Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bagaimana Membuat Brand Activation yang Sukses?

Menurut Lauren Durant, Director Isilumko Activate – perusahaan marketing, branding, desain, dan konsep kreatif – brand activation dapat menjadi solusi agar brand memiliki diferensiasi dari kompetitornya di tengah pasar yang semakin sesak.

Strategi untuk membuat brand activation yang sukses

Selain sebagai wadah untuk menciptakan komunikasi dua arah antara brand dan konsumen, brand activation juga berfungsi untuk membangun ketertarikan konsumen, misalnya saja lewat product experience dengan cara memberikan kesempatan bagi konsumen untuk mencoba produk atau jasa secara personal. Experience biasanya diciptakan melalui edukasi sehingga konsumen mau mengapresiasi brand. Dalam meenciptakan experience itu, brand tentunya juga harus mampu membangun hubungan emotional dengan mereka. Semakin kuat hubungan emosional, maka interaksi pun akan lebih berkualitas, misalnya saja konsumen akan lebih sering lagi membeli produk.

Berbeda dengan kesuksesan traditional marketing yang dapat diukur dari jumlah impresi target audiens, brand activation dapat dikatakan sukses jika mampu menciptakan engagement dengan konsumen, engagement yang membuat konsumen merasakan value brand, ketimbang hanya menjadi target brand.
Mungkin hanya 1.000 orang yang merasakan sendiri peluncuran produk baru misalnya di sebuah pusat perbelanjaan. Namun jika event di-share di sosial media, misalnya saja Instagram atau YouTube, dampaknya bisa menjadi lebih besar. Manusia adalah makhluk sosial dan memiliki kebutuhan untuk berkomunikasi dan berinteraksi. Walaupun event yang digelar suatu brand adalah event sederhana, brand activation adalah pilihan untuk membuat dampak yang lebih luas.
Kualitas dampak yang dihasilkan oleh suatu brand lebih penting daripada reach suatu pesan. Memaksimalkan reach akan tidak berarti jika isi pesan tidak didengar dan didalami oleh target audiens. Jika audiens menganggap message sebagai gangguan, kemungkinan besar mereka akan mengabaikannya.
Brand activation memang mampu memberikan hasil yang bagus, tetapi perlu diingat bahwa kampanye harus relevan dengan strategi brand. Untuk menghasilkan aktivasi merek yang sukses, dibutuhkan perpaduan dari berbagai elemen. Jika kampanye tidak menarik, produk atau jasa bukan yang dibutuhkan oleh masyarakat, kampanye tidak dipromosikan dan lain sebagainya, maka bisa langsung dikatakan bahwa aktivasi tidak akan mencapai tujuan.
Dikatakan Lauren Durant, beberapa elemen strategis yang wajib diingat brand dalam membuat suatu brand activation, yaitu: target komunikasi, tentukan sebelumnya berapa banyak engagement/komunikasi dengan audiens yang harus diciptakan; distribusi materi/hadiah, tentukan berapa banyak produk yang akan dikeluarkan selama kampanye; target penjualan; aktivitas call-to-action; target konversi; dan seberapa besar aktivasi ini mempengaruhi persepsi atau behaviour konsumen.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

14 Ways Positive People Separate Themselves From Negative Energy

Negative energy can be found almost everywhere. There are people complaining about life constantly, practicing bad habits and bringing you down. The emotions they spread influence your thoughts and actions in a bad way so avoiding the sources of negative energy is obligatory if you want to be more successful.
Everyone can be easily affected by negative emotions and the only exceptions are people who learned how to deal with it. These 14 Ways will show you how positive people handle negativity so you can apply it to your life.

1. They create happiness from within.

Happy people don’t base their happiness on external stimulations. They realize once the stimulant is gone, their mood would be ruined. Instead, they look for internal sources of positive energy and practice mindfulness.

2. They practice positive thinking.

Thoughts influence your actions, so, if you think negatively, there’s no bright future ahead of you. Positive people don’t believe in the excuses their minds come up with. Through positive affirmations and finding the good side of any problem, they make sure they are mentally set up for success.

3. They look for reasons to believe in themselves.

“Never let the negativity get to you. There are gonna be a lot of people you have to plow through, but as long you believe in yourself, that’s all that matters.” – Becky G.
There are endless reasons to believe in yourself even if you feel completely helpless and worthless. These negative thoughts are temporary obstacles and most of the time, they are made-up.

4. They cut off negative people.

Your surroundings have a tremendous impact on yourself. If you spend time with positive people, you are more likely to be happy and content. On the other hand, if you are too close to naysayers and complainers, you will have a hard time removing the negativity from your life.

5. They train regularly.

Physical training is associated with releasing endorphins which are responsible for “feeling good.” Treating your body the right way pays off and results in reduced stress and boosted happiness. On the other hand, if you ignore your body’s needs, it will let you experience the negative consequences soon enough.

6. They spend time in the nature.

Being in the nature clears your mind and relaxes your body. Positive people dedicate a part of their day to get outside and admire the beauty of our planet. It’s a great way to load your batteries!

7. They avoid impulsive spending.

Nowadays, extra deals and sales fight for your attention, so it’s easy to end up lost in the buying mode. Whereas excessive buying may make you feel better instantly, from a long-term perspective, it’s an unhealthy habit positive people avoid at all costs. They would rather invest in experiences to discover the world and create some great memories.

8. They accept failure.

Positive people embrace failure as they realize it’s the only way to learn and grow. Whenever they collapse, they work hard to get at the top again instead of giving up. Even though a failure brings negative emotions, they comprehend these are brief and will fade away quickly. To accelerate the process, they keep thinking positively.

9. They take full responsibility.

Positive people always give themselves the responsibility for what happens in their lives. Whether it’s a success or failure, it’s always an effect of their actions and thoughts. A positive person will never blame external factors and focus on things within the reach that could be improved.
By doing that, they pursue being better and experience constant progress instead of getting frustrated by things out of their control.

10. They learn to control their thoughts.

A mind can be easily brought out of control by sudden negative thoughts. Positive individuals know if they don’t control their thoughts, they will lose control over their actions and behaviors. For this reason, they practice mind control, for example through meditation.

11. They devote some time to relax.

Instead of trying to be perfect, positive people realize sometimes you need to slow down, make your goals and ambitions secondary and simply loosen up. By doing this, they avoid burning out which would cause unnecessary negative energy.
In a nutshell, they take a step back to move further the next day.

12. They believe there’s always a solution.

Sometimes, life hits you hopelessly hard. At these moments, you tend to doubt your abilities to solve the current problem. The fact is, there’s always a way to overcome an obstacle and positive people keep that in mind. Even if they reach rock bottom, they believe it happens so they can get to the top even stronger.

13. They know when to say no.

The value of saying ‘no’ and ‘yes’ at the right moment is priceless. Opposed to misconceptions, these two words have an immense power and how you use them dictates what happens in your life.
Positive people focus on their priorities instead pleasing others. That’s why they know there are many things you don’t need to say yes to.

14. They don’t look for anyone’s approval.

If you let others’ opinions paralyze you, you will have a hard time feeling good and happy. Many people are afraid of not getting validation and being criticized. Positive individuals think and act quite the opposite.
They use disapproval as an indicator of being authentic and true. The fact is, there are countless things you don’t need anyone’s approval for though you think you do.

Featured photo credit: web4camguy via

Saturday, June 13, 2015

3 ways Steve Jobs made meetings productive

By Drake Baer

File photo of Apple CEO Steve Jobs during his unveiling of the iPhone 4, at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco

Steve Jobs made sure that Apple wasn’t one of those companies.
Here are three ways the iconic CEO made meetings super productive.
1. He kept meetings as small as possible.
In his book “Insanely Simple,” longtime Jobs collaborator Ken Segall detailed what it was like to work with him.
In one story, Jobs was about to start a weekly meeting with Apple’s ad agency.
Then Jobs spotted someone new.
“He stopped cold,” Segall writes. “His eyes locked on to the one thing in the room that didn’t look right. Pointing to Lorrie, he said, ‘Who are you?'”
Calmly, she explained that she was asked to the meeting because she was a part of related marketing projects.
Jobs heard her, and then politely told her to get out.
“I don’t think we need you in this meeting, Lorrie. Thanks,” he said.
He was similarly ruthless with himself. When Barack Obama asked him to join a small gathering of tech moguls, Jobs declined — the President invited too many people for his taste.
2. He made sure someone was responsible for each item on the agenda. 
In a 2011 feature investigating Apple’s culture, Fortune reporter Adam Lashinsky detailed a few of the formal processes that Jobs used, which led Apple to become the world’s most valuable company.
At the core of Job’s mentality was the “accountability mindset” — meaning that processes were put in place so that everybody knew who was responsible for what.
As Lachinsky described:
Internal Applespeak even has a name for it, the “DRI,” or directly responsible individual. Often the DRI’s name will appear on an agenda for a meeting, so everybody knows who is responsible. “Any effective meeting at Apple will have an action list,” says a former employee. “Next to each action item will be the DRI.” A common phrase heard around Apple when someone is trying to learn the right contact on a project: “Who’s the DRI on that?”
They’re hugely helpful in a startup situation.
“In a fast-growing company with tons of activity, important things get left on the table not because people are irresponsible but just because they’re really busy,” she wrote on Quora. “When you feel like something is your baby, then you really, really care about how it’s doing.”
3. He wouldn’t let people hide behind PowerPoint.
Walter Isaacson, author of the “Steve Jobs” biography, said, “Jobs hated formal presentations, but he loved freewheeling face-to-face meetings.”
Every Wednesday afternoon, he had an agenda-less meeting with his marketing and advertising team.
Slideshows were banned because Jobs wanted his team to debate passionately and think critically, all without leaning on technology.
“I hate the way people use slide presentations instead of thinking,” Jobs told Isaacson. “People would confront a problem by creating a presentation. I wanted them to engage, to hash things out at the table, rather than show a bunch of slides. People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.”
This article is published in collaboration with Business Insider UK. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.
To keep up with Forum:Agenda subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Author: Drake Baer reports on strategy, leadership, and organizational psychology at Business Insider.
Image: Apple CEO Steve Jobs gestures during his unveiling of the iPhone 4 at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, in this June 7, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith.

Friday, June 12, 2015

HEALTH FACILITIES -- Employees value company health facilities

Employees value company health facilities

JAKARTA. While other office workers are trapped in traffic after working hours, Antonius Pandu, a 31-year-old assistant of a brand manager in consumer goods giant PT Unilever Indonesia, opts to enjoy a salsa dance in his office.
“I have been practicing salsa for four years,” he said while moving his hips and feet, following the rhythm of the Latin music.
Antonius said he was thrilled when he found out that his current employer provided free salsa dance classes in his office building, saying that he could finally continue a hobby he started in college.
“Practicing salsa not only refreshes my body, but also my mind,” he said.
Antonius said that besides practicing salsa, he also goes to a gym once a week. “It becomes easy to exercise as all the facilities are provided just above my office and they are for free,” he said.
Besides a gymnasium that offers various classes, like in salsa, zumba and body pump, Unilever also has various other health facilities, including sports massages, funds for sports, hobby or art clubs, vaccines for the employees and family members and a nursing room.
Human resource departments in some companies believe that providing health facilities and creating policies that encourage healthy lifestyles will not only benefit the office workers who are prone to stress and illness, but also the companies.
Desmarita Murni, communications director at the online petition site,, said her company decided two months ago to cater healthy foods that offered less salt and oil for the employees, as it realized that bad eating habits made them prone to sickness.
“We realized that we often eat late when we are busy and we usually ordered unhealthy food like gorengan [fried snacks],” she said.
Desmarita said also gives five weeks of annual leave to make sure that the employees get enough rest and vacation.
Unilever corporate communication head Maria Dewantini Dwianto said her company management considers human resources as an important asset.
“Convalescing people need more time and money, so it is better to prevent the disease,” she said.
Some other companies have unique ways to pay attention to employees who are attached to their computers. (Corry Elyda)
Editor: Barratut Taqiyyah

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Schumpeter: A palette of plans

Choosing a strategy is a lot more complex for companies than it used to be

BUSINESSES are bombarded with advice on strategy. Many gurus urge them to discover a “blue ocean” where they can swim without competition. Others argue that this is a pipe dream—a blue ocean will immediately be turned red by competitors—and advise them to focus on flexibility. Some pundits preach the first-mover advantage; others urge firms to be fast followers. Bosses end up confused and cynical, with some lurching from one strategy to another and others concluding that they never want to hear the word “strategy” again.
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) made its name with clever ideas about strategy, most notably the growth-share matrix, which helps firms divide their lines of business into stars, cash-cows, dogs and question-marks. Now it has brought some clarity to the current confusion with a new book, “Your Strategy Needs a Strategy”, by Martin Reeves, Knut Haanaes and Janmejaya Sinha. The BCG trio argue that business is so fast-moving and diverse these days that a single, overarching strategy will no longer do. The competitive landscape is constantly changing in many industries; businesses speed through the life-cycle from stars to dogs. So, they say, wise bosses should choose from a “strategic palette” in much the same way that artists choose from a palette of colours. The book identifies a handful of primary strategies, that bosses should be ready to switch between and, at times, blend.
It starts with the “classical” strategy that business schools have taught since the 1950s: find a good niche, develop a plan to dominate it, then muscle up. Mars, a confectionery giant, maintains its dominance through close relationships with suppliers, relentless cost control and timeless products. The Milky Way bar was invented in 1923 and the Mars Bar in 1932. Consumer-goods makers such as Procter & Gamble, retailers such as Walmart and logistics firms such as UPS all use variations of this strategy. But stable markets are getting harder to find. So companies are making more use of four other types of strategy.
One is the adaptive, evolutionary approach. This is particularly popular among technology firms. Tata Consultancy Services talks about its 4E model—explore, enable, evangelise and exploit—which in English means trying lots of small things and then backing whichever ones work. But it can also be applied in older industries. Inditex’s global success as a fashion retailer is based on first producing its clothes in small batches, then scaling up production rapidly if they sell well.
Another is the visionary, blue-ocean approach: generate a compelling new idea—a whole new market, with you at its centre. This was Steve Jobs’s approach with Apple’s iPhone and iPad, but there are plenty of smaller examples. Anna Wojcicki, a founder of 23andMe, came up with a new health product—a kit that allows you to analyse your susceptibility to various diseases—and then focused on selling her new idea to both investors and the general public. “The average individual just didn’t know why they should get their genome,” she said. “So educating the individual and getting them excited about it was our first challenge.”
A third is the shaping approach: working with partners to create new markets. The partners could be private-sector ones. Apple and Google have worked with many small app developers to create an ecosystem of mobile services. Or they could be public-sector ones. Novo Nordisk, a Danish drugmaker, has captured 60% of the Chinese market for insulin by working closely with Chinese doctors and health authorities to raise awareness of diabetes, which had previously been under-diagnosed.
A fourth strategy—for companies on the brink—is renewal: refocus the business decisively, preserve capital, free resources to apply to areas of growth. After its government bail-out, AIG, a giant insurance conglomerate, got out of many businesses and took drastic action to stop rivalry and overlap between the rest.
Overlying all these options is the strategy of being “ambidextrous”, that is, being able to skip nimbly from one strategy to another, or to pursue several of them simultaneously. Some companies, such as PepsiCo, have two separate groups of people in each division: one whose strategy is to maximise the efficiency of the business in its current form, and another that looks for ways to disrupt it (before someone else does).
Smudging the canvas
The BCG trio’s taxonomy of strategies at least brings a bit of clarity to some of management theory’s cloudier waters. But they have little to say on how managers should apply their palette of strategies to the canvas without making a Jackson Pollock of it. The classical, niche-domination strategy often entails minimising variation to squeeze out costs; the adaptive strategy involves maximising variation so as to find out which variant works best. The shaping strategy is all about sharing between companies and others; the classical strategy is typically all about being closed and defensive. How to solve such contradictions?
Besides offering little advice on how best to pivot from one strategy to another, the authors also avoid discussing how companies can pursue a multi-strategy approach without creating battle lines between their various chiefs. It is simply assumed that the executives running the “business as usual” strategy will get along happily with those pursuing the “disrupt everything” approach. It is hard enough for businesses to switch wholesale to a new strategy without encountering resistance from managers who have tied their reputations to the old one; maintaining different teams working simultaneously on opposing strategies is a recipe for internecine warfare, and for wasting resources as the firm is pulled in opposing directions. The BCG trio are no doubt right that companies will need to become more ambidextrous if they are to survive in turbulent times. But what bosses need now is a book on how to prevent such organisations from becoming self-contradictory and conflict-ridden ones.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memetik “Bara Api”
Oleh Jazak YA

SHUTTERSTOCK - Dengar ya, pokoknya saya ingin keluhan saya ditangani saat ini juga, atau Anda dan saya sama-sama tidak pulang ke rumah!
Wah, jangan begitu pak, saya kan hanya petugas perusahaan saya tidak memiliki kuasa untuk menangani komplain bapak?
Saya tidak mau tahu, itu urusan kamu, sekarang saya ingin kamu selesaikan komplain ini!
Nah, seperti itulah pak Jay, kira-kira contoh nyata keluhan yang bersifat emosional dari pelanggan kami yang saya rasakan sangat sulit ditangani dan sungguh mengancam saya waktu itu.
Ya di atas adalah diskusi saya dengan salah satu sahabat kami peserta training Handling Complaint Skill. Dan saya sangat yakin pengalaman serupa juga pernah Anda hadapi, minimal 1 kali dalam seumur hidup.
Perlu saya tekankan bahwa yang dimaksud pelanggan disini bukan hanya mereka yang membeli produk dan jasa yang Anda jual atau pelanggan eksternal. Tetapi juga pelanggan internal kita, yaitu: atasan, rekan kerja, dan juga anggota tim Anda.
Keluhan atau komplain yang bersifat emosional saya analogikan sebagai “Bara Api” yang menyala. Dia begitu panas dan siap membakar siapapun yang gagal mengendalikannya. Artinya jika tidak bisa dikelola dengan cermat, jelas “bara api” itu sukses menghancurkan Anda.
Lalu apa yang dimaksud dengan memetik “Bara Api”? Dan mengapa pula kita harus memetiknya?
Memetik “Bara Api” adalah teknik bagaimana mengatasi keluhan pelanggan Anda yang bersifat emosional, dan mengubah keluhan itu menjadi peluang atau bahan bakar untuk pertumbuhan Anda.
Dengan kata lain, memetik “Bara Api” lalu menggunakan “Bara Api” itu sebagai bahan bakar atau peluang  untuk pertumbuhan penjualan Anda juga Karir Anda. Hal ini penting karena teknik yang akan saya sampaikan begitu mudah dan terbukti mujarab.
Teknik tersebut kami kembangkan dengan Formula Take HEAT.Terjemahan sederhana Take HEAT adalah mengambil Panas atau mengambil Bara Api, dalam hal ini adalah mengambil amarah pelanggan anda yang sedang murka.
Formula Take HEAT, juga merupakan singkatan dari teknik bagaimana mengatasi keluhan pelanggan yang bersifat emosional dan mengubahnya menjadi peluang.
Ok, kita mulai saja mengupas Formula Take HEAT:
H berarti Hearing to Understand atau mendengar untuk memahami. Ini adalah langkah pertama yang harus kita lakukan saat mengatasi keluhan pelanggan. Ingat!  Kebutuhan orang yang sedang marah atau emosi tidak stabil adalah didengar serta disimak apa yang disampaikannya, bukan dibantah.
Meskipun terkadang kalimat yang disampaikan terasa tidak mengenakkan , terkadang kasar bahkan mengancam, maka teruslah bersabar dengan menyimaknya. Langkah pertama ini secara bertahap akan mampu mengurangi dosis amarah pelanggan Anda.
E berarti Empathy bermakna empati. Langkah kedua ini dapat ditafsirkan sebagai menempatkan posisi kita persis seperti posisi pelanggan yang sedang terbakar emosinya.
Empati sangat bermanfaat untuk segera memulihkan logika pelanggan yang sedang terganggu oleh api emosi, sehingga memudahkan kita melanjutkan ke langkah berikutnya.
Empati disaat yang sama juga sanggup membuat Bara Api amarah tidak semakin memanas dan membesar dengan kata lain memudahkan anda untuk mengauasai serta memetik Bara Api amarahnya.
A berarti Apologize, yaitu langkah ketiga yang berarti meminta maaf kepada pelanggan yang sedang tidak enak hati akibat emosi. Dengan meminta maaf meskipun belum tentu Anda yang bersalah, maka buktikan anda sudah sukses memetik Bara Api itu atau mengendalikan amarah pelanggan.
Apologize bermanfaat untuk memindahkan Bara Api di kepala dan hati pelanggan ke tangan Anda. Kini saatnya kita manfaatkan Bara Api itu untuk bahan bakar pertumbuhan karir dan bisnis Anda dengan menuju kepada tahap keempat.
T berarti Take Action atau mengambil tindakan. Langkah keempat ini harus disesuaikan dengan jenis atau bentuk keluhan yang disampaikan pelanggan. Artinya ada beberapa kondisi Anda membutuhkan bantuan dari atasan yang memiliki otoritas lebih tinggi untuk mengambil tindakan dalam rangka menyelesaikan keluhan mereka.
Ada kalanya dalam langkah keempat ini anda membutuhkan kolaborasi dari bagian atau departemen lain, bahkan bisa saja membutuhkan pertolongan dari rekan kerja sejawat.
Oleh sebab itu sangat saya sarankan bahwa pemahaman Memetik “Bara Api” tidak hanya untuk mereka para Front Liner Customer Service, namun sangat wajib hukumnya bagi seluruh penghuni perusahaan yang berorientasi kepada pelanggan atau customer centric.
Maka dengan Formula Take HEAT (Hearing to Understand, Empathy, Apologize, Take Action), sangat dimungkinkan bagi anda untuk Memetik setiap “Bara Api”, sehingga Anda sanggup tersenyum dan berkata “pelanggan marah? Siapa Takut?
Selamat Berbisnis!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

MOTIVATING PEOPLE The Hard Data on Being a Nice Boss

Harvard Business Review
by Emma Seppälä


There’s an age-old question out there: Is it better to be a “nice” leader to get your staff to like you? Or to be tough as nails to inspire respect and hard work? Despite the recent enthusiasm for wellness initiatives like mindfulness and meditation at the office, and despite the movement toward more horizontal organizational charts, most people still assume the latter is best.
The traditional paradigm just seems safer: be firm and a little distant from your employees. The people who work for you should respect you, but not feel so familiar with you that they might forget who’s in charge. A little dog-eat-dog, tough-it-out, sink-or-swim culture seems to yield time-tested results and keep people hungry and on their toes. After all, if you’re a leader who seems like you care a little too much about your employees, won’t that make you look “soft”? Won’t that mean you will be less respected? That employees will work less hard?
New developments in organizational research are providing some surprising answers to these questions.
“Tough” managers often mistakenly think that putting pressure on employees will increase performance. What it does increase is stress—and research has shown that high levels of stress carry a number of costs to employers and employees alike.
Stress brings high health care and turnover costs. In a study of employees from various organizations, health care expenditures for employees with high levels of stress were 46 percent greater than at similar organizations without high levels of stress. In particular, workplace stress has been linked to coronary heart disease in both retrospective (observing past patterns) and prospective (predicting future patterns) studies. Then there’s the impact on turnover: research shows that workplace stress can lead them to look for a new job, decline a promotion, or leave a job.
Is it any better with “nice” managers? Do their employees fare better — and do kind bosses get ahead?
Contrary to what many believe, Adam Grant’s data shows that nice guys (and gals!) can actually finish first, as long as they use the right strategies that prevent others from taking advantage of them.In fact, other research has shown that acts of altruism actually increase someone’s status within a group.
Harvard Business School’s Amy Cuddy and her research partners have also shown that leaders who project warmth – even before establishing their competence – are more effective than those who lead with their toughness and skill. Why? One reason is trust. Employees feel greater trust with someone who is kind.
And an interesting study shows that when leaders are fair to the members of their team, the team members display more citizenship behavior and are more productive, both individually and as a team. Jonathan Haidt at New York University Stern School of Business shows in his research that when leaders are self-sacrificing, their employees experience being moved and inspired. As a consequence, the employeesfeel more loyal and committed and are more likely to go out of their way to be helpful and friendly to other employeesResearch on “paying it forward” shows that when you work with people who help you, in turn you will be more likely to help others (and not necessarily just those who helped you).
Such a culture can even help mitigate stress. While our brains are attuned to threats (whether the threat is a raging lion or a raging boss), our brain’s stress reactivity is significantly reduced when we observe kind behavior. As brain-imaging studies show, when our social relationships with others feel safe, our brain’s stress response is attenuated. There’s also a physical effect. Whereas a lack of bonding within the workplace has been shown to increase psychological distress, positive social interactions at work have been shown to boost employee health—for example, by lowering heart rate and blood pressure, and by strengthening the immune system. In fact, a study out of the Karolinska Institute conducted on over 3,000 employees found that a leader’s qualities were associated with incidence of heart disease in their employees. A good boss may literally be good for the heart.
In fact, what may come as a surprise to many HR directors, employees prefer happiness to high pay, as Gallup’s 2013 Workplace Poll shows. In turn, happier employees make not only for a more congenial workplace, but also for improved collegiality and customer service. A large healthcare study showed that a kind culture at work not only improved employee well-being and productivity but also improved client health outcomes and satisfaction.
Taken together, this body of research shows that creating a leadership model of trust and mutual cooperation may help create a culture that is happier, in which employees help each other, and (as a consequence) become more productive in the long run. No wonder their nice bosses get promoted.
But what constitutes a compassionate leadership style and workplace exactly? That is a trickier question. Many companies try to offer well-being “perks” such as the ability to work from home or receive extra benefits. A Gallup poll showed that, even when the workplace offered benefits such as flextime and work-from-home opportunities,engagement predicted well-being above and beyond anything else. And most of the research suggests that a compassionate workplace fosters engagement not so much through material goods as through the qualities of the organizations’ leaders, such as a sincere commitment to values and ethics, genuine interpersonal kindness, and self-sacrifice.
What is clear is that we’re going to have to start valuing kindness at work more. One depressing study out of Notre Dame suggests that for men, the more agreeable they are, the lower their pay rate. Because agreeableness does not impact women’s salary, the researchers theorize that when we don’t conform to gender norms, we’re punished. The answer is not for men to be cruel, but for us all to help change the norms. With a little skill, there are ways to be agreeable while not being a pushover or a softy. And then maybe we’ll all be a little bit happier at work.
Emma Seppala, PhD, is a Stanford University research psychologist and the Associate Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. She consults is a corporate well-being consultant as well as a science journalist with Psychology Today, Huffington Post, Scientific American Mind and the e-magazine she founded, Fulfillment Daily. Follow her on Twitter @emmaseppala or her website