I recently read research indicating the highest performing companies have the happiest employees. The employees are not happy due to company success, they are happy due to a belief their work is meaningful and challenging. Conversely, the company's success is amplified a result of employee engagement.
A similar study proposes the key to happiness is social interaction. We are the most social species and are happiest interacting within vibrant social networks. Given that most people work 40 or more hours each week, wouldn't it seem logical that a company would seek to encourage social interactions? Not only within the workforce, but also with customers and supplier partners?
If a highly social workforce is highly effective and happy, the company reaps the benefits. Therefore, a logical company would prioritize and enable social collaboration among the workforce; extending the capability to customers and supplier partners.
While reading this research and writing this post, I have a notion - social collaboration should be in the top " to do" or priority lists for any company. Whether by investing in social collaboration software or more traditional face to face efforts, an organization benefits from social collaboration enablement. Steve Jobs went as far to design the Pixar work spaces to force chance social engagements
While this seems logical - enabling social begets happy workforce leading to higher effectiveness and higher profits, the trick is demonstrating the logic. Demonstration requires measurement and metrics. This reinforces that social collaboration efforts work best when solving a specific business need.
All of this led to the creation of the "social venn". The "happy" employee is affected by 3 items - vitality, education and social. Vitality is a feeling your work matters and your contributions are important. Education is constant learning and personal/professional evolution. Social is frequent personal/professional interactions. The confluence results in the "happy" employee.
Rings appropriately aligned and sized provide the best happiness "sweet spot". Less of any ring reduces the happy intersection. Also, a misaligned or missing ring eliminates this confluence. I imagine many people have experienced diminished, misaligned or lost rings during a career.
In my estimation, "Social" is the key to this venn. With a strong, vibrant social collaboration implementation, each individual gains knowledge enabled by easy access to other thoughts and experiences. Vitality increases through improved line of sight to company objectives. Successful communities exist to achieve specific business functions aligned to an overarching company mission. Community participation and access reinforces the value of involvement.
As more companies embrace social collaboration enablement, it will become a competitive advantage. The best companies will tout their socially enabled culture and the demand for the social culture will grow. I believe we are on the cusp of this future. For those already on this journey, congratulations. Those not yet on this path, the first step starts at the top.