Interview with Guy Clapperton on his new book ‘The Joy of Work?’
So Guy, can you introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about your background, and ‘The Joy of Work?’?
My name’s Guy Clapperton, I’m a freelance journalist, and a couple of years ago I was approached by a professor, Peter Waugh, well THE professor Peter Waugh in fact, from Sheffield University, who is a professor of psychology, and has published a number of respected academic tomes.
He had an idea that one of his books, about work and happiness, could be turned into a more consumer-friendly book so that ordinary business people rather than the academic community could get something out of it. He wanted a business journalist to come and work with him – I’d been working on the Guardian’s small business section for quite some time, I’ve also done stuff for the Independent’s small business section, so he approached me and we decided to co-write the book ‘The Joy of Work?’.
So Guy, why should employers care about their employees’ happiness?
First of all, because it’s a good idea. A happy workforce, or a motivated workforce is automatically a more profitable workforce for you. If you want someone walking in the door on time, enthused, and determined to do a good job – and if they have any good ideas for work, they’re going to tell you, rather than thinking “how can I make an angle on this, can I send it to the opposition or the competition?”. You want them happy, you want them motivated.
I think a lot of employers make the mistake of assuming employees will be happy by default, or indeed failing to take account of the fact they are not a lump of people. You can’t treat people like they’re just the same. Some people want more levels of control than others, some want more of a stake in the company – it can be a financial stake, or an emotional stake, if you get very possessive and motivated over something you don’t actually own.
There are people who want a little more control over their working destiny, or a little more influence, doesn’t mean they want to run the Bank of England or become a Member of Parliament, but they may just want influence over where they sit, or how their desks are arranged. Little things that will make people feel a bit more valued and a bit more motivated about delivering the goods.
I know one company in particular, which did very well enthusing it’s employees by having a drum club on Fridays, after work. Didn’t cost them very much – they got someone in to bash drums, everyone thought this was wonderful, they went and had a great time, had loads of fun.
I think, if a Fresh Business Thinking viewer wants to increase the happiness of their employees, I think just talking to them.. remember they are individuals, see if there are any ideas coming from the floor or coming from your colleagues that might enthuse them.
Maybe it’s the drum club, maybe it’s a social thing, maybe it’s not social at all, maybe it’s an extra coffee machine. But see if there are extra things you can put in which come from them rather than from you.