As research paints a clearer picture of what our well-being requires, the way we live now is looking increasingly detrimental. In particular, our LED-lit offices, blue screens, and the corporate rat-race culture can hold back organisations as their employees were not built to thrive in such environments. The workplaces of the future need to recognise our basic biological and psychological needs in order to foster a happy and productive workforce.
“Healthy competition” is often viewed as a way to motivate employees to work harder and achieve more, but in reality, humans have only got this far by working together for a common goal. Every building, every innovation and every meal you eat is only possible because a large number of people worked together. We find meaning and peace of mind when we cooperate, as demonstrated in an extreme experiment, conducted by Dr William Muir. The famous Super Chicken Experiment placed ‘highly productive chickens’ in one coup and ‘average’ chickens in another. Shockingly, the highly productive chickens had literally killed each other off, whereas the average chickens were getting along swimmingly. It’s arguable, then, that in a cut-throat business environment, people will start pushing against each other, rather than pushing towards the unified goals of the business.
Another seemingly innocuous management style is focusing on the bottom-line. A new study from researchers at Baylor University interviewed over 800 supervisors and respective employees and found that if supervisors focused solely on the bottom-line it was damaging to their team. Lead researcher Matthew Quade, Ph.D said this focus “results in relationships that are marked by distrust, dissatisfaction and lack of affection for the supervisor. And ultimately, that leads to employees who are less likely to complete tasks at a high level and less likely to go above and beyond the call of duty.”
The researchers advised adding other goals into the mix, such as employee wellbeing, ethical practices, and personal development.
Motivation and rewards are also tricky to get right. After a certain point, financial rewards will no longer incentivise employees and neither will inflated titles. Instead, valuing their input and ideas, allowing them to contribute to the progression of the business will give them a personal sense of achievement and meaning, which will benefit both them and the business. Further to this, read our previous article, ‘The Corporate Athlete’, discussing how to optimise the physical health of employees, which in turn will optimise their productivity.
Workplace wellbeing expert and founder of Hukso, Ted Mayborn says that if leaders can be clever, learn from our innate needs and implement thoughtful changes to their workplace, they can not only improve the future of their business but the wellbeing of their staff.