by Brian Townley  (consultant with Reality Intelligence)


There is a statistic that has been cast around lately in different arenas; from business, to psychology, and in personal development. 85% of the work force is unhappy and unmotivated.

As quickly as this statistic is put out there, so is the debate as to the cause of this new phenomenon.  Does it lay in the attitude of the employee or the attitude and culture of a company?

To get caught up in this debate can be enticing.  But trust me, like the riddle, what came first, the chicken or the egg, there is no winner here.  Why?  Because now a days, our culture and subcultures, which includes businesses, are recognizing survival and growth is based on the Eastern Principle of Interbeingness.

In our Western world, the simplest synonym for this principle would be interconnectedness and healthy reciprocal relationship.   Before cultures such as big business want to dismiss the efficacy of investing time and resources to building these relationships throughout their culture: employee to employer, business to supplier, business to customer, employee to customer and business to environment.

Thought leaders on modern business, such as American author Seth Godin and American internet entrepreneur and CEO of the online shoe and clothing shop Zappos.com, Tony Hsieh, have been proclaiming that this is the era of the “connection economy.”  What this means is that profits no longer taken center stage, relationships do, including but not limited to all the ones mentioned above.

Businesses who courageously take this path are noticing a level of happiness not just within the company, but outside the company with their customers.  In fact, companies such as Zappos are proving that intra-company happiness is often a measure of economic profits.

So where does a company begin if they want to cultivate a relationship based company, so that they can grow in this connection economy?

This is not quick and easy work.  This is not about simply coming up with a new questionnaire or evaluation that can be used in the hiring process.  This is about digging deep and getting clear about what you company stands for.

This tasks needs to be driven by the executive management to senior management to middle management. Outside of making sure the company can make a profit and be viable in the market place, this is one of the most important tasks that an executive team makes.

Identifying a company’s values is not a new thing.  It’s taught and talked about in many books and corporate retreats.  Yet, in my opinion, most companies’ core values don’t hold weight.  In order for them to have power and leverage, they need to fulfill a few requirements.

Companies need to be willing to hire and fire based on them. They need to be relationship centered, primarily with employees and customers. Their language needs to be accessible, stripped of business jargon, and transparent to the environments it serves.

When all these are in place, something interesting begins to happen.  The company has focus, micromanaging becomes less needed because creative initiative increases, loyalty among customers and employees increase, and a brand is created that draws future talent.

This last item brings us to the role of Human Resources.  Once a company decides their core values, it’s the main task of HR to screen potential employees based on how well they align with the company’s values.

To begin the process I would recommend exploring these areas to create core values that can be identified in your company’s mission statement.  And ask yourself if these values can be used to hire and fire from:

  • What defines “WOW” service?
  • What defines relationship service?
  • How does embracing and driving change benefit clients and how can that mindset be something employees believe in?
  • How can the work environment promote fun and a little weirdness where employee’s enjoy their job and are loyal to the company?
  • What structure is available for employees to demonstrate their adventurous, creative, and being open minded.
  • What structures do we have in place where employees feel they can pursue growth and learning? What programs and structures are in place where employees feel management is interested in building open and honest relationships and communication?
  • What programs and structures are in place where employee’s feel management is interested in building a positive team and family spirit
  • How can an environment be created where employee’s see the benefit to doing more with less?
  • How does a company identify employees who are passionate and determined about being successful?
  • What defines a humble employee and management and how can this benefit the company’s core values?