given proper time to recharge and dig deep into their own happiness.
Shawn concluded, "Positive and engaged brains are a companies greatest assets. More than time and even more than productivity, people must be happy."
The lesson for corporate America is that bringing happiness to their organization can have profound impact, and it's not expensive. "Positive Psychology plus big data (proof) makes big companies listen."
Key to the success they're seeing with corporations has to do with the fact that they're "giving license to employees to have a different conversation." Allowing people to "emotionally connect" while in the work place.
If your organization is ready to lead with a happiness advantage, you should reach otu to Shawn's company Goodthink. I believe that It's more costly to ignore the data than to push for real change in your organization.