Michael C. Bush
3,220,479 views • 4:12

We survey CEOs, police officers, truck drivers, cooks, engineers. If people are working, we've surveyed them. And what we know, in terms of their happiness: workers all want the same things.

[The Way We Work]

There's three billion working people in the world. And about 40 percent of them would say they're happy at work. That means about 1.8 billion, or almost two billion people, are not happy at work. What does that do, both to those people and the organizations that they work in?

Well, let's talk about money. Organizations that have a lot of happy employees have three times the revenue growth, compared to organizations where that's not true. They outperform the stock market by a factor of three. And if you look at employee turnover, it's half that of organizations that have a lot of unhappy employees. The miracle thing is, you don't have to spend more money to make this happen. It's not about ping-pong tables and massages and pet walking. It's not about the perks. It's all about how they're treated by their leaders and by the people that they work with.

So I'd like to share a few ideas that create happy employees. Idea number one: in organizations where employees are happy, what you find is two things are present: trust and respect. Leaders often say, "We trust our employees. We empower our employees." And then when an employee needs a laptop — and this is a true example — 15 people have to approve that laptop. So for the employee, all the words are right, but 15 levels of approval for a $1,500 laptop? You've actually spent more money than the laptop, on the approval. And the employee feels maybe they're really not trusted. So what can an organization do to have a high level of trust? The first organization that comes to mind is Four Seasons. They have magnificent properties all around the world. And their employees are told, "Do whatever you think is right when servicing the customer." To hand that trust to your employees to do whatever they think is right makes the employees feel great. And this is why they're known for delivering some of the best service in the world.

Idea number two: fairness. The thing that erodes trust in an organization faster than anything else is when employees feel that they're being treated unfairly. Employees want to be treated the same, regardless of their rank or their tenure or their age or their experience or their job category, compared to anyone else. When I think about great organizations who get fairness right, the first organization that comes to mind is Salesforce. They found that men and women working in the same job with the same level of proficiency were making different amounts of money. So immediately, they calculated the difference, and they invested three million dollars to try and balance things out.

Idea number three is listening. So, to be a listener who connects with all types of people, we have to unlearn a few things. We've all been taught about active listening and eye contact — an intense stare and a compassionate look. That's not listening. Repeating what the person says — that's not listening. Being humble and always hunting and searching for the best idea possible — that's what listening is. And employees can feel whether you're doing that or not. They want to know, when they talk to you and share an idea, did you consider it when you made a decision? The one thing that everybody appreciates and wants when they're speaking is to know that what they say matters so much you might actually change your mind. Otherwise, what's the point of the conversation?

We all know the things we need to change, the things that we need to do differently. The way you behave, the way you treat others, the way you respond, the way you support, defines the work experience for everyone around you. Changing to be a better person — the world is littered with those failures. But changing because there's something you believe in, some purpose that you have, where you're willing to risk almost everything because it's so important to you — that's the reason to change. If it's not, you should probably find a different place to work.