Jay Shirley

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The Daily Practice

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The value of happiness and loyalty.

Published: 08 Nov 2011

First, the context of this is a consulting agency out in Tennessee that wrote about evaluating job performance and providing immediate feedback and rewards.

The idea is very simple. During a bi-weekly evaluation they earn badges for above-and-beyond. Badges can be redeemed for small monetary rewards. This is a very good idea, and I don’t think it’s incredibly unique.

What are badges really good for?

As an employee, earning a badge must feel good. It probably doesn’t feel as good as the reward though. My cynical side wonders how many repeat earners there are and what the distribution is. If I was offered an incentive to write for my company, I probably would. I enjoy writing.

There are other things they could offer and I wouldn’t do. I don’t enjoy doing them. That’s what makes this great. It’s entirely optional.

I think that by incentivizing employees to voluntarily take part in activities they enjoy, and rewarding them accordingly, you build happiness. You do not build loyalty, though. Loyalty is a different issue.

Happiness ≠ Loyalty

My first thought, not even in words, was this separation. Loyalty and happiness are not the same thing and trying to lump them together will result in failure.

When I was later trying to articulate this thought, I settled on this:

  1. Loyalty is when an employee will not leave their job even when a slightly better offer comes along.
  2. Happiness is when an employee will leave only when the company is better than where they are at.

I think many bosses in the world would appreciate loyalty. It means they wake up and today is the same as yesterday. They can count on employees being there. They may even have fun.

Happiness, however, is a sign of improvement. Happy people are defensive of their happiness. Happy people would only leave to go to a job that is simply better. They would only go to a happier place.

Happy people are worth more.

It obviously hurts when someone goes to a happier place. Those left behind feel a twinge of envy. The bosses panic. How will the shoes be filled?

If you have a good company, it shouldn’t be a problem. There should be happy people looking to find their happier place. Let their happpier place be your happy place.