CNBC make it 2024-06-12 13:03:56

The No. 1 benefit that keeps people happy at work, says exec in Finland

Finland is the happiest country in the world, and at one Finnish company, worker happiness comes down to one major benefit: flexibility.

That’s the case at Framery, a manufacturing company that makes soundproof pods for office spaces. Every year, the company surveys its roughly 400 employees about the most important things that keep them happy and engaged at work.

The concept of work-life balance is always No. 1 or No. 2, says Anni Hallila, Framery’s head of people and culture.

And in order to provide that balance, she says company leaders actively support flexibility in their employees’ work schedules and break times.

“It’s completely normal that you can mix your personal life and work life” in how you structure your workday and workweek, Hallila says. “If you need to take your kids to day care in the morning, you can start your day earlier, or you can come later if you need to go home for them in the middle of the day.”

The Framery office doesn’t have set hours, she says, but people generally arrive between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and are gone by late afternoon. “It’s normal to leave work at 4 o’clock,” she says.

By law, Finland’s standard workweek is 37.5 hours, but as Framery leaders see it, employees can work with their managers to figure out how that breaks down each day.

On the rare occasion that someone’s schedule is negatively impacting their team’s work, Hallila says it becomes a conversation with their manager to make adjustments.

Otherwise, “you can do six hours today, eight hours tomorrow, and that’s completely fine,” Hallila says. “We give a lot of freedom for people to balance their overall work hours. We trust that they will do the work. That’s the most important thing, that they will get things done. It’s not about the hours — it’s about the results.”

Leaders also support regular breaks throughout the day. For example, Hallila says staffers are encouraged to take an hour-long break once a week for exercise, whether it’s for a walk or to use the company’s onsite gym.

“If someone goes out for a walk during the workday, we don’t think ‘oh they’re slacking off or being lazy,’” Hallila says. “It’s really that they’re taking care of their focus and being smart about how they balance their mental health.”

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Nvidia CEO never has one-on-one meetings—unless someone specifically asks: ‘Then I’ll drop everything’

Jensen Huang doesn’t schedule one-on-one meetings with the people who report to him — but that doesn’t mean he has no time for them.

The billionaire Nvidia CEO and co-founder revealed that aspect of his managerial style during a talk at Stanford University in March. Huang said he has a management team of 55 people, all directly reporting to him — in a structure “designed for agility, for information to flow as quickly as possible.”

That means no unnecessary meetings, including regular check-ins with direct reports. “Unless they need me,” he said. “Then I’ll drop everything for them.”

Plenty of CEOs have go-to tactics when it comes to meetings. Steve Jobs was a fan of walking meetings. Jeff Bezos has espoused many ideas over the years, from banning PowerPoints and always speaking last to encouraging “messy meetings,” where people can bounce ideas off each other without a set ending time.

“When I sit down [in] a meeting, I don’t know how long the meeting is going to take if we’re trying to solve a problem,” Bezos told the “Lex Fridman Podcast” last year. “The reality is, we may have to [let our minds] wander for a long time … I think there’s certainly nothing more fun than sitting at a whiteboard with a group of smart people and spit-balling and coming up with new ideas and objections to those ideas, and then solutions to the objections and going back and forth.”

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In Huang’s case, scheduling 55 recurring one-on-one meetings could fill up a calendar quickly. That might pose a logistical problem for the head of the world’s second-most valuable public company. On Wednesday, the chipmaker central to the rise of artificial intelligence eclipsed Apple in market cap, ranking behind only Microsoft.

Instead, he and his executives communicate enough throughout each workday to stay on the same page without needing meetings, he said. The approach even extends to performance reviews, he added: “I write no reviews for any of them. I give them constant reviews and they provide the same to me.”

A fully booked planner carries psychological ramifications, too, Yale University psychology professor Laurie Santos said at SXSW in March. The dread you experience when you feel like you’re too busy is called “time famine,” and it can lead to low productivity, poor work performance and burnout, she said.

To fend it off, Santos suggested going through your to-do list and figuring out which items don’t actually need to be scheduled. She also advised consciously celebrating your time savings, like the minutes you regain when a phone call ends early or the hour you get back when someone cancels a meeting.

“I think we feel strapped for time because we think working … as much as we work all the time is essential for achieving the things we want to achieve in life,” Santos said.

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Top 10 countries where workers are thriving most, according to a new Gallup report

Most of us spend the majority of our waking lives at work, so it’s no surprise that our jobs can have a big impact on our overall mental health and wellbeing.

While work can add stress, sadness and anger to our lives, some also find fulfillment, purpose and happiness through work.

According to Gallup’s 2024 State of the Global Workplace report, 34% of survey respondents globally say they are “thriving” while 58% say they are “struggling.” Some 8% of those surveyed globally admit they are “suffering” at work.

Those who are thriving report “significantly fewer health problems and less worry, stress, sadness, loneliness, depression and anger. They report more hope, happiness, energy, interest and respect,” according to the study, which is based on overall life evaluation, which combines respondents’ perceptions of where they stand now and in the future.

The study sought to assess the mental health and wellbeing of employees, and measured engagement through positive experiences like thriving and enjoyment, as well as negative experiences like stress, anger, worry, sadness and loneliness.

The Gallup World Poll surveyed the world’s adult population across more than 160 countries and areas around the world. The data for this report collected in 2023 included results from more than 128,000 employed respondents.

Here are the 10 countries with the highest proportion of people who say they are thriving, according to Gallup’s study.

  1. Finland: 83%
  2. Denmark: 77%
  3. Iceland: 76%
  4. Netherlands: 71%
  5. Sweden: 70%
  6. Israel: 69%
  7. Norway: 67%
  8. Costa Rica: 62%
  9. Belgium: 60%
  10. Australia: 60%

European countries dominated the list with seven making the top 10. The region recorded the lowest percentage of employees who said they were “watching for or actively seeking a new job” and the second lowest percentage of employees who are “experiencing daily sadness,” according to the report.

Notably, Europe also recorded the “lowest regional percentage of engaged employees,” coming in at 13%, but the region is known for its strong labor protections, the report highlighted.

In contrast, the U.S. ranks lower on labor protections but higher on employee engagement, according to the study.

“People often contrast Western Europe’s ‘work to live’ culture with the United States’ ‘live to work’ mindset,” according to the report. Ultimately, “engaged employees in countries with substantial Labour Rights laws have the strongest emotional health.”

Australia was among the top 10 with 60% of respondents who said they were “thriving,” and 21% said they were engaged at work. In Costa Rica, 62% of respondents reported that they were “thriving,” while 34% said they were “engaged” at work.

Israel also made the list as an outlier in the Middle East and North Africa region. The broader region recorded the highest percentage of employees “experiencing daily stress,” with 52% of respondents reporting this, compared to 39% in Israel.

Asia lagged behind, but these are the top 10 in the region where the highest percentage of respondents said they were thriving:

  1. Vietnam: 51%
  2. Taiwan: 41%
  3. Singapore: 39%
  4. Thailand: 37%
  5. Philippines: 36%
  6. China: 36%
  7. South Korea: 34%
  8. Malaysia: 31%
  9. Japan: 29%
  10. Mongolia: 29%

“When employees find their work and work relationships meaningful, employment is associated with high levels of daily enjoyment and low levels of all negative daily emotions. Notably, half of employees who are engaged at work are thriving in life overall,” according to the report.

Additionally, “when managers are engaged, employees are more likely to be engaged,” according to the study. “In best-practice organizations, three-fourths of managers are engaged, as well as seven in 10 non-managers.”

The responsibility doesn’t solely lie on the employee — it is also up to the organizations. When companies instill the necessary labor protections and hire strong, engaged, and well-trained managers, engaged employees can thrive both in the workplace and in life.

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92-year-old just became one of America’s richest self-made women—she’s worth $700 million

Joan Payden is one of America’s richest self-made women. At age 92, she’s also one of the oldest.

Payden is the CEO of Payden & Rygel, a Los Angeles-based money management firm she founded in 1983 after quitting her job and emptying her 401(k), according to Forbes. Today, the firm manages more than $161 billion in assets and nearly 240 employees across multiple offices, according to its website.

Payden’s assets have grown with the firm: As majority owner, she boasts an estimated net worth of roughly $700 million and is a “newcomer” on Forbes’ recently published 2024 list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women.

Payden’s path to success spanned multiple decades. After majoring in math and physics at Trinity College in Washington, D.C., Payden became one of just a handful of women engineers at a New Jersey-based company building oil refineries in the 1950s, only to fall victim to a mass layoff after three years, according to Forbes.

Disappointed, she regrouped — looking to the financial sector to put her math background to use, and landing a junior associate role at Merrill Lynch. “I was hired at a 25% discount because I didn’t know the difference between a bond and stock,” Payden told the Los Angeles Times in 1999.

Within a couple years, she moved to Los Angeles to join Scudder, Stevens & Clark, a prestigious money management firm. After multiple attempts at a promotion, she became the firm’s first-ever female partner. She failed at least one of those attempts because she “didn’t play golf” at an annual meeting on a men-only course, Payden told students at Notre Dame in 2011.

“They held their annual meetings at a very large, prestigious golf course and they, of course, wouldn’t let women in,” said Payden. “So, I sat on the porch.”

Perhaps due to experiences like that, Payden said she never wanted her gender to define her career: “I am either a good financial advisor or not. I am not ‘a good woman financial advisor,’” she told Trinity’s alumni magazine in 2013.

By 1983, she was wary of becoming stuck “in the same place” for another decade and decided to strike out on her own, she told the Notre Dame students. She recruited her colleague Sandra Rygel to join her, cashed out her 401(k) for an undisclosed amount of seed money and formed Payden & Rygel.

At the time, Payden wasn’t entirely convinced the move would pay off. “There are always worries. When I set up the company, I worried I wouldn’t get clients,” she told The Los Angeles Times. “But that was no problem.”

Since then, she’s built her firm into one of the largest private money management firms in the U.S. Her former employer Scudder, Stevens & Clark was acquired by Swiss insurer the Zurich Insurance Group for nearly $1.7 billion in 1997

Payden’s advice to would-be entrepreneurs who are unsure about taking a big leap: “When you jump in the lake, you can’t think about drowning,” she told Trinity’s alumni magazine, adding that she had no regrets. “At the time, and certainly it is clear now, the risk of ‘not doing’ outweighed the risk of ‘doing.’”

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People’s last words are often these 4 phrases: What they teach us about being happy, from an oncologist

Everyone’s life is different — yet most people still utter one of four common phrases on their deathbeds, according to Pulitzer Prize-winning author and oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee.

Each of the phrases offers an important lesson for leading a fulfilling and successful life, Mukherjee said during a commencement speech at the University of Pennsylvania last week. “Every person that I’ve met in this moment of transition wanted to make four offerings,” he added.

The phrases are:

  • I want to tell you that I love you. 
  • I want to tell you that I forgive you. 
  • Would you tell me that you love me? 
  • Would you give me your forgiveness?

People who know they’re dying often express some variation of one of those four themes — indicating that they waited until it was late to show their appreciation for others or right their interpersonal wrongs, said Mukherjee, author of the award-winning 2011 nonfiction book “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.”

Instead, they harbored grudges, lived with unresolved guilt or spent years being too afraid to be vulnerable, Mukherjee explained. The ensuing remorse, stress, poor mental health and even hormonal and immune imbalances can stunt your personal and professional growth, neurobehavioral scientist J. Kim Penberthy wrote in a 2022 University of Virginia blog post.

“Love and forgiveness, death and transition. Waiting [to express yourself] merely delays the inevitable,” said Mukherjee, adding that young people should “take this seriously. You’re living in a world where love and forgiveness have become meaningless, outdated platitudes. … They’re words people have learned to laugh at.”

Coming to terms with the fact that you’ve wronged or hurt someone can be difficult. Try following these four steps, recommends Richard Cowden, a social-personality psychologist with the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science:

  1. Take responsibility for your actions.
  2. Allow yourself to experience negative feelings, like remorse and guilt.
  3. Give a sincere apology and try to make amends.
  4. Learn from the experience and move on.

“It’s uncomfortable to admit you’ve done something wrong, and it’s natural to protect one’s self-esteem by dismissing what happened or making excuses for your behavior,” Cowden told Harvard Medical School in 2022. ”[But] it can free you from your past mistakes and help you live more fully in the here and now. You might be surprised how much better you feel if you can work through the process of forgiving yourself.”

You can also show appreciation for people by speaking their love language: Take your partner’s vehicle to the car wash without them asking, or surprise your mom with flowers. Go out to dinner with your friends or give someone a hug. Simply say, “I love you” or “I appreciate you.”

Just make sure you actually mean words like “love” and “forgiveness” when you use them, said Mukherjee.

“I dare you to use these words,” he said. “But not as empty clichés. Imbue them with real meaning. Do it your way, whatever your way is.”

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