Contentment Capital


There are more opportunities for work and that means companies need to offer much more than ping-pong and health care.

Mirriam-Webster describes contented as feeling satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation. So why should any CEO care if her employees are content?


Amongst all the hub-bub of business model innovation and the internet of things the bottom line is that the most astute executives are paying mind to employee contentment because they know it is the fuel that will make future waves.

From gripes of Millenial entitlement to baby boomers choosing to work past retirement, discussions in business circles about the changing attitudes of workers are coming to a boil. A new epoch in work is here and it’s driven by one trend: the stratospheric rise in the demand side of the job/talent equation.

Supply and demand, the classic economics model, aptly applies. Talent sponges like Facebook and Google have made top performers a scarcity in hot spots like Silicon Valley. What’s worse (or better, maybe), demand is seeping across the porous borders of geography, language, and currency to satiate its need. Need proof? Look at the emergence of talent micro-markets like oDesk, and e-Lance. There’s even a micro micro-market in DeveloperAuction where coders put themselves up to bid and only get shown the very best offers.

If there are more offers and opportunities for work, both on-site and remote, full-time and contract, that means companies need to offer much more than ping-pong and health care. Not only will more people be poached, most won’t even consider an offer for less than six figures.

Even in the best of cases there are systemic issues arising, and the companies not acknowledging that work is changing are hurting from increased turnover, shorter tenure, and increasing recruiting budgets. Not to mention departments that could be much more productive. See my piece on re-thinking productivity.

Contentment capital is all about the value created for an organization by cultivating satisfaction in the workplace. It sounds simple but there are many influences on a human’s sense of well-being. (We call our framework the 5 P’s of culture management, but that’s just one way to look at it.) It may feel overwhelming, but don’t fret, this isn’t just one quarter’s initiative. Like any behavior change program to be successful one has to consider the farthest horizon. A diet isn’t about the next 30 days, but about a system of behaviors that will set a person up for success for the next 30 years.

Cultivating contentment capital is a long-term investment in your business. Sow the seeds of a carefully considered workplace culture today and you will find that tomorrow productivity will flourish fed by the waves of employee productivity and investment.