What I Do Well + What is Useful + What I Love = Happiness at Work

In: BlogDate: Oct 22, 2020By: Billy Burgess

When Laurence Vanhee joined Belgium's Ministry of Social Security, the department was struggling to recruit Belgian citizens to the civil service and simultaneously losing 40% of staff to retirement. Social Security is essential, especially in a country comprising two very distinct groups. So Laurence and her colleagues set out to change the laws in order to gain more flexibility, attract newbies and retain people.

In this two minute clip from the 2018 Happy Workplaces Conference, Laurence outlines how the Ministry circumvented traditional HR practices to focus on what staff did well, what was useful to the organisation and what they love to do. 

Hi, we are Happy

We are leading a movement to create happy, empowered and productive workplaces.

How can we help you and your people to find joy in at least 80% of your work?

More about Happy

What I Do Well + What is Useful + What I Love = Happiness at Work

We get rid of HR policies. You are requested to let young people evolve. To do so, we give you a dictionary of competencies and a job description as well as a cartography of available jobs and taxonomy of the functions - plenty of exciting tools! I say, please, this is again bullshit from HR. Let them play with that at the Ministry of HR. What we will do is the three potatoes. We are Belgian, we love fries, so potatoes.

First potato is: find the answer to what I am doing well. You have to ask feedback from your own colleagues, your own boss, whoever you are working with.

Second question: in my job, what is useful to the organisation? Because there are plenty of people who do the stuff nobody cares about really well.

The third potato is: what do you love to do? Because if you do well something that is not useful, this is a hobby. This is entertainment and maybe it’s not during the working hours that you do that. If you do well something which is useful but you don’t like it, this is a job. This is only a job and what you can face is routine, demotivation, problem of quality, and you get in trouble. Your potential, your development plan is there, but it’s useful.

Something I love to do and I don’t do it well - this is something you have to invest in young people, not in a dictionary of competencies. Please stop with that. If you want to make young people happy, you put them there, they do what they love to do and which is useful to the organisation, and they will calculate the happiness at work. This is so easy, but it’s not easy to find the right answer.

There are many restrictive laws and regulations in Belgium, conceived by people with no comparable experience to those affected by the laws. This is echoed in the HR policies of government ministries. Laurence named her solutions to these bureaucratic barriers “the three potatoes.” 

Number one is to “find the answer to what I am doing well,” she says. Not via introspection – that’s not the most reliable road to self-evaluation – but by seeking feedback from colleagues, bosses and anyone else you’re working with.

The second potato is the question, “In my job, what is useful to the organisation?” People might excel at things that have no tangible impact on the organisation’s effective functioning, but what are they doing that people genuinely care about?

And the third potato is all about what you love to do. “If you want to make young people happy, you put them there, they do what they love to do and which is useful to the organisation, and they will calculate the happiness at work,” says Laurence. “This is so easy.”

Related resources

Keep informed about happy workplaces

Sign up to Henry's monthly Happy Manifesto newsletter, full of tips and inspiration to help you to create a happy, engaged workplace.

Sign up here

Happy Manifesto book cover

Learn the 10 core principles to create a happy and engaged workplace in Henry Stewart's book, the Happy Manifesto.

Download your free eBook

 

About Laurence Vanhee

In 2010, while in charge of HR at the BE Ministry of Social Security, Laurence changed her job title to Chief Happiness Officer. Her goal was to nail happiness at work to sustainable performance. It was based on a basic summation: happy people perform better, making it a win-win framework.

Next Conference: 2023 Happy Workplaces Conference

Our Happy Workplaces Conference is our biggest event of the year — and we're excited to announce that it will be back for 2023. Save the date for 15th June 2023!

Due to the success of previous years, we will be holding this event online via Zoom. As always, this event will include lots of discussion and interaction, with the opportunity to meet others who are on their journey to create happy workplaces.

Our speakers will be announced early next year. Previous speakers have included leadership gurus Tom Peters, David Marquet, Liz Wiseman and Bruce Daisley — as well as Andrew Barnes, author of The 4 Day Week, Helen Sanderson MBE, Professor Donna Hall CBE, and Pim de Morre of Corporate Rebels. We've had speakers from organisations such as John Lewis, WL Gore, Buurtzorg, Woohoo inc, Propellernet, Mayden, Next Jump, Foundation SP, Epic CiC, the National Audit Office, and more.

Use discount code EarlyHW23 at checkout to receive your Early Bird discount for 50% off.

Find out more and book your place