Profits, productivity and the pursuit of happiness

Tue Feb 3, 2015 4:28am EST
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By Carmel Crimmins

DUBLIN (Reuters) - There isn't much time for self-reflection when you are advising on company takeovers but at Irish corporate law firm William Fry they are giving themselves some serious thought.

In between drafting contracts and negotiating deals, over 70 of the firm's partners are mapping out how they spend their time, from meetings with clients to games of tennis with friends, and then considering how engaged they were at each activity.

The analysis, charted using an online app, is part of a nine-month program that aims to help leaders identify what they enjoy and excel at so that they can focus on those activities and become more engaged and motivated in the process.

"The program is not about eliminating weaknesses and things that you are not good at. It is actually focusing on the things that you are good at and emphasizing their impact in your life," said Shane O'Donnell, head of William Fry's corporate department.

"There has been an immediate and very positive reaction from participants."

Increased competition for talented staff, technological changes and an influx of people aged between 20 and 32 -- often referred to as Millennials -- into the workforce have prompted companies to think afresh about how to motivate their staff, particularly in the wake of the financial crisis.

"It's not like you work 9 to 5 and then you leave your work at home. Given technology and given the evolution of things, work and life are not separate anymore," said Tal Ben-Shahar, chief learning officer and co-founder of Potentialife, which developed the program used by William Fry.

"People are not just looking for meaning at home and on Sunday but they are looking for meaning from work too. People are looking for much more from their lives. This is a real need whether you are working in shipping or in high-tech."   Continued...