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How Your Work Week Affects Your Weekend Mood

Posted on August 31, 2015

With Monday now here (boo) and just four more days standing between us and a long weekend, a good question to ask yourself is “What makes for a good weekend?” Most of us would say a few days free from work and enjoying the weekend with family and friends, relaxation and maybe accomplishing a few things around the house.

But that’s not entirely accurate according to happiness researcher John Helliwell. According to his research, what actually makes your weekend happy is how much you like your weekday job. As much as some may wish it would, the two days off cannot make up for the other five.

His most recent paper, published in the National Bureau of Economic Research, asserts that 75% of the "weekend effect" for happiness and enjoyment can be explained by the quality of a person's workplace.
After culling through four years of Gallup data on work satisfaction, Helliwell found those who work in a high trust environment, where their manager regards them more as a partner than an underling, see a smaller spike in weekend happiness than those who dread their jobs, but their happiness is still greater. For some, the workplace is so good there is no weekend spike in happiness at all. These workers are just - happy. All the time.

This finding conformed to Halliwell’s previous study which found an increase in trust in management has a value in life satisfaction equivalent to a 30% pay raise.

The Benefit of Building a Trusting Workplace

Some may say, “Who cares?” Businesses aren’t built to make workers happy, their function is to make money. But it turns out building a trusting workplace environment is more than just creating nice heartwarming stories, doing so actually improves the bottom line.

According to data from The Russell Investment Group, between the years 1997-2014, the annual stock returns for companies listed on the Fortune 100 Best Employers outperformed the S&P by more than double - 11.8% to 6.0%. This same group also had much less turnover when compared to other companies in their industry, a huge gain considering the high cost of turnover to an organization.

The secret behind this success may not be readily apparent to a casual observer. Instead of being reliant on one boss to have all the answers, as found in hierarchical models, high trust organizations tap into the collective wisdom of individual employees. This makes the knowledge pool wide, deep and diffuse. No one knows the business better and how to improve efficiency than the people doing the work itself. By trusting and tapping into this knowledge, businesses can realize outstanding gains.

We’ve seen it happen time and time again in organizations from Toyota, to 3M, to General Electric, to Lowes, to Facebook, and others. It even works to great effect in government. Amazing things can happen when individual employees are empowered to become contributors and become part of the process.

To make this positive change towards building a high trust organization, the first step is for managers to actively listen and be receptive to employee suggestions. It should be clear that building a high trust organization is more than than just making employees happy, it’s also the first step to take in creating a high performance operation.

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