MEC Aims to Inspire Talent Through “Happiness” Course
April 8, 2013
This past fall, MEC piloted a six-week training program, led by Helen Mumford Sole, an experienced executive coach and happiness expert, to teach employees skills and techniques to increase their levels of happiness. Born out of the staff’s receptivity to an introduction of the ‘happiness’ concept, MEC partnered with Sole to create and test a curriculum allowing employees to develop, both personally and professionally. The course explored various facets of happiness from positive psychology, medical research, quantum physics and Eastern mysticism to the extensive world of the self-help movement, with the goal of cultivating employees’ happiest selves. Some participants witnessed increased levels by as much as 32 percent by the end of the course. Follow-up courses are already being scheduled.
“In my experience, happier people have the ability to achieve extraordinary things in both work and in their personal lives. Our objective at MEC is to help our talent reap the benefits of a happier, more positive mindset, so that all our employees are equipped and empowered to achieve their goals,” said Marla Kaplowitz, CEO of MEC North America. “This is a people business. And we feel strongly that MEC’s talent and culture is very distinct and very powerful. We call it MECness. I am thrilled to extend this training as part of the agency’s ongoing commitment to talent development and training, both personal and professional. The launch of this program has already shown concrete signs of driving success for the agency, and across our clients’ businesses.”
All MEC employees were encouraged to complete the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire – considered the ”gold” standard for measuring happiness—prior to the start of the course to help determine who would benefit most from the course. Enrolled participants took the questionnaire again at the end of the course. Every single attendee was happier at the end of the course than they were at the beginning; one participant’s happiness level revealed a massive 32 percent increase, with another three showing above 20 percent. The average happiness uplift for the entire class was 12 percent. Additional insights include:
- 100% of participants found it useful or very useful
- 100% of participants enjoyed it very much or a lot
- 100% of participants would recommend this to their friends
Helen Mumford Sole commented, “Happiness is not something we’re born with and can’t change: it’s something we can manage, cultivate and develop just like any other skill. Working with the team at MEC was highly successful, and I noticed significant changes in moods and stress management during our six weeks together. I look forward to continuing this journey with MEC.”
Happiness has been highly researched over the last decade, showing strong evidence of the causality between employee happiness and successful business outcomes. In a meta-analysis of 225 academic studies, researchers Sonja Lyubomirsky, Laura King, and Ed Diener found strong evidence of directional causality between life satisfaction and successful business and personal outcomes, and that happy employees have, on average, 31 percent higher productivity, 37 percent higher sales and their creativity is three times higher. Furthermore, Gallup reported that lost productivity due to employee disengagement costs more than $300 billion in the U.S. annually. Actively focusing on employees’ overall happiness can effectively improve an individual’s confidence as well as productivity both in and out of the office.
The “Happiness” course is part of MEC’s overall philosophy to inspire and support its talent by offering unique cultural and wellness programs. Other agency initiatives under this umbrella include: Vision Boarding , a class that encourages individuals to visualize their personal and professional dreams; People’s Choice Awards, an internal awards competition celebrating outstanding work from across North America; Inspiration Lab, a monthly review of inspiring work from across the agency ; MEC Spirit Week, a weeklong themed event that actively engages and excites employees; as well as events such as the City Harvest Food Drive and Red Cross Blood Drive that motivate employees to make a difference in socially responsible ways.