Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

The Connection Between Community, Work, and Happiness

Chapter 8: Build Your Community Part 8

I define a community as a group of people with a common interest who look out for each other.  In his book “Bowling Alone,” Harvard Professor Robert Putnam rigorously documents the decline of community in America. Putnam points to decreasing membership in organizations like the PTA and Shriners, as well as a decrease in the frequency of informal get-togethers like Sunday picnics.

Why is this important? Current research suggests that one of the most important drivers of happiness is community.  (See here for a summary of recent happiness research).   Humans are inherently social creatures; we like to belong and like to interact with other people.  And with less community, there are less opportunities to connect, and therefore less opportunities to generate happiness.

The workplace can look and feel a lot like a community.  We spend most of our waking hours at work.  A good leader will try to pull employees together towards a common purpose, and create a sense of esprit de corps.  And just as a community takes care of it’s members, many companies provide extensive lifestyle benefits to employees, such as on site medical, dental, dry cleaning, and of course the grand daddy of them all, the on-site gym.

Southwest Airlines has made its culture and community a competitive advantage, creating funds to allow employees to help other employees deal with natural disasters, and “culture committees” to plan parties around lifestyle events. (See SWA website.)   Of course Southwest Airlines has something that most other companies don’t – a no layoff policy.

In the next post, I’ll explore whether layoffs disqualify the workplace as a true community.

<<Previous Post   Next Post>>

Comments

  1. Greg Marcus says:

    As it happens, today Glassdoor came out with it’s 50 best places to work list, based on employee feedback. Southwest Airlines is #12. I read the reviews, and the only complaint seems to be around the salary. http://www.glassdoor.com/Best-Places-to-Work-LST_KQ0,19.htm?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=BPTW13-G&utm_content=BPTW13-G

Trackbacks

  1. […] <<Previous  Next>> Please ShareLinkedInFacebookTwitterStumbleUponPrintMoreDiggRedditEmail Filed Under: Busting Your Corporate Idol, Chapter 8: Build Your Community Tagged With: Busting Your Corporate Idol, career, chapter 8, christmas layoffs, community, giorgi, layoffs, secure your community, work friendships, work life balance Links Ok If you have written a post or know an article relevant to this post, please feel free to add a link in your comment. […]