DevOps Institute

[EP87] The Leadership Blind Spot: The Global Rise of Unhappiness and How Leaders Missed It


In this episode, Eveline Oehrlich is joined by Jon Clifton, CEO of Gallup. They discuss Jon’s work with Gallup and how leadership in society can lead to overall unhappiness.

Jon Clifton is the CEO of Gallup, the global analytics and advice firm. Mr. Clifton’s mission is to help organizations create thriving workplaces; put 1 billion people in touch with their strengths; and help 8 billion citizens be heard on their most pressing issues through the Gallup World Poll, a 100-year initiative spanning over 150 countries.

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Eveline Oehrlich 00:09
Hello everybody. This is Eveline Oehrlich at the DevOps Institute and this is the humans of DevOps Podcast. Today, Is a very exciting session with a wonderful gentleman, Jon Clifton, CEO of the Gallup of Gallup, and the episode title is the Leadership Blind Spot, the Global Rise of Unhappiness and how Leaders Missed it. I’m very excited to welcome you here to our podcast. Today, Jon. hello there.

Jon Clifton 00:40
Hi, Evelyn. thank you for having me.

Eveline Oehrlich 00:42
Yes, excited to be here with you really honored to be here.Before we get into our conversation, I want to make sure that our listeners know who you are, and what you do. So I’m gonna read a little bit of that, because I could not remember all of this. So Jon is the CEO of Gallup, global analytics and advice firm. And Jon, I’ll ask you a little bit later on, give us our listeners a little bit of an insight on to Gallup they might not be familiar with. So Jon’s mission is to build the world’s official statistics for everything related to work and life, to put people worldwide in touch with their strength and to help organizations great thriving workplaces. Jon is a non resident Senior Fellow at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of religion. He serves on the board of directors for Gallup and young professionals in foreign policy, and has also served on the boards of Meridian International Center, street wise partners, chess challenge in DC, and find dear, I think that’s fine Dyer, I think that’s how you say it. Because of his expertise, Jon is often called to speak about gallops research to international associations, including the United Nations International Association for official statistics and the World Bank. He has been interviewed on BBC News C spans Washington journal, and Al Jazeera, and has testified in front of the US Congress, who are the state of American small business and entrepreneurship. This is fantastic that you are here, Jon, take taking your time out of your day to be with us here at the DevOps Institute. Thank you very much. Again, we’re honored to have you on our podcast.

Jon Clifton 02:24
It’s great to be here.

Eveline Oehrlich 02:25
Yeah. So Gallup, of course, I am reached. I’m in research, and I have enjoyed Gallup research for quite a while, even as I was at Forrester not really competition to Gallup, because your work is very different from what we did at Forrester. But tell our listeners who might not be familiar with Gallup. What does Gallup actually do?

Jon Clifton 02:46
At the core of everything we do is we help people be heard, and we help leaders listen and understand their constituencies. We do that at the individual level, at the organizational level and at the global level. And for the past 80 years, we’ve been doing macro level listening, where we conduct surveys and ask how people feel about their lives, about the institutions in the countries where they live. And more recently, we’ve been helping organizations create thriving workplaces by listening to their colleagues and also to their customer bases. And the other thing is, is that we help build strengths based organizations, this is to understand how different people are, and also to help them grow individually, through their strengths. So those those are the different things that Gallup does.

Eveline Oehrlich 03:36
So one of the things you’re doing is all you have done is Clifton Strengths. I call it an assessment, but it’s probably an analysis, right? Give us a couple of sentences on what that is. Because I have not done it yet. But my colleague AB has done as we just talked in our pre podcast, I will do it. Tell us a little bit about what that is.

Jon Clifton 03:58
Yeah, so if you think back to ancient philosophy, almost every single philosopher kind of agreed that the key to a great life, is to do it through your strengths. Even modern philosophers like the business thinker Peter Drucker said something almost identical around the key to a successful career is through your strengths. And while all of them agreed that’s what was the key to a great life, nobody really said where to start. And Don Clifton decades ago said he was going to make it his mission in the world to help people figure out a way to get started. And that’s when he created StrengthsFinder, which we recently renamed to Clifton Strengths. He created an assessment that people could go through, and a lot of times people confuse it with a personality assessment. That’s not what it is. It is a development accelerator so that people can understand what is it that makes them unique, and how can they at a very highly individualized type of way how can they grow because everybody grew Rosen develops very differently. So that’s what it is. It’s an assessment that we make available to anyone on our website, they go through this kind of 45 minute assessment. And at the end, it says, Here are the behaviors that and talents that make you great.

Eveline Oehrlich 05:14
Fantastic, I will do it, I have it on my plan, I’ve had it on my bucket list for actually quite a long time. I just have not done it. While I was at Hewlett Packard many, many years ago, we did the Myers Briggs, I’m sure you familiar with that, of course, it’s very, very different. So I’m very curious to do it. Anyway. That’s not why we’re here. We’re actually here because of this wonderful book called blind spot. I actually have read this book during my vacation here in South France. And I have to tell you, it was fascinating. It was stunning. It was daunting, it was thought provoking. And it was actually for me, a little bit scary, because I love my job. I love what I do. I’ve always loved what I do. I’m extremely engaged, and those who were working with me, are very engaged. And I’m just amazed at all the data in the book and all the details you have gathered. So the most serious finding, of course, is that almost every leader in the world has missed that there are huge challenges in that there are a lot of unhappy. There’s a lot of unhappy people, right. So first of all, congratulations to the book, it launched September 13. This year, fantastic, great book, lots of success. I wish you lots of success, I know it will have lots of success. Tell me about what led you to this research and write the book.

Jon Clifton 06:41
Well, public and private sector leaders still today are focused on rational indicators, things like whether or not people have jobs through unemployment indicators, GDP per capita, whether or not companies are making more profit. But what they don’t focus on are indicators about how people feel. And that’s a problem. Because what we’ve learned through behavioral economics now is that decision making for humans is not necessarily rational. In fact, most of it is actually emotional yet, we don’t really follow indicators about how people feel. And we think that’s a problem. So a little over 15 years ago, we said we’re gonna create the world’s official statistics for how people feel. And we started to ask people, do you have a lot of stress? Do you have a lot of anger? Do you have a lot of sadness, because just like today that we can quantify whether or not an economy is growing or contracting, we also want to know, if we could pick up if stress was increasing, or if the world was getting sad, or if it was getting angrier. And in our first about five to six years of tracking this, we effectively saw no change. We saw kind of what we thought in terms of conventional wisdom, which was that in places that were affected by war, or an economic crisis, people felt a lot more misery. But about 10 years ago, we started to see a trend that really started to concern us, which was the fact that anger, stress, sadness, physical pain, and worry began increasing all over the world. And it was happening in places like India, it was happening in places like China, Brazil, Mexico, almost at exactly the same rate. So we felt like it was a good time to alert the world about this very concerning trend and release a book on it. And that’s what we’re doing now.

Eveline Oehrlich 08:24
So, the type of research you do as a researcher myself, of course, I’m curious. And in the book it describes I want you to share with our listeners, how do you actually go about researching this whole unhappiness or happiness? I know there’s a whole bunch of things, and I don’t want you to give away too much. But first question, how do you actually do your research? And second question, once you have done this research, where are you? And how are you actually sharing that and going forward with besides the book?

Jon Clifton 08:57
Well, so the way that we do this research is conducted through surveys. And for some reason, a lot of people get uncomfortable when we talk about surveys, I think they think that individuals may not know how to accurately reflect how their lives are going. But interestingly enough, most of the data that we actually consume, at least in terms of macro level indicators are actually conducted by surveys, for example, unemployment is one of the most relied upon statistics internationally. And oftentimes, people think that that’s some sort of headcount or that companies submit their payroll. It’s not the case. Unemployment is measured by a massive survey in the United States. 60,000 people per month are interviewed. And after about an hour there, they’re asked, Do you have a job? We effectively did the same thing. But instead of saying, Do you have a job, we just ask people, How much stress do you have how much anger and there are a lot of people to that goal? Is it accurate? Do people know how much stress they have? They do. And you can actually test this through things like brain scans, you can actually ask their friends and if you say to him, is your friend experiencing a lot of stress and In a lot of times, they are more times than not, they’re very accurate. So people are in touch with how they feel, and they can accurately report it to a total stranger. And speaking of its total strangers, so the way that we capture this in roughly 140 countries every single year is that in 40 countries, we do phone calls, we call people’s mobile phones, we call their landlines, and then we have a conversation with them. But for the other 100 countries, because not everyone in the world has a phone, we do face to face interviewing. And this is not just in capital cities or major economic hubs. These are truly nationally representative samples, meaning oftentimes the interviewers that we work with, will have to even drive eight to nine hours in order to conduct just a handful of interviews, to ask people how their lives are going. So this is a really extensive process that we undertake in order to make sure that we’re capturing the right kind of information.

Eveline Oehrlich 10:53
So we can envision, and I was seeing, I can see the the picture in the book, a gentleman in Indonesia, who is going actually into one of the heads in Indonesia, I’ve actually traveled there myself, and has a conversation with a lady, I think asking her the variety of questions. And so you travel across, you have folks who travel across and they are local, and they speak the language to actually do that. Wow, very different from the we do a lot of surveys also at the DevOps Institute. But of course, you’re absolutely right survey, sometimes we see some biases, and we see some challenges. Of course, our sample size is nearly not nearly as as large as your as your sample size. Fantastic. Okay, let’s, let’s get into the let’s get into the, as we call it, the depth of the book. And one thing, which really was was important to me, and what I what I realized, because I believe I’m the only optimist, German optimist, I think, because Germans are not very optimistic. And if my German colleagues are out there who want to get some, get some love on optimism, reach out to me, but the book discusses this topic of negative emotion index. across and you mentioned it already, you asked about anger, stress, sadness, worry, physical pain and sadness, which has been rising over the past decade. So a couple of things to discuss. First of all, what does that mean that negative emotion index elaborate a little bit on that? What what are you asking those folks? Are you saying, Are you? Are you sad? So yes, no question, right? Help us understand that negative emotion index, and then there is a positive emotion index as well. So if you can elaborate on that, that would be also wonderful.

Jon Clifton 12:36
Absolutely. So before I say this, I should also note that what we are measuring is very difficult. And we are only 15 years into this work. Where as you take indicators like GDP are a lot of people feel that the birth of GDP took place in the late 1930s, when Simon Kuznets approached Congress and said, Hey, we have an indicator to basically figure out, is the economy growing? Or is it getting smaller? We’re doing the same in terms of how people’s lives are going. So you know, GDP still almost 100 years in has its imperfections. So it’s not to say that this work that we are doing is yet perfect. So there may be imperfections, but we’re doing our best. And so the way that we’ve determined this is based on extensive research by academics like Ed Diener and Nobel laureate Danny Kahneman, where we said like, what is it that makes a great life? Or how do you define well being, and we did it with two constructs. One is how people see their lives. And the other is how people live their lives. So how people see their lives is kind of an overall reflection of everything that’s taken place in their life. And it taps in to what Danny Kahneman who say, is the remembering mind. And the way that we capture that is to ask people rate your life on a scale of zero to 10, where 10 is the best possible life. And zero is the worst imaginable life. Where do you stand today, the results of that have been made famous people call it happiness, it’s probably more of a measure of contentment. But the people who on average rate their lives the best are people that live in the Nordic countries. It’s why you hear that Denmark or Finland, are oftentimes the happiest countries in the world. Again, the brand is happiness. But it’s probably more accurate to say that the most content the people who rate their lives the worst are places like Afghanistan. In our last survey in Afghanistan and 2021. We did face to face interviews, women were interviewing women, the Taliban allowed it. And we saw some of the worst life ratings not just that we’ve ever seen in the history of our tracking of Afghanistan, but also in the history of our tracking of our entire global database. So you can also see there that it does confirm some of conventional wisdom that we know things aren’t great in Afghanistan. And we know probably even based on external indicators like GDP per capita, that people who live in the Nordic countries are doing quite well. But on the other side of the ledger, is how people live their lives. And this is more in the moment on whether or not someone is feeling stress. Whether or not somebody is laughing and smiling a lot. Now, ideally, we would have some sort of buzzer that attached to everyone in humanity. And we could sort of ask them right at that moment, say, How do you feel, or that we would be able to get to do some sort of cortisol test so we can actually see their levels of stress. Unfortunately, we just don’t have the ability to do that. And so the next best thing we can do is say, please tell me about all day yesterday, did you feel a lot of the following? How about anger, stress, sadness, physical pain, or worry, those are the negative emotions. And then we also asked about positive emotions, whether or not people felt well rested, whether or not they were treated with respect, laughed and smiled, experienced enjoyment, or learned or did something interesting. So those 10 indicators, five, negative five positive are how people are experiencing life each day. And the reason we have to measure them differently, is because they have different drivers. And we can see that they have different outcomes. For example, the people who say that they laugh and smile a lot, and also experienced the most enjoyment or people in Latin America, people in Latin America know how to have fun, arguably, more than anyone else in the world. And we can see it in our data. On the other hand, in terms of negative emotions, this has been true for 15 straight years, the region of the world that expresses the most anger, the most sadness, the most physical pain is the Middle East, Iraq and Iran are oftentimes at the very top. And also places like Afghanistan. So also in Afghanistan, we saw the highest negative emotions, on all those indicators that we’ve ever seen in the history of our database, not just for Afghanistan, but also for negative emotions. So those are the two different constructs that we measure. One is how people see their lives. And the other is how they live their lives, which we also break up into two different constructs positive emotions and negative emotions.

Eveline Oehrlich 16:46
Fascinating. So when I think of Finland, I actually don’t remember them smiling a lot. So how can they be the happiest people in the world? Right? I think you go into that in more detail in the book. Are they are they’re not really happy to content? Right?

Jon Clifton 17:04
Yeah, there’s a really cool kind of study that I think a journalist did. And they went and asked people on the streets in Finland, they said, Hey, Finland, was just announced that they are the happiest country in the world. What do you think about that? And people on the street, were saying, I’m not very happy. Those results don’t make sense to me. In fact, one minister actually said, Well, if we’re the happiest country in the world, I feel sorry for all the other countries. And I think that’s because of the brand happiness. And if you read the World Happiness Report that actually launches this and they use Gallup data. So the data I’m referring to are the data that they use, are the life rating data. And they say that while this might not be happiness that we’re capturing, it might actually be subjective well being or contentment, they said, the reason that we use the word happiness is because it’s what gets the most attention. Sure. And if they said, we have the world contentment report, people probably wouldn’t read it. And I agree with him. The reason I agree with him is because I did report myself on Gallup dot coms website, or gallops website and actually found exactly what they found, which is I wrote an article use words like well being thriving, contentment, and people don’t read it. And when you switch the word to happiness, all of a sudden, people are much more likely to pick it up. So even if you remind people in the methodology that we’re actually may not be capturing happiness, we’re kind of getting more of contentment. They’re just a lot more likely to read it. So I think it is important that you have to get the branding, right, if you want to make sure that the information is consumed, because unfortunately, people do judge a book by its cover.

Eveline Oehrlich 18:44
Absolutely. And we are the DevOps Institute sometimes have that same challenge. Because when people think about the DevOps Institute in the word DevOps, they all think we’re geeks, and we all we do is write code. And IT folks Well, some of us are, and our community is very large. We have over 90,000 members and followers. Not all of them are geeks. There’s a lot of people out there White, who who have I don’t think so. And then the word Institute is another one of those words. So we’re trying to think about some changes in words as well. All right, so your most surprising finding for yourself on the report when when you step back, and you look at the book, and you go, Jon, this this, this really blew, this really blew me away. What was it?

Jon Clifton 19:34
Well, there were four of them. And there’s an entire section dedicated to four of the most surprising findings because we at Gallup can’t fully make sense of what they mean. And I’ll start with the first one, which is when we started tracking emotions, we knew based on previous research that you have to measure positive and negative emotions separately. Why because they measure very different things. For example, if somebody attends a funeral, they may experience especially of, you know, potentially a grandparent that died of old age, they may experience a lot of sadness and a lot of loneliness, but they actually might laugh a lot too. Because as the family gets together and remembers the good times that they had with them, they can experience positive emotions as well. So it’s really important to measure both constructs, because we, as humans, process them differently. So we started doing that. And interesting, the results at a national level were looked very similar to what the previous research said, Why? Because I was on my way to Singapore. And I started looking at our data, and I wanted to look at the positive and negative emotions that we’re tracking. And interestingly enough, I pulled up the positive emotions data and saw that positive emotions were dropping. And in fact, Singapore was reporting the least amount of positive emotions in the world. So instinctively, I thought, well, if positive emotions are going down, negative emotions must be going up. And so I looked at the negative emotions data, and it wasn’t the case negative emotions were also going down. And again, this is because both of these constructs have to be measured differently, because they don’t necessarily move together. And so we actually started reporting the data very differently. And we said, let’s look at collective emotions, who reports the most across the board and who reports the least. And what we found is, is that the country that reported the most at the time was the Philippines, followed by almost every country in Latin America. And the country that reported almost no emotions at all was Singapore. And it actually caused kind of this article to go viral. Because then people started referring to Singapore as the emotionless society, which I don’t think was necessarily fair to brand the country as because so much of what Singapore has done, is helped put together I think, one of the best run societies in the world. They excel at GDP per capita, they sell at having one of the lowest unemployment in the world. They excel at virtually everything, except on this particular indicator. But after the story went viral, and it was on the cover of the Straits Times three days in a row. And the minister actually wrote a scathing piece about it as well. But we noticed that in our following surveys, that all the indicators went up, people started feeling a lot more positive in life. And we don’t know why. And so in fact, Singapore started becoming one of the higher ranked countries in the world for positive emotions. And so it’s one of the questions that remains is why did this take place? And could it have been some sort of flaw in gallops methodology? We could certainly be open to that when somebody says, you know, we can tell you with 95% confidence about the results of our survey, what they mean is that one out of 20 times, they could fall outside of that confidence interval. So was that the case? We’re not entirely sure. But what we are interested in is what can we learn? What can the world learn from Singapore in terms of how those data changed overnight, because if it was something meaningful, then the world would have a lot to learn from on how we can all live better lives. So that was one of the top four things that was most surprising to us.

Eveline Oehrlich 23:16
Anything else? Any other things?

Jon Clifton 23:18
Well, I think, I think another one has to do with how women raised their lives around the world. Because when you look at two of the single biggest drivers of a great life, one is whether or not you physically feel safe. And in our database. When we asked men and women do you feel safe walking alone, at night, and you’re in the city or area where you live, one of the widest gaps with respect to gender is that women are just less likely to feel safe walking alone at night in their communities. And the second one is economic opportunities. We can see when we replicate employment surveys globally that women have fewer economic opportunities than men. So if you just look at labor force participation, about 75% of men globally, participate in the global workforce, and it’s 50% of women culturally, sometimes culture plays a role in that take India, for example, where it’s 75% of men and 25% of women. So there are economic and physical safety issues that are a challenge with respect to women globally. So here’s the interesting thing. When we say to women rate your life on a scale of zero to 10. Where do you stand today, what we find is that women rate their lives exactly the same as men, if anything, they rate their lives slightly higher than men. And this pattern is true. Globally, every year since we’ve been doing this tracking. It’s true in every region. And it’s true in every single country in the world and has been true since we’ve been tracking. So why is this happening? We’re not entirely sure. In fact, one of our colleagues, Carol Graham at Brookings, she’s one of the top 400 most cited female economists in the world and also wrote a white paper about this. I believe the title is something like are women happy? are the men and she to can’t quite put her finger on exactly why this phenomenon is happening. But the book goes through and I interview for leading women like Carol Graham, who focused on this to say, Why do you think this might be the case? And what can the world learn from this so that we can ultimately help people see their lives better everywhere?

Eveline Oehrlich 25:20
Great research, if you need help on that one happy to call on the IT women in the in our journey? Because I think they have something to say on this topic. Great. Okay, another question. We talk a lot about well being and you have a lot of topics in your book around wellbeing, and you discuss five elements. Can you talk a bit more about them? The Careers, social, financial, physical well being and community well being just elaborate a little bit, and then I’ll have a follow up question, particularly towards career. But if you wanted to elaborate on those five elements a little bit, that would be wonderful.

Jon Clifton 25:57
Yeah. So when we noticed that this trend of negative emotions was increasing, what we wanted to do is understand why. And so what we did is we looked at the pattern of people who rate their lives the best, and people who rate their lives the worst, and then looked at their negative emotions. And what we found is that 15 years ago, about three and a half percent of people said, my life is a perfect 10. And we found that about 1.5% said, my life is a zero, my life actually cannot get any worse. Fast forward to 15 years later. And what we found is that the people who said their life is a perfect 10, more than doubled, it’s almost 8% today, and the people who said my life cannot get any worse more than quadrupled it to is almost 8% today. And if you isolate the top quintile, and the lower quintile, you can see a pattern emerge, where the people who are writing their lives, the best, are continuing to get higher life ratings. And the people who rate their lives the worst, are rating in the lives even worse. And then when we look at the people who are rating their lives the best and the rating lives, the worse and isolate their negative emotions, we can see those in the bottom quintile who keeps saying my life is worse and worse and worse, that they are seeing the biggest increase in negative emotions in our whole database. That said, what we want to do is isolate of the people who say my life’s at 10, or my life is zero, what do they have in common, we found that those people who say my life is at 10, they oftentimes have five things in common. And this is true across the entire world, which is they have great relationships, socially, they have high social wellbeing, they live in great communities, which we call community well being. Their physical well being is high, their financial well being is strong, and they also have strong work well being. And the people who are raising their lives, the worst appear to be getting less of these five things over the past 15 years. So those are the five drivers that we identified, and that we believe are the common source of this global rise of misery.

Eveline Oehrlich 27:56
Wow, those numbers are blowing me away. 8% on the on the left hand side, say whoever miserable life to get to that point. Wow, unbelievable that I had to just sit in in awe and listen to that. That’s just unbelievable and scary to where we are. So on the pandemic, did you? I mean, we are just out of it. Right? We’ve had horrible to the whole world and a horrible two years. Did that have any impact on it at all? Do you think?

Jon Clifton 28:30
So this is why we did the book. Because when we first announced these results, we did so in what we call our Gallup global emotions report. And we launched it about midway through 2020. And when we came out, we said in our global database, we have found that there’s a global rise of anger, stress, sadness, physical pain, and worry, and everyone that we send the message to, they said, Gee, why is that a surprise? Why would we be surprised that misery has reached a new high when we are all collectively suffering from a global pandemic? And we said, You’re not listening, because the trend started before the pandemic. And that’s what’s got us concerned. And after two years of trying to reinforce this message, and also seeing that the pandemic probably exacerbated this already increasing negative emotions because of course, the global pandemic made people’s lives collectively worse. People still weren’t listening. And this is why we had a rather forceful title on the book, which is blind spot, because we believe that this global rise of negative emotions has been hiding in the blind spot of leaders everywhere.

Eveline Oehrlich 29:31
So no excuse. Because we hear that a lot when I speak to leaders, about their employees, we just think about a year. Yeah, well, you know, we understand we’re just coming out of a pandemic. So I will refer to the book and say no, not true. This is not something which just started because of the pandemic. There was a whole bunch of things already lingering and alright. We could of course go hours and hours on it, but I don’t want to take away all the findings into the Just from the book, but there’s one thing I want to hone into, which of course for us at the DevOps Institute, we are an institution with learning. We want to bring our community members together and advance their career, right? Well, we want to have fun. We also want to be their friends and they want we’re many of us are friends. But one of the things I read in the book and these numbers again, I hope you don’t mind if I quote them on the career that there is, you know, there’s 7.7 billion people on the planet, right? 5.4 billion adults 3.3 billion adults want a great job. 1.5 billion have a good job. And only 300 million have a great job. Maybe you and I are the two who belong to the 300 million because we have a great job. And for the listeners ABS hour in the background, master of podcasts, so shout out to a be amazing, only 300 million have a great job. Why is it that what, what? What’s going on in the world?

Jon Clifton 31:04
Well, we have a problem right now when we’re trying to understand the global jobs picture. Because right now, the way that unemployment is captured does a great disservice to the misery that exists in the global workplace. For example, right before the pandemic, the ILO said that 5.5% of people were unemployed, if you use that as just an overall estimate to understand the global jobs picture. Again, we know that the amount of people that are living in poverty, that does not accurately represent the global jobs picture. 5% is even what many economists consider the natural rate of unemployment. So it means that there’s no slack in the in the global jobs market. And it’s just not the case, even after the pandemic, unemployment, only rised to 6.5%. How could that be? And so the challenge with it is how its measured. And in many developing countries take a place like Nigeria, for example, right now, in a place a no excuse me, Burundi, I believe their unemployment rate is less than a percent. But think about that this is one of the poorest countries in the world. And apparently, they have kind of the most optimal job market, it’s not the case. And the reason for it is that we kind of blur the lines between this concept of self employment in the West, when we hear self employment, we think someone is self employed because of freedom, or because they want to be the next great entrepreneur that creates a multi billion dollar company. And it’s seen as a source of pride, either one for which you determined to become become self employed. But in poor countries, it’s not the case. Because people don’t. And again, other economists have said this. So I’m quoting their work. They don’t have the luxury to be unemployed. What does that mean, in many poor countries, they don’t have unemployment benefits offered by the government. So people are forced to do anything they can. And so when somebody is conducting a survey, and they say, Did you work an hour in the past week? Or did you work 30 hours in the past week, someone who is potentially selling trinkets on the street or begging, they’ll say, of course, I worked. Now, they didn’t have meaningful work. And that is a very large percent of people currently in the workforce. In fact, I believe it’s 30%, or self employed, yet half live or live under less than $2 a day. So again, this masks over the real global jobs crisis that we have. But the other piece is the misery of people who are currently working full time for a paycheck. And when somebody is totally emotionally detached from work, and they’re miserable, and it’s usually caused by their manager. They’ll take this misery to places like tick tock so when you hear about people who are quiet, quitting, quiet quitting is not a new concept. It is a new term for an old concept. But people who are quietly quitting or you know, pronouncing their misery on Tik Tok are actually doing so overtly and not so quietly at all. And their frustration is real. And this frustration is what we’ve referred to historically as active disengagement. And if you look at somebody who’s actively disengaged in their job, we find that they have the same amount if not more stress, sadness, pain, worry and anger. As someone who has no work whatsoever. This is a statistical fact. So the misery that’s currently happening even with people who are full time, employees is causing a major problem for us globally and contributing to the global rise of unhappiness. So to help curb the global rise of unhappiness, this isn’t just about sorting out issues like poverty, which it is also about helping curb the global rise of hunger. It’s also about making better workplaces because it’s causing just so much misery to people in the workplace today.

Eveline Oehrlich 34:47
Interesting. I just read some research from Gartner. They published the top five priorities for HR leaders in in organizations I think it is I think they interviewed 800 HR leaders globally, and work place happiness didn’t show up. Number one, they, the number one thing they that is good for HR leaders is to focus on their leaders and how to develop their leaders, which is good, right? Because if we have good leaders, hopefully, depending on what we mean by good leaders, but if we have good leaders, hopefully they will be able to create a workforce an environment where happiness is there and where people can thrive and where people can actually feel engaged. And that, again, brings us back to whatever else we want to do. But I found that interesting I can see you have something to say to that?

Jon Clifton 35:48
Well, I think one of the problems right now is the word happiness, because there are a lot of executives that hear that word. And it completely turns them off. Why? Because they believe that happiness at work is created by ping pong tables, right? Whose ball tables whatever. And, again, I think it has to do with the word happiness. And that’s a problem that that I am participating in. But it’s because it gets more attention, unfortunately. And the reality is, is what I think the best executives are trying to do is it’s not necessarily this sort of ephemeral, ephemeral, fleeting, or transitory feeling of happiness, what they are trying to do is create thriving workplaces, and thriving workplaces are not necessarily about foosball tables. You know, I think workplaces mean that somebody cares about your development, that you have the opportunity to do what you do best, and you have the things you need in order to do your job effectively. Those are the basic needs of people at work. And when those are met, only then can someone truly be thriving at work. And so I think that’s the distinction when we use this word happiness, if we can get an address that is more of an emotional attachment at work and just getting someone’s basic needs met, then I think, then you see the presence of thriving in a workplace. So

Eveline Oehrlich 37:09
it is, you know, I love what you said, but as an individual, if I’m in a organization, where a leader does not see that and are as many as we know, as when we know there’s only 300 million of us what really happy out there. What can I do as an individual, I walk up to my manager and say, Hey, I’m unhappy.

Jon Clifton 37:29
I think this is where leadership emerges. Because engagement and a thriving workplace is not necessarily dictated by the leaders in an organization. Now we do see some of the strongest correlations. Again, as I mentioned, 70% of the variance does depend on who you named manager. But let’s be clear, concepts like recognition, which matter in workplaces, sometimes are best not when they come from your boss, not when they come from a senior executive. But when they come from one of your peers, and when they’re random and when they are sincere. And when that takes place, engagement increases and workplaces are just fundamentally better. The other thing is, is the inner the personal relationships that exist at workplaces, one of the single things that keeps people to work place, even in some global studies more than pay is whether or not they have close relationships with their colleagues at work. This idea that, you know, we shouldn’t be friends with our colleagues at work is something that we need to end forever, because it’s just not true. We’re basically fighting human nature when we come in with that kind of belief. And we also know that, you know, when you ask adults in a place like the United States, where is it that you’re most likely to meet friends, they don’t say that it’s through a religious institution, they don’t say that it’s through the friends have their children’s friends, they say it’s at work. And these types of bonds not only keep people in their jobs, it also makes them more productive. It also creates an environment where they give more direct feedback, where they have somebody where they can have an outlet to talk about things that are frustrating them. And it also causes people to work the extra hour because they’re not necessarily doing it for the leaders of the organization. They’re doing it for each other. There’s kind of a famous study when they say that, within the military, that people in the military, they do join, to fight for their country to fight for their loved ones. But when they fight, they do it for their brothers, they do it for the other individuals within the military. There are parallels to that in the workplace, that the reason that we stay the extra hour is because we have a close relationship with those that are that we’re working with. So I do think that creating thriving workplaces is not necessarily a role of the leadership, the manager, there is a huge role the individual contributors can make

Eveline Oehrlich 39:58
Beautiful, just one more thing and then I know we need to go. This reminds me of my first position. I just finished business school in Germany. And I started you at Hewlett Packard. And this was a time where Dave and Bill were still there. The founders of HP. They came around to us in the town in Germany, and the culture at the company was fantastic. We love each other. We, we care for each other. And this might not be politically correct, but I’m going to say it anyway. Hewlett Packard at the time was known as the best marriage advice company, you found your partner there? I did. I found my husband, I moved with him to the United States in 1986. It was just a wonderful place. And because of that, we worked hard. We were engaged. And when you were just saying that that’s exactly what made me think of, I stayed there forever, until I left in 2006. Imagine 1983 until 2006. I worked at one company at multiple jobs, but I loved it. It changed in the in the latter years because they had some challenges. We won’t go into that right now. But exactly that feeling I had when you were describing that super. Okay, we have taken so much time of yours have one more question for you. That has nothing to do with your research. What do you like to do on the weekend?

Jon Clifton 41:22
I read a lot on the weekends. And I also spend time with my wife. And so it’s a great boost for work well being and also for social well being so yeah,

Eveline Oehrlich 41:34
Super Jon, this was wonderful. Thank you so much. This was a really, really great conversation. I hope our listeners out there enjoyed. To learn more about Gallup, it’s easy to find, go look at www The book, the blind spot is out can be bought can be read. There’s many, many other resources blogs, there’s lots of research coming up. This was fantastic. Have a great rest of the day everybody listening and Jon, wonderful to have you if you ever need anything on DevOps, reach out to us. We’re happy to hear. We’re happy to help you on on it or if you want to do some joint research, happy to work together. Thank you again.

Jon Clifton 42:16
Awesome. Thank you everyone and thank you AB for having an interest in what we do.


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