Social Investment#5 of a series — More about the Happiness Advantage

Positive relationships in the family business are a factor in both success of the business and level of satisfaction at work.  And strong social relationships affect all parts of life… not just business.

Psychologist Shawn Achor cited in his study, appropriately titled “Very Happy People,“ that there was one — only one – characteristic that distinguished the happiest 10 percent from everybody else. It was the strength of their social relationships.

Daniel Goleman reported MIT researchers found that employees with strong ties to their manager brought in more money than those with only weak ties.  These employees bested the company average by $588 of revenue each month.  (2)

Gallup asked ten million employees around the world if they could agree or disagree with the following statement: “My supervisor, or someone at work seems to care about me as a person.“  Those who agreed were found to be more productive, contributed more to profits and were significantly more likely to stay with the company long-term.“

George Vaillant, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, is a respected researcher, a psychiatrist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and a professor at Harvard Medical School.  He conducted a study titled “Aging Well“. (3)  Vaillant concluded that after 70 years of studying these men, the evidence overwhelmingly pointed out that one’s relationships with other people matter more than anything else in this world.“

John Cacioppo (4) concluded from more than thirty years of research that lack of social connections is just as deadly as certain diseases.  People with few social ties were two or three times more likely to suffer from major depression than those with strong social bonds.

When we blend all of this information into a package, it is clear that positive relationships in the family business — what Achor calls “social investment“ — are a factor in both the success of the business and individual level of satisfaction.

As the Beatles wrote, with a help from Joe Cocker, “I get by with a little help from my friends.“

Achor has some suggestions for us when it comes to building relationships.  While his data is generic, it relates to concepts I identified more than twenty years ago in my work as a family business consultant, when I compiled the 10 Keys to Success in Family Business. (5)  The concepts address the importance of building and maintaining relationships in family business.  It is as if family members have a “relationship bank“ into which they must make deposits.  Then, as they work together and eventually face difficult or stressful matters, they can draw upon those deposits to help them through whatever the relationship challenge might be.

In my next post, I’ll summarize Achor’s suggestions for building good working relations to help your family — and your family business — succeed.

  1. “The Happiness Advantage“ by Shawn Achor, ISBN 978-0-307-59154-8
  2. Goleman, D. (1998) Working with Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam
  3. Aging Well, © 2002 by George E. Vaillant, M.D. ISBN 0-316-98936-3 Little, Brown & Co.
  4. Cacioppo, J.T. (2008). Loneliness; Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection. New York, W.W. Norton
  5. Bork, D., (1991), Nation’s Business, “10 Keys to Success in Family Business“

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