Low Budgets - 3 March 2009
Australian employees earn twice as much as Puerto Ricans, four times as much as Colombians, six times more than those in El Salvador, and seven times more than Guatemalans. If those living on less than $1 a day are in poverty, 10% of Australians are poverty-stricken as opposed to 28% of Puerto Ricans, 64% of Colombians, 37% of El Salvadorans, and 56% of Guatemalans.
And yet despite Australians having a higher rate of income and a lower level of poverty, we’re not as happy as them. In fact, the countries mentioned earlier – Puerto Rico, Colombia, El Salvador, and Guatemala – all scored higher than us on the happiness scale as verified by the scientific ‘World Values Survey’.
This highlights that economic indicators don’t truly represent the real prosperity of a nation – in the same way that the size of your budget shouldn’t represent the real happiness of your team. To complain that you haven’t got enough money to spend on engagement initiatives is to ignore that engagement is driven by factors which rarely cost much, if anything at all.
One country that is at least on the right track is Bhutan, where the focus is on Gross National Happiness (GNH) more so than other fiscal statistics. GNH is made up of seven measures, each of which can be related back to maximising engagement at work:
Social Wellness: An acknowledgement that relationships and close-knit teams are paramount to happy and productive employees. People need to feel like they belong.
Physical Wellness: Ergonomics, workplace safety, fitness programs, balance, and how employees are treated when they fall ill will all have an effect on your employees’ health.
Mental Wellness: Employees are more highly educated now that at any time in history, which means they get bored easily. They need to be continuously stimulated intellectually.
Workplace Wellness: This one’s about the level of job stability, job enrichment, and workplace complaints that your employees are faced with day-to-day.
Political Wellness: The opportunity for your employees to influence decisions, to have autonomy within their jobs, and to work in a team where conflict is appropriately managed.
Environmental Wellness: The degree to which your company makes a positive impact on the community, as shown by charities that pay less but attract star candidates regardless.
Economic Wellness: Your employees don’t have to be paid more than your competitors, but they do need to be remunerated fairly in relation to their colleagues and the work they do.
All of this means that even if your organisation is the financial equivalent of a third-world country, nothing stops it from being the richest at heart.
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