Matthew Phelan: Happy employees are in a growth state where they can access all parts of their brain system to be creative and ultimately innovate

Matthew Phelan: Happy employees are in a growth state where they can access all parts of their brain system to be creative and ultimately innovate

Should companies invest in employee happiness? What are the costs of not doing so, and how should they create a happy environment for people? Matthew Phelan, Co-Founder of The Happiness Index and author of "Freedom To Be Happy" has the answers. Or, at least, he is conducting neuroscientific research to find them. The Happiness Index is a digital platform based on neuroscience whoch helps organizations to find out in real time what their employees feel, think and behave. The platform is available in Romania through the exclusive partnership with Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services, the market leader of employee benefits services.

Matthew has had an interesting career path, from working on a farm to founding a digital marketing agency and to studying happiness in the workplace. Motivated by the desire to better understand the culture and what connects us, he has created a platform where employers find resources – backed by science – to improve employee happiness.

In the context of The Great Resignation and the “quiet quitting” trend, it’s maybe more important than ever for companies to pay attention to the well-being of their teams. We had the opportunity to talk to Matthew about his research and findings during Bucharest Tech Week, where he participated next to Sodexo, his exclusive partner in Romania. Read below and explore happiness – it may lead to more creativity and innovation.


Your story 

My career started working on a farm and my first venture outside of that was founding a digital marketing agency called 4Ps Marketing when I was 25 years old. We started 4Ps in an attic on Wimpole Street in London and went on to service over 100 brands, such as Selfridges, M&S, Nissan, and L'Oréal before exiting the business via a trade sale.

My desire to better understand culture and what connects us became part of our founding story of The Happiness Index.


Top 4 drivers of employee happiness. And a surprise

The top 4 drivers of employee happiness are psychological safety, feelings of acknowledgment, freedom to take opportunities and positive relationships.

Feelings of acknowledgment have the highest variation in the data set of all the key drivers meaning how you should acknowledge employees differs greatly from person to person.


The importance of The Happiness Index, delivered in Romania exclusively by Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services

Listening to your employees is the starting point to improving employee happiness. The cost of not doing this is disengaged employees, high staff turnover, low performance and ultimately lost business revenue and profit.

Our Employee Engagement and Happiness platform is underpinned by neuroscience. Every survey question is tagged with a neuroscience theme. You can find the factors your people need to thrive at work. All our pre-built surveys measure how your people feel and behave in real time, from the day they start to the day they leave.

Our platform guarantees continuous and flexible feedback, while protecting your people’s privacy and safety.

It is important to use this platform to get the best out of your people. The companies active on the Romanian market can access this tool through our exclusive partnership with Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services.


The link between happiness and innovation

Happy employees are in a growth state where they can access all parts of their brain system to be creative and ultimately innovate.

My book „Freedom to Be Happy” highlights the business case that happy employees are more productive, sell more, are more creative and ultimately create more financially successful organizations.


Happiness, from theory to action

It is a two-way street. Organizations can create the right environmental factors for happiness to grow but employees need to grab that opportunity to thrive.


Post-pandemic state of mind

During the pandemic the data showed for the first time that family was the main factor in making employees happy and unhappy at exactly the same time. As we have moved out of the pandemic, employees value flexible work environments so they build a career but also balance that with a healthy homelife.


Happiness at work. How about at home?

If you are happier at home, you will be happier at work. If you are happier at work, you will be happier at home. Both factors flow both ways and the research we have learnt can also be applied in your personal life.


Are you happy with your work?

I am happy if I don’t need to choose between being a good Dad and a good CEO. Sometimes this comes into conflict, but I work hard to make sure those situations are rare.


Write one short message on a billboard in central Bucharest


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