How The Heart & Head Impact Culture

With the end of the pandemic in sight, conversations have turned to 'What will the world of work look like once we're able to return to offices'. The question is, will people still want to return?

How the heart and head impact culture

Opinion here differs, and there are plenty of people who fall at either extreme of the spectrum, some people never want to go back to the office, some can't wait to be back full time. Of course, most people want to have some kind of middle ground, where they maintain the sense of work-life balance they've established from remote-working and combine it with the social side of office-life.

Wherever your team falls on the work from home vs. working from the office debate, what isn't up for debate, is that there's almost definitely going to be a change in how we work moving forward. These changes are likely to have a lasting impact on your company culture. Whether you're a tight-knit small team who likes to go to the pub after work or part of a larger organisation where watercooler meetings are commonplace. Whilst change isn't necessarily bad, it's very important to measure the impact these changes are having and whether they're positive or negative.

It may seem as though these kinds of cultural impacts are hard to measure and quantify, but at The Happiness Index, we believe there's a simple framework which supports the measurement of seemingly nebulous concepts like culture.

The Importance Of Employee Engagement AND Happiness

We connect the heart and the brain to set you on the path to a thriving culture. For years organisations have only focused on employee engagement. It allows organisations to know how we think. The challenge is we're human, and we don't only think, we feel.

For organisations to maximise employee experience and performance, their people need to be both happy and engaged.

Happiness speaks to our hearts. Engagement speaks to our brains. By understanding how your people are thinking and feeling, your business will thrive. Engagement gives us direction and happiness creates energy. Imagine a car, engagement is the Sat Nav and happiness is the fuel. It's one thing knowing where you want to go, it's another to have the energy to take you there!

With the right balance of employee happiness and engagement organisations create a thriving culture. This means they experience growth in several ways:

  1. The organisation's performance against its objectives.

  2. The growth of their people.

  3. The growth in their collective culture.

Visualising Your Culture

Sometimes the easiest way to make something seem more concrete is to have a better mental image of how it works. We visualise our Cultural Assessment survey with a 4-box model.

Organisations with high levels of engagement but low happiness tend to create a siloed, competing-culture. Organisations with high levels of happiness but low levels of engagement tend to have lots of positive intent but they lack direction.

Ideally, your organisation wants to sit in the top right quadrant where your team is thriving. These teams experience a lot of growth, and this can be achieved whether you are working from home, are all office-based, or have a mix of the two working styles. The great thing is that with the right balance, your organisation can create a thriving culture, but again, the key thing is to be able to measure your current situation and ascertain which steps need to be taken to get you there.

Understanding Culture

At The Happiness Index, we often rely on neuroscience to understand things, so let's have a quick look at the science behind culture. Our understanding of culture builds on two foundations, happiness and engagement. Happiness speaks to our hearts, and looks at the instinctual and emotional side of humans, while engagement is more to do with the reflective and rational sides of human nature.

To build a full picture of your organisation's culture, you need to understand all four of these elements. Here's a little more about each part in turn:

  • Instinctive: Sometimes it's easy to see our chimp mind springing into action when our genetic pre-programming is coming to the fore. This is often when people don't feel safe and are preoccupied with gaining that sense of security.

  • Emotional: This is our immediate response to people and environment. Again these can be quite base reactions and many people may not even realise how important and fundamental they are.

  • Reflective: When we take a step back and consider the impact of our responses to what is going on around us. Thinking about where we fit into the bigger picture is a key element here.

  • Rational: This is almost the polar opposite to emotional, as it's the slow-burning area of our brain, where we're taking time to think about our options and what feeds into our work environment.

Building Towards A Thriving Growth Culture

As you can see from our neuroscience approach to culture, it doesn't matter where you are - building culture is all about how people feel and think about your organisation. This comes first and then your happy, healthy, thriving culture will come naturally from there.

When we look at each area of the brain in turn, we can see what we need to have a growth culture:

  • Instinctive: First you need your people to feel safe in their team, then you can build on this towards freedom, where people feel able to explore and create.

  • Emotional: Building strong relationships is key because this is where humans gain energy, from here, acknowledgement is also important - this builds a connection to people and the environment.

  • Reflective: We focus on the idea of meaning and purpose first, as this is why we connect to people and our work. Next, personal growth is important for seeing direction and why people stick with an organisation.

  • Rational: Initially it's important to build clarity - what people are doing and by when. What follows is enablement - giving people the tools and resources to succeed and to excel!

Going Forward, Not Backwards

But how can you ensure you're growing in the right direction? With hybrid working models likely to be prominent in the future, and you're not able to see your team as often as you may be used to, how will you know whether the direction you're taking your company culture in is the correct one?

Well, this is where the Cultural Assessment survey comes in! Follow the link for more information.

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Linked to Happiness & Engagement in our neuroscience methodology... learn more

Recommended reading

Employee Engagement: What You Need To Know

What Is eNPS & How Can You Improve It?

Vivobarefoot: A B-Corp Transformation Journey

About The Happiness Index

The Happiness Index helps organisations measure the key employee engagement AND happiness drivers to power their people strategy.

Our unique platform offers the products, insights and tools to shine a light on your cultural health and empower management to drive thriving cultures.

Our neuroscience-based pre-built surveys measure the full employee experience - from onboarding to exit to empower and enable organisations to understand their people and create data-led action plans.


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