Our health is our wealth

Have you seen Shawn Achor’s TEDx talk on The Happy Secret To Better Work?

It’s utterly inspiring.

Not only because he’s an exceptional speaker but also because his views and opinions are music to the ears of progressive business people everywhere.

Researching and teaching about positive psychology, as the CEO of Good Think Inc., Achor’s work has dramatically increased success rates and profitability at a range of educational establishments and businesses, by increasing happiness and meaning.

But this isn’t a plug for Achor.

It’s a huge plug for the benefits of putting Health and Wellbeing at the top of the agenda when it comes to building and running a sustainable and profitable business.

If you’ve not watched the talk yet you might want to start there but, simply put, Achor’s premise is this:

The approach to life of 'if I work harder I'll be more successful - if I'm more successful, then I'll be happier' is wrong.

Why? Because if happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain will never get there. You will keep shifting the goalposts to reach for increasing levels of success and your happiness will get pushed beyond the horizon.

But our brains work in the opposite order. If you get happy first, your brain has a happiness advantage over when it is negative, neutral or stressed.

Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise and business outcomes improve, with the benefits for happy people including;

  • Securing better jobs
  • Keeping better jobs
  • Having superior productivity
  • More resilience
  • Less burnout
  • Less turnover
  • Greater sales

I’ll have some of that!

If we can become more happy in the present, we can reverse the old formula.

We can work harder, faster, more productively and creatively. And so much more.


We employ this strategy at Propellernet. And it’s working.

I’m delighted as we’ve just been awarded the Investors in People Health and Wellbeing award, in recognition of our strategic approach to Health and Wellbeing.

Our people are very happy (and we track this weekly), motivated and engaged.

As a result, our business has grown 40% year on year, while becoming more sustainable and profitable over the last 18 months. It feels good to drive “Harmonious Profit”. It gives us choices and enables us to invest in innovation – be it client, product or people based.

Harmonious Profit?

We’re all well aware of the fact the traditional capitalism is about driving more and more profit out of fewer resources.

Those at the top take the lion’s share of the rewards from such practises, earning massive multiples of those at the bottom, and generally don’t pay too much attention to the physical and psychological health of those driving the value. Cutting costs is a core focus and outsourcing common.

Where Wellbeing is on the agenda, it’s often left to HR professionals to implement and while it’s good that it’s getting some recognition, too often, it is reduced to process and policies

True, personal and organisational wellbeing needs to be taken care of by the whole company and should be top down, bottom up and sideways too.

It’s an ethos, not a process, bound to a clear strategy and effective planning that ensures that everyone is empowered to make it work.

We’ve developed our formula for profitability and it’s centred around making Wellbeing a priority.

Not just for the Board so that we can tick the ‘people and culture’ box, but for the whole company, so we’re all pulling in the same direction.

We’re all on the happiness trail in pursuit of doing good business.

The right attitude

Values-based recruitment has served us well and we’ve focused on getting the right people on board from an attitudinal point of view. You can teach, mentor and develop the skills people need but it’s having the right attitude that’s crucial. Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why sums it up well:

If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.

Clearly copious amounts of blood, sweat and tears flies in the face of the wellbeing ethos but you get my drift. Personal commitment and emotional engagement with your ‘job’ drive far more value than being in it to take the money and run.

Our health and happiness is our wealth

Back to Achor, who says that:

90% of long term happiness is predicted, not by your external world, but by the way your brain processes the world. If we change our formula for happiness and success, we can affect reality. We can change every educational and business outcome.

The IiP award recognises the strategy, implementation, measurement and continuous improvement of our approach to wellbeing.

Although Health and Wellbeing is not just about food and fitness but the proof is in the pudding. Our physical, psychological and emotional health are most definitely the source of our increasing wealth as a team.

It’s a shared sense of wellbeing that enables creativity and productivity to skyrocket.

We are, by a long way, the smallest company in the UK to be given this award of recognition and we’re certainly punching above our weight from a Wellbeing perspective.

We cultivate motivated, engaged people who subsequently drive healthy margins. We create Harmonious Profit. And it feels good.

I’m always open to ideas and challenges, so feel free to pick up the phone, drop me a line (nikki@propellernet.co.uk) or comment on this post.

By Nikki Gatenby

20 March 2012