What to make of David Cameron’s recent proposals to measure the nation’s wellbeing and happiness as well as its GDP? With deep spending cuts on the way, it could be argued that the PM is either being very brave or very foolish. Remarkably, given the UK’s routinely combative political system, almost all of the political parties have been encouraging about the idea and other countries are considering adopting similar schemes.
Much of the impetus for this has come from a paper which was written by, among others, Joseph Stiglitz, the Columbia Professor of Economics and Nobel Prize winner. You can find his report here.
It is interesting to think how the idea could be applied to the staff of businesses and other organisations. Naturally, for a business, the bottom line will always be paramount. Your staff might be overjoyed to come into work every day but if the business is constantly losing money and there is no hope of ever making a profit then that happiness, like the business, is unlikely to last. You need only look at the dotcom boom of the late Nineties for multiple examples.
However, looking beyond the importance of the balance sheet, there is a lot to be said for measuring your organisation’s wellbeing. Does your staff feel fulfilled, motivated and able to be innovative? How do you know? One thing is for sure, your business will not be gaining the most from them if they feel fearful, de-motivated and creatively frustrated.
How you go about measuring wellbeing or happiness is not a straightforward task but it is worth looking into. Mr Cameron may not like the results of his wellbeing index but at least he will know how the nation is feeling. It will be a useful index for any political party pondering when to go to the polls. A staff wellbeing index would be an equally useful tool for any business that was thinking about expansion, launching a new product or indeed making any major change.