Employee happiness and social engagement


There’s a charming sculpture of a man (John Plimmer) and his dog in a little alleyway in Wellington.

On my daily walk past, there’s almost always someone there taking a photo of a friend with the statue.  I’ve often wondered why the other interesting sculptures in the city don’t attract anywhere near  as much interaction.

The Science Behind the Smile, in the latest Harvard Business Review, seems to provide part of the answer –  we are inherently and deeply social beings.  The author – Harvard Psychology Professor, Daniel Gilbert- summarises the scientific literature on the key to human happiness as being ‘social’.  Whilst we  think that we would be happy if only we were wealthier, more famous, an All Black, or whatever, but in fact we are most  likely to be happy if we have strong bonds with  family and friends. What a relief for those of us who have recently realised we’ll never  make the All Blacks!

Happiness is the main focus of the first 2012  issue of the HBR.  After Gilbert’s interesting article , other writers  reiterate the importance of the social component to many positive  measures such as productivity. Outside work, high levels of social support are more likely to lead to longevity, whilst low social support is as bad for your health as high blood pressure.

A later article describes research showing that employees scoring the highest for providing social support are much more likely to receive a promotion in the next year, report much higher job satisfaction , and are far more likely to be engaged by their jobs.

Interesting isn’t it?  And it kind of makes sense on a practical level, doesn’t it? So John Plimmer, the so-called Father of Wellington continues to provide a social  service for Wellingtonians.

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