Once, I had to interview 40 “bapaks” (an Indonesian term for men in their 40s and above) on a one-on-one basis, within a day.
It was one of my roles as a freelance Business English tutor in Jakarta, which included me having to interview students (working execs) to suss out their fluency level, before placing them in the appropriate classes (for e.g. Pre-Intermediate/ Advanced level).
Now, this was for one of the largest construction company in Indonesia, who had help build the country’s most prestigious luxury office/residential/retail spaces.
As I was given the freedom to conduct the interview however I wanted to, I decided to ask these bapaks simple questions such as: “Describe your role.” and “How long have you been working for XXX Company?”, and somehow from that question, they spontaneously started opening up and talking about how they were really happy with the company.
That intrigued me, because from where I come from in Singapore, people were always complaining about their jobs, gossiping about people in the office, occasionally faking illness in order to take medical leave, etc.
So I decided to ask them WHY they liked (or even loved) their job, and this is what I learnt:
Factors that contribute to Workplace Happiness
(and thus a low attrition rate in the company):
When people feel that they are learning
When people have friendships within the company
When people feel that their opinions are valued by the management
When people feel that there’s fairness in the company; i.e. they are compensated fairly, there are no favoritism, politics and corruption.
When people like what they do
On the whole, these guys talked about the company offering them L&D (Learning & Development) courses, developing friendships not just within their team and across departments as well, having their suggestions heard, considered and implemented by the management, and feeling the satisfaction and fulfillment from having their ideas implemented; they also talked about how they appreciated integrity as practiced in their current company, unlike in their previous companies - a few opened up to me about their internal struggle between religion/moral values vs. duty to their bosses who practiced workplace corruption. Many were open to admit that they were paid compensated well and fairly, even though hours were long and they did not get to see their family from time to time as they had to often stay on-site to ensure project completion. And all of them said that they enjoy and like what they do.
Note: These are senior managers who have been in the company for at least 10 years! The majority of these guys have been with the company for more than 15 years, and this is not their first company, which meant these guys have had job experiences in other companies to compare with.
Whilst this ain’t a formal social experiment, it was a decent-sized informal focus group.
Also, don’t the above make sense? When you think about the time when you were happy in your company, weren’t these also the factors that contributed to it?