Three Keys to ‘The Best Place to Work’


workplaceWhy do some companies reward failure? What can casinos teach us about building a happy workplace? How do you design an office that enhances detail as well as creativity?

These are all questions posed inside the book jacket for The Best Place to Work by Ron Friedman, Ph.D. The questions piqued our interest. Keep in mind freelancers need to get creative with our own portable workplaces (coffee shops, anyone?) but as for full-timers, your physical office says a lot about your happiness and productivity.

1. Help people expand their skill sets. Per the press release, sure a swimming pool and ping-pong table on the premises can boost morale but the author says what differentiates a decent workplace from a great one isn’t necessarily a pool or game of table tennis.

“It’s the extent to which they satisfy employees’ psychological needs and create conditions that allow their people to produce great work.”

How can you achieve this on a shoestring budget? Create connections to coworkers over existing interests like bowling, cooking or exercises.

2. Acknowledge that our mind and body both have limitations. This makes sense from a leadership perspective. The author points out, “We’re not machines. We have limited mental bandwidth and require restorative experiences like mid-day walks, exercise or even napping to produce our best work.”

3. Strive for happiness but not perpetual happiness. Here’s the thing — happiness is good, this is a given. But too much happiness can actually harm work quality and even the best environment can be detrimental at times.

Let’s say you’re in a positive mood. Everything is sunshine, puppies and unicorns! Well, if you’re a diligent copy editor, mistakes may occur. He points out in the press release, “Being in a positive mood can undermine your performance by leading you to be careless.”

Ultimately, he says, companies should strive to build work environments that are conducive to happiness. “But what they shouldn’t do is communicate an expectation that perpetual happiness is an expectation, nor that it is a desirable state.”


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