Maximizing Workplace Happiness in an Era of Imbalance

What if I told you that happiness in the workplace was achievable? That the ability to change workplace culture was real? And what if the path toward change was relatively simple to do, and began with just one person?

Lately I’ve had a number of conversations with people who are relatively unhappy with their jobs due to workplace culture. And when I hear these stories, I can’t help but think that people should have a little more hope for what IS possible to change. Whether it be a recent merger, lack of leadership at the top, or the fact that a particular business is operating at a baseline level of consciousness, there are paths to change. And despite what you may believe, change begins with YOU. Just check out these 25 featured employees at companies who are changing cutures in stride (thank you, Phil Clothier).

Too often the response I get is “things will never change.” But here’s the dirty little secret: organizational transformation begins with the personal transformation of its leaders. Consciousness development is what’s required to see one’s reality from new perspectives: perspectives that ultimately inform and inspire new ways of thinking that were unable to be accessed prior. It’s why mindfulness and meditation is now estimated to be a $1.1 billion industry.

One of my all-time favorite starting points for this type of conversation begins with the Barrett Values Centre based out of London. I recently came across a post I wrote back in 2012 about the great work they are doing, where I shared a presentation that mapped the perceived, actual, and desired values for various countries. Let me tell you, this stuff is fascinating! Here’s a graphic to illustrate the different levels of personal and organizational transformation:


The basic idea is that if a country (or organization’s) values are out of whack or misaligned, there’s a higher level of instability in the system.  In 2011 for example, the top three actual cultural values in America included “bureaucracy,” “corruption” and “blame” while the top three desired cultural values included “accountability,” “economic growth” and “concern for future generations.”

To compare and contrast with a country like Bhutan, a country that appears to be getting it right, among the top actual cultural values in 2015 were “continuous improvement,” “environmental protection” and “education” while desired cultural values were nearly equivalent. Brief digression – check out this AWESOME trailer for a documentary I’m personally really excited about:

Needless to say, Bhutan’s rate of cultural entropy stands at 4% compared to the United States’ 56% according to the Barrett Values assessment. Cultural entropy is defined as the degree of dysfunction that occurs in a community or nation due to the felt presence of unmet needs and fear-based behaviors that impact the general population. See the full presentation below:

Now to relate this to workplace culture, we must begin with the idea in mind that values are the building blocks of culture. Without clear values (hence those mission and vision statements), there is no map for desired behavior. Check out this presentation/case study on employee values:

In summary, changing culture begins with assessing and mapping values, as well as the personal development of its leaders. These are the paths to change.

To take your own FREE personal values assessment at Barrett Values Centre’s website, click here. Richard Barrett also has a book called “The Values-Driven Organization” you an check out, as well as a new book entitled “The Values-Driven Organization: Cultural Health and Employee Well-Being as a Pathway to Sustainable Performance” releasing TOMORROW. Ok, now how’s that for synchronicity?



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