The key to happiness is knowing yourself.
This is no less true at work than it is at home. Understanding what makes us tick – which projects motivate us, which co-workers spur us on, which spaces increase focus – is the fundamental starting point to creating a happier, healthier work life. Talent Intelligence is rooted in a deeper level of human understanding, gleaned through employee data, and that is why I believe it will lead to better work for the individual. (Check out the full whitepaper here: Talent Intelligence: Unlocking People Data to Redefine How Humans need to Work).
I’m going to turn to positive psychology to frame my thinking here. Positive psychology arrived on the scene when Martin Seligman deemed traditional psychology ‘not good enough’. Psychology, up until that point, had focused on how to move from misery and dysfunction to ‘normal’ or 0. Seligman wanted to develop a practice that could move individuals who were functioning ‘normally’ to happy, and even exceptional.
To do this, Seligman talks about three different happy lives which have to be cultivated. I’m going to look at each of the three lives in the context of work, and show how talent intelligence will take the worker from 0 to happy...
The Pleasant Life. Experiencing pleasure or positive emotion.
Individuals struggle to experience pleasure or positive emotion because they don’t feel that they deserve happiness. In no field of life is this truer than work. The most enduring stigma attached to work is that it’s something we have to do in order to do the things we want to do.
Focusing on the Pleasant Life at work doesn’t mean adding more pleasures into your work day. Instead, it’s about being more mindful at work and growing our capacity to receive pleasure in the experiences that we already have. Some tangible examples you can do today:
- Slow down. The next time you’re running to a meeting or darting out to grab lunch, slow down and focus on the feeling of stretching your legs. Enjoy that feeling.
- Show gratitude. Express gratitude to a colleague by sending an impromptu email thanking them or praising them for something great they did.
- Celebrate victories. When you achieve something at work (no matter how small) - stop. Even for just a second. Congratulate yourself. Tell yourself ‘well done’ and smile.
Where does talent intelligence fit in to this? Behavioural monitoring technology will feedback on how a person is feeling at work (e.g. their stress levels) by monitoring measures such as heartrate, posture, facial expression and tone of voice. Insights from this technology, like the Riff Learning videoconferencing platform, reveal detailed emotional responses to work, such as levels of concentration, attention and alertness.
We see these insights being used in two ways:
- Proactively. To educate the employee on their emotional state at work, empowering them to make choices to improve their wellbeing (and provide quantifiable proof for sceptical bosses).
- Reactively. Such as intelligent workplaces that respond to employee needs in real time. For example, desks that promote healthier habits by adapting into standing desks on a regular basis or schedules that alternate demanding tasks with energizing breaks.
Both examples will encourage employees to slow down and act more mindfully, bringing about more positive emotion day-to-day.
The Good Life. Being connected to what you’re passionate about.
The sign of a successful Good Life is achieving a state of flow. To accomplish this, you must:
- Know your strength and/ or passions
- Recraft life around them
This is where talent intelligence really comes into its own. Just in the same way that Netflix uses personal data to match you with programmes you’re passionate about, talent intelligence will be used to match employees with work that allows them to play to their strengths. Both in their current work and throughout their career. Salesforce, for example, uses AI to scan annual review documentation and identify people who reference skills or interests they don’t necessarily use in their current role to recommend new internal opportunities.
A passion is something that you’re drawn to, curious about and is a bit of a challenge. With insights from employee data, it’s far easier for organisations to create personalised, reactive learning and development programmes that connect employees to an education that they’re passionate about.
The Meaningful Life. Being part of something, or in service to something, greater than yourself.
Organisations are waking up to the necessity of defining a ‘purpose’, thanks in part to the idea that millennials are more interested in purpose than salary (one of the few great things to come out of this relentless stereotyping, IMHO). That’s why in our latest 21 Jobs of the Future report, we created the ‘Chief Purpose Planner’ role – “As chief purpose planner, you’ll help shape and promote a defined corporate purpose that aligns with clients, customers and employees.”
And how do you measure whether this corporate purpose is aligned with your employees? You guessed it, talent intelligence. Understanding and responding to employee sentiment through social media, interaction and performance data will be key to delivering a corporate culture that imbues the employee with a sense of purpose.
Seligman posits that one of the failings of traditional psychology was that “psychologists and psychiatrists became victimologists; our view of human nature was that if you were in trouble, bricks fell on you. And we forgot that people made choices and decisions. We forgot responsibility.”
This is at the core of why talent intelligence will make you happy. By gaining a deeper level of human insight and understanding, the responsibility will go back into employees’ hands to make the right choices and decisions that suit their individual needs.