In their recently published global happiness report, Christian Krekel and colleagues (2018) have identified twelve key factors that determine how satisfied people are with their jobs (for the full list click here). Not surprisingly, the most important factor was having high-quality relationships with your co-workers, and more specifically, your manager.
However, what piqued my interest was the second most important factor, which was “having an interesting job”. In this article, we want to explore what this means in a bit more depth. What really makes a job more interesting? How does this relate to happiness? And finally, why should we care about this?
The following examples illustrate three very different ways in which organisations have successfully created interesting jobs.
One thing that Ritz-Carlton and Zappos have in common is their outstanding customer service. Both the luxury hotel chain and the Amazon-owned online fashion retailer have found ways to motivate their employees to deliver the best possible service. At Ritz-Carlton, employees can spend up to $2000 to solve their customers’ problems without asking for their manager. Similarly, Zappos’ call-centre employees at any level have the same freedom as managers to fully refund a customer’s money, for instance, or to send a surprise bunch of flowers. Unlike in other call-centres, they don’t need to stick to any scripts or time limits, as real human connections are more highly valued over standardisation and cost-efficiency.
So, from an employee perspective, how does this make their jobs more interesting? The answer is simple: they have autonomy. They are in control of how they act and what they do. Of course, there needs to be some ground rules, but employees are trusted to make their own decisions and act within those. Instead of following tight regulations or scripts like robots, employees can now build human connections with customers and find more personalised solutions to their problems. As a result, employees feel valued and trusted by their organisation. They feel a sense of achievement when they have been able to ‘fix’ a customer’s problem or complaint more quickly and directly. And in return customers will feel satisfied that they have been treated fairly and are more likely to return in the future and indeed tell their friends and family about how well their issue was handled.