A Danish word, arbejdsglæde means “happiness at work.” In a recent Gallop pole they found Danes to be significantly happier at work — not just in general — than Americans.
Although this may seem trivial, happy workers are more productive, have fewer sick days and create cohesive, efficient teams. Happy workers better serve customers. And we all know happier customers results in higher profits.
So how could you set up your company to have a higher arbejdsglæde index?
Here are a few things Danish companies do:
- Their employees spend less hours at work. Counter-intuitive, but could it be that when people are at work they are more efficient when they are not working from burn out?
- Greater employee authority and autonomy in their given job. Danish management rarely give orders to be followed but have employees who feel empowered to achieve results.
- Strong commitment to life-long employee training. Seems obvious that better trained employees would perform better; however, many U.S. companies focus more on the expense of training and usually have a short term goal to accomplish with any training program.
- Danish companies seem to rate themselves on how happy their employees are as a cultural norm and employees expect to be happy. American culture seems to assume you won’t like your job with woes about it being Monday, “Thank God it’s Friday”, and other common phrases illustrating our general view.
- High level of employee benefits is typical in Danish companies — partially based on government law.
As a female entrepreneur or business owner, how can you incorporate some of what the Danes do into your own company culture? I believe companies that succeed in the future will have a much better relationship with their employees as a competitive advantage.
Thai Lee runs the largest female run American business, SHI International. The company has made her a billionaire and she attributes most of the success to her employees and her team. Of the 19 people who directly report to her, their average time working for her at SHI is 18 years. Those are not people who “hate” their jobs.