Integrating Employee Involvement tools to achieve GNH in business

The 7th International Conference on Gross National Happiness (GNH) concluded on Thursday in the capital. The theme for the event was, ‘GNH of Business’ which was proposed by His Excellency Dasho Tshering Tobgay during the 6th International Conference on GNH held in 2015 in Paro to develop alternative business model to integrate GNH values into the decision-making processes of business. The conference was also held in celebration of the 62nd birth anniversary of His Majesty The Fourth King.

Prior to the conference, a book called ‘Proposed GNH of Business’ was also launched which will function as a GNH certification tool for assessing businesses. “While GNH has largely focused on the sphere of public policy, we are now integrating GNH values into the decision-making processes of businesses. Business companies that qualify will be awarded the GNH Certification as an incentive which will also serve as a powerful brand that carries the impact of GNH,” said His Excellency Dasho Tshering Tobgay during the Singapore summit on September 16 when he first announced the launch of GNH certification tool for business.

Speaking at the inauguration of the conference, His Excellency Dasho Tshering Tobgay said, “The business world holds tremendous power with huge impacts, and it has become critical for it to change its vision by embracing societal wellbeing, in addition to profit making.”

Lyonchhen also added that the GNH certification tool for business, through the GNH indicators would measure the commitment of business firms to behave ethically, motivate, and take into consideration the happiness of their employees as well as that of their customers, community and society and at the same contribute to the sustainability of the natural environment.

“I expect the Royal University of Bhutan to develop a curriculum on GNH business for its affiliated college and train a generations of young Bhutanese leadership with GNH values. Similarly, we need to introduce GNH values into national curriculum so that we not only produce GNH leaders, GNH workers and consumers, but also more importantly GNH citizens,” said Lyonchhen.

The conference was attended by 177 participants from 29 countries from diverse business groups who shared their views on the possible ways of embracing and implementing GNH values at work place, promoting business integrity and ethics, and achieving the desired target of employee’s wellbeing and happiness apart from always being profit oriented. The event also saw the attendance of hundreds of Bhutanese audiences. More than 60 innovative leaders who are experts in integrating GNH values in business spoke and shared their ideas to the audiences.

A speaker at the conference, Claire Brown, professor at the University of California, Berkeley presented on using Employee Involvement (EI) tools to achieve GNH in business. She said that the although the  goal of GNH in business is to integrate welfare of the workers, community and environment for long-run into business, the problem with many of the business entities is focusing on the short-run profits with unhealthy business ethics. So for that she proposed Bhutan to experiment with Employee Involvement team to see if they can integrate GNH indicators into operations to use the knowledge and experience of the employees to improve the performances of the companies in the market place and be part of the GNH certified business by incorporating the tools of Employment Involvement teams. “Employment Involvement teams will solve operational problems, design better products, and promote the health of the employee and get better of all the trainings that they have acquired over the years,” said Claire.

She also presented on the potential effectiveness of Employee Involvement through the findings undertaken on the matter. Japan’s use of Employee Involvement teams in automobile industry demonstrated how workers use their knowledge, skills, and experience to advance their company’s performance and is said to have increased the workers’ engagement and initiatives.

An important part of the Employment Involvement process, the presenter pointed is on the job-training of the workers where they learn hands-on skills from each other and the experienced workers mentor and train the new ones. “So when the Employee Involvement team makes improvement, come up with new ideas, or integrate GNH into the work process, they think creatively to move into the future and further the company,” said Claire Brown.

The conference was organized by the Centre of Bhutan Studies and Gross National Happiness with financial support from the Royal Government of Bhutan. The Centre for Bhutan Studies which was established in 1998 is a social science research institute which conducts inter-disciplinary studies on Bhutan for advancing its social, cultural, economic and political wellbeing.

The next International Conference on GNH will be held in University Technology MARA, Malaysia.

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