There is a great deal to be said about city rivalries. Most countries have a city that people have a love-hate relationship with: New York, Toronto, Berlin. For the most part, it is the largest cities in a country which rank as arrogant, cold or unfriendly - among those who do not actually live there!
In Switzerland, that city is Zurich. Take a tram during morning or evening rush hour: You will likely encounter a lot of straight faces buried in free newspapers, or eyes stuck to smartphones. One word that does not come to mind in all of this is happy.
But then, as you look down at your Twitter feed, you realize that Switzerland is the third happiest country in the world! Ask anyone outside of Zurich and they are sure to say that they are very happy - but they don't think people in Zurich are. But why is happiness important?
When Life Stops Being Fun
Ernest Hemingway once said that when you stop doing things for fun, you might as well be dead. As we know, the famous writer took his life on July 2, 1961, when life stopped being fun for him and instead became a constant worry. Earlier this year, life and work became too much of a struggle for former Swisscom CEO Carsten Schloter, causing him to prematurely end his life.
How Many Hours do we Work?
Fun and happiness are logically connected. When we are having fun, we are happy. In today’s busy world, we are working more than ever before, and many of us are asking ourselves: “Why?”
Let’s calculate the average amount of time a Swiss person works in their life:
More than 20% of our Waking Hours
So we spend more than one-fifth of our lives at work, and yet about 15% of people are not satisfied with their work in Switzerland.
In comparison to the USA and Canada, Switzerland has it good. In those two countries, over 60% of employees are dissatisfied with their work.
According to the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA), two factors driving the Swiss satisfaction at work are the feelings of job security and having a say in decision making. Yet, even the Swiss numbers are deceiving: While satisfaction might be high, engagement is low with 70% feeling rather disengaged at work.
There is also the unfortunate repercussion of this trend, receiving a fair amount of press: The burn-out syndrome. Even in German, the English term has become part of standard business talk and costs the Swiss economy 7.8 billion francs a year according to SECO.
Welcoming the Inspire925 Conference
With the idea of helping companies tap into their full potential by increasing worker happiness, Sunnie Tölle has founded Inspire925. It has been proven that satisfied and happy employees work better and produce more innovation. So instead of being reactive, Inspire925 seeks to be proactive.
Firms with happy and engaged employees show 22% higher profits, 16% better job performance, and more commitment to the company. For these reasons alone, companies should ensure that their employees are happy and engaged.
The First of Many Conferences
Is your company engaging you? Does your work inspire you, make you happy and lead you to be innovative? Whether your answer is yes or no, you will surely find the Inspire925 conference to be very interesting as prominent speakers from the World Economic Forum, Google, Johnson & Johnson, as well as the University of Zurich provide insights and strategies on how to increase work satisfaction.
The conference will start on the evening of Friday, September 20th, at the HUB Zurich, with a screening of the documentary film HAPPY.
Following will be a question and answer session with the producer, Eiji Han Shimizu. The conference will be a great success and plans are already being developed to make this an annual event featuring speakers who provide insight into the phenomena of happiness and employee engagement.
Switzerland is a Great Place to Launch
I believe that Switzerland, thanks to its physical size, population, infrastructure and economy, is well positioned to be a model country for the future of global business development. With sustainable projects and businesses like Inspire925, and the adoption of their prescriptions to increase employee engagement, Swiss firms can demonstrate a good company culture that will hopefully spread back to North America and other countries.
In a world which is quickly realizing that a country’s true wealth does not lie buried under its soil, but in the minds of its people, companies and countries that can best address these needs stand to reap the greatest rewards.