What makes people happy at work

Mathilde Collin,

CEO & Co-founder at Front

6 May 20220 min read

Every Monday morning, we have a company all-hand meeting. The last part of the all-hands is “Mathilde’s Musings” where I share something that’s on my mind. I’ve decided to publish some of these musings in case they’re helpful to others!

Every Monday morning, we have a company all-hands meeting. The last part of the all-hands is “Mathilde’s Musings” where I share something that’s on my mind. I’ve decided to publish some of these musings in case they’re helpful to others!

Musing from January 14th, 2019.

“There’s a question that I get asked often, for instance in 1:1s, so I figured I’d take the opportunity to address it in front of everyone. The question is:

  • What do I fear most in terms of Front’s culture?

  • Sometimes it’s phrased in terms of: is there a risk in having “Work happier” as our mission?”

It’s a good question because I do see a risk, and that’s what makes this mission interesting. The risk I see is that people don’t understand that it’s part of their job to contribute to the mission. That they misunderstand “work happier” and interpret it as: Front will make me happy no matter what, or then it’s failing at its mission.

There is some ambiguity in our mission, and that’s not the case of every mission.

For example if we were a research lab, and our mission was: “we want to cure cancer by 2025”. Everyone at the lab would understand that their job is to actively contribute to that mission; and conversely, if we didn’t cure cancer by 2025, it would be both a failure for humanity, for the company, and for the people involved.

“Work happier” is ambiguous, but the reason why it immediately resonated with Laurent and I. There are 2 parts to this missing

  • The customer part of “Work happier”: we’re creating a product that people use many hours a day, that make them more productive, more engaged. Information will be less silo’ed and that will lead to people being happier at work.

  • The internal/employee part of “Work happier” is what i’d like to talk about today. the risk as I said is for people to get complacent, thinking that they’re entitled to this happiness at work. it’s a risk because that’s not how you become happy.

On the topic of happiness, I’m always reminded of this study that compared the level of happiness of people who just won the lottery, and people who got seriously injured following an accident. Right after their lives changed, one group would report super high happiness and the other would be super low. But over time, the 2 groups would revert to a mean until the crazy thing that had happened to them no longer mattered to their happiness. The way I see it, it teaches me that happiness has less to do with what happens to you, what’s given to you, and more to do with what you make of it, what odds you overcome, what you accomplish.

So what does it mean for you? I’m convinced that happiness at Front will come from what you overcome, what you accomplish, from your impact. It’s much more about what you will give and invest than what you will receive.

To improve my green card application I’ve been studying US history and a quote that resonated with me is from John F Kennedy’s speech:

“My fellow Fronteers, think not what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company”

As long as we’re all aligned on that I don’t think there’s any inherent risk with our company’s mission.”

Written by Mathilde Collin

Originally Published: 14 January 2019

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