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WGT: Increasing employee retention by using culture-fit in hiring with Aoife O'Brien [transcript]

Updated: Aug 26, 2021


How much does it cost organisation when an employee leaves due to poor culture fit and what can they do to avoid this problem? Aoife O'Brien from Happier at Work talks about the importance of company culture in driving retention.

Aoife O’Brien is a Happiness at Work expert. Her mission is to help organisations to increase employee retention by using culture-fit in their hiring decisions. She is passionate about ‘fit’ and specifically how creating the right environment can help individuals to reach their full potential and support organisations to thrive.

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Well hello there boys and girls. Have you ever wondered what can organizations do to avoid losing people after investing in their training and development? And actually how much money do they lose? Well, part of the answer is finding a better match between people and organizations based on culture fit.

In this episode, I'm talking to Aoife O'Brien from happiness at work. Her mission is to help organizations to increase employee retention by using culture fit in their hiring decisions. She's passionate about how creating the right environment can help individuals to reach their full potential and support organizations to thrive.

She helps HR and business leaders to make data-driven decisions with a specific focus on values, needs, and strengths. We covered the importance of company culture in driving retention direct costs of losing an employee, engagement at work and burnout, and is money a motivator or de-motivator. Enjoy.

Lech: [00:01:03]

Fantastic to have you on the show. I'd like to start off , very to the point, I guess, how would you describe what you do?

Aoife O'Brien: [00:01:31] I suppose for me, it boils down to creating happier workplaces. So I want to help organizations to create happier workplaces where people will want to stay longer. So helping organizations to use data, to drive retention, essentially. But. But let's not forget the individuals as well.

So helping people to navigate their own careers, I think is really, really important to help them to understand themselves and to make better career decisions.

Lech: [00:01:57] And when you say you use data, what type of data is it? And kind of, how can it inform the kind of the decision-making process in culture and organizations?

Aoife O'Brien: [00:02:06] Great question like people, data, I think it's still relatively new open researching and looking into it for probably the last six or seven years at this stage. So for me, I kind of feel like. Not that I, not that I know at all, but I feel like I'm like that people know all this stuff already, but they might not.

So for me, there's a couple of different elements to it. There's the, the HR data, the people that we have already on people. So things looking at absences, looking at turnover, looking at tenure look, you know looking at the different levels, looking at gender within organizations, as well as looking at salary data, looking at promotion data, looking at managers, who, who is your manager and do some managers promote longer tenure for example, than others?

Or is there a red flag within some managers where if someone is managed by them, that they, then they leave the organization within a year, for example. The other side is both tailored solutions using validated surveys around things like looking at intention to turn over and looking at engagement, but the lever is behind that.

So thinking about things like the values of the organization, the needs and the strengths. So whether people have the opportunity to really exercise their own values in that organization, whether or not their needs are being satisfied and whether they get to use their strengths. So there's, there's other elements as well, but that, that would be a key area of interest of mine.

Lech: [00:03:34] Am I right in thinking that this is what you wrote your masters thesis on recently?

Aoife O'Brien: [00:03:40] Exactly. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So the research I did and this, this kind of stems from experiences that I've had at work and this, you know, these experiences that I've had at work led me on this path. I feel so about 10 years ago, I had a specific experience. I was working in an organization. They made a lot of promises.

They didn't deliver on those. When I speak to people, they're like you were completely mismanaged and, you know, I'm, I'm kind of wanting to take responsibility for my own part in this. So I never saw it that, that I never saw it that way, that I was completely mismanaged. But when I look back at it, I absolutely was, but this put me on this path and I kind of got to think in a, like, how much money did that organization lose by me leaving within less than a year and a half of working for them, where they were being, paying me a big salary.

They obviously trained me and it took me time to get up to speed with their systems and how they do things. They sponsored me as well. Cause I didn't have a visa to live in that country. And so there was all of these factors that contributed to, you know, that's, they invested a lot of money in me. And in order for me to be a return on investment, if you like, I left in less than a year and a half because of what happened.

And so that got me thinking on the one hand, what can organizations do to avoid these types of situations in the future? And what can people as individuals do to navigate their careers better, to make better decisions for them, where they're going to feel somewhere where they feel. Really like they're valued that they that they're working to their strengths, that they have opportunities within that organization to grow and to really hone, you know, to really hone their strengths and to really work to their full potential.

And I suppose a similar thing happened to me a number of years later. It just reinforced that message of like, how, how, how does this keep happening and how, how can we. Help people too. Find better matches between people and organizations. And, you know, if you, if you should take, if you're to look at stats, for example, from Gallup, they say only 15% of people globally are engaged at work.

And us to me is a shocking statistic and you'll, you'll kind of meet anecdotally people who are happy at work and you'll meet people who are kind of miserable at work and medieval also meet people who. Don't expect to really be happy at work mean. I suppose for me, that prompted me then to do this research.

I think I've gone on a bit of a tangent now, but it prompted me

Lech: [00:06:15] Go on. It's a beautiful tangent. I'm not going to, I'm sitting quietly. I'm not going to interrupt you. I'm making notes of questions that I want to ask you based on that, but do rant Tom. on.

Aoife O'Brien: [00:06:25] And so that led me to this research. I spoke to one of the lecturers. I explained the experiences that I had had at work. And she said, Oh, that sounds like a fit issue. And I thought, Hmm, what's that? So I started researching that and any papers that I had, where there was kind of a. A vague sense of a, you could choose your own topic.

Then I, I absolutely chose to do this concept of fit. So I started doing my literature review. I looked at all of the literature to do with fit. I started narrowing down some of the questions I have, and ultimately I landed on looking at the relationship between person, environment, fit, and someone someone's intent to turn over on their job satisfaction.

But how that relationship works through this concept of self determination theory, which is three of our basic universal psychological needs of autonomy, relatedness, and competence, and how that, how that sort of impacts on the relationship, if you like between fit and job satisfaction and attached to turnover.


Lech: [00:07:29] Right. Is that, is that, is that it?

Aoife O'Brien: [00:07:32] the, what I did my research on.

Lech: [00:07:35] No, I didn't wanna interrupt you. I thought you'd just go and, you know catching your breath before, giving us some more fantastic arguments. There is genuinely a lot of stuff that I'd like to get in there and. One thing that you said at the very beginning was the cost of getting things wrong and losing people and not having the culture.

Right? This is something that is so very difficult to measure in the way or represent or make companies realize it because it's one of those things that's taken for granted where people leave people come and go fine. True. But trying to convince organizations and leaders within organizations of the importance of culture is very difficult.

Mostly because eight, as I said, it's difficult to measure and two is because whatever you invest now, it's not going to reap the rewards in the week and a month for next quarter. It's probably a matter of years before things get better. And that's why we often kind of take and just go like, yeah, yeah, we'll do it next week.

That type of attitude. Have you arrived at any type of forgave discovered any type of figure of what the costs usually are of getting culture wrong?

Aoife O'Brien: [00:08:41] I, I absolutely we have, but I'd love to kind of build up towards that argument. So you were saying that, you know, it's kind of expected that people come into organizations and there's a level of turnover and what, what does that actually look like? And I think there's a perception as well with the younger generations that they enter the workforce and.

They'll probably stay in an organization for two or three years and that's it. And there's, you know, that there's no thing that you can do about it. That's just how things are. I, I would disagree with that now. I don't have anything to back up my disagreement, but I just, I think that they demand something more from work.

And if they leave within two or three years, it's because they're not happy where they are and you need to do something about that. On the other hand, you were, you were mentioning about. Is there a way, and it is very difficult to measure the direct cost of losing an employee. There are ways to do that though.

And if you think about what are the factors involved. So if you lose someone, there might be a gap in that team. So you lose some productivity. You need to potentially, you definitely need to invest time in trying to replace that person, but you might also need to hire an external recruiter to replace a person as well.

Depending on how long it takes to hire the person back up could extend for longer. When you do hire a new person, it might take them a number of months or even a year to really get up to speed on what's going on in the business, or really start to give back to that business after the initial training and finding their way with clients and with their teammates and things like that.

So the research kind of, it varies in terms of the, the amount of that that would cost a business. But one of the solid numbers that I have seen is 200% of that person's salary. So if you imagine someone is earning a hundred thousand euros, so you've got to edit an executive, who's earning a hundred thousand euros a year.

If they leave the business, that's costing that organization 200,000 euros. You know, it's, it really is. And that's just one person. It's an incredible amount of money, but there are ways to calculate what that number is. And I think maybe that's where an organization should start by looking at. Okay. So we lost that person.

How quickly were we able to replace them? How much time and energy did we invest? Like kind of even just doing a rough calculation for one person within your organization to really get a grip on what, how much is this actually costing our business? I was just chatting to a client there this morning.

And she was saying that the team is growing and they're looking to double the number of staff that they have within the next few years. That's what that's brilliant. And she was saying that they just hired eight new people, but then when she looked at the numbers, they actually lost six people in that same time.

So obviously that's having a knock on impact on their ability to be able to grow the team. And so what was. What started as a conversation about, well, how do we hire for this very specialist role? Because there's very few people out there who can do it turned into more of a, I think we have a retention issue and we need to really address that.

So sometimes when we think that there's a specific issue, it might turn out to be something else, but also you can use data. To put real numbers on that. So as an HR person, if you need to take those numbers to define on this team, to the CEO, you can actually back it up with solid numbers and say, we need to really work on our retention here because when we lose someone it's actually costing us, you know, it could be 50% of a person's salary, or it could be 200% depending on the organization.

Lech: [00:12:25] The reason I asked that question of whether it can be quantified quantified is because I often find that this is, this is my attempt to, to speak many organizations, that language, and that's how often you can get. People's attention to address a problem. And by no means, do I think that is what should be motivating us to change our motivation within organizations change or change organizations?

It should be because we want to make things better. We want to keep people within organizations. We want them to develop because the organization's going to develop as a result. And I often find that when there is. A repetitive problem and a repetitive issue within an organization, whatever it may be might be to do with potentially people leaving in general or trust issues or projects completely continues to being delayed so on and so forth, whatever it might be.

If you can't put your finger on it. My opinion, nine times out of 10, it's the environment issue. It's the, it's a, it's a culture issue. And what goes with that along is of how do you get people within organizations and the fit into the culture? You've mentioned the younger generation that comes into and is that the expectation is that they will stay two, three years and they'll they'll bugger off go somewhere else.

Yes, some will, but there are ways. And you know, there's, there's this millennial question. The millennials are so difficult to please are they, maybe that's probably a topic for a completely separate podcast on its own, but then it's the, it, it represents a fundamental difference of what people expect from jobs.

These days gone are the days where people turned up to work, just expecting a paycheck. There's a lot more that we want from our jobs, this satisfaction it's being listened to. It's being trusted to do their jobs and be able to realize your potential. And actually, I don't remember where I read this, but there there's there's this argument that one of the main causes the main cause of burnout at work is not work being overloaded with work, but the lack of opportunities for. Self-development and development in the role within the organization. I found that very interesting.

Aoife O'Brien: [00:14:28] That is very interesting. Yeah. I mean, My understanding. And I've seen a couple of arguments for this and against this is the burnout is up the other end of the scale to engagement. So if you're highly engaged in the work that you're doing, if you get a sense of purpose sense of, you know, if you're really absorbed in that work, if you, if you feel a sense of vigor while you're doing that work, if you get into that state of flow, then you're less likely to burn out from doing that work.

But if you're not engaged and you just got loads and loads more work, and you're getting a little bit overloaded, Then that's when you feel this sense of kind of burning edge, but like there's loads and loads of different. Elements. There's loads of different research on this. And I wouldn't say that I'm an expert, but that is what I understand it to be.

And I, I'm always interested to hear more about it because I think especially now in the day of COVID where most people are working from home and it's really difficult to establish those boundaries between work and home life, because you are working at home and you were living in your office and you're.

Probably schooling children at home. I know in Ireland at the moment, a lot of my friends are trying to manage home homeschooling on top of their workload as well, which is quite difficult.

Lech: [00:15:42] Well, I got that when I read that and I'm actually surprised I couldn't piece it together in the first place, because it's from a book that I mentioned so often to people that you'd think that I've actually either co-written it, I've got some interest in promoting that book. It's called an everyone culture and it's a fantastic book.

I'll include the link in the notes. I'll send you the link as well as, so you can have a look. And that's where I got that quote. That's kind of the, the argument from, and I'll have to go back and see what exactly kind of, they don't re I don't recall it, the engagement being mentioned, but it's probably somebody, but, but it does make sense that it is the, the, the opposite.

Okay. We talks about, we talked about culture fit. You mentioned the quite a lot. That's a potential way that would help us address some of these problems. Let's start at the very beginning. What does culture fit even mean?

Aoife O'Brien: [00:16:34] Oh, that's a great question for me. You know, I get challenged on this sometimes where people say, Oh, we don't say culture fit anymore. We don't say culture match, or we call this culture matter. We, we don't say fit anymore. We say culture add. And to me, it's. It's all the same, you know, and I don't mean to be flippant about that.

I need to say that finding the right person for the role for the team, for the organization, if they could be an addition, or they could be someone who just fits in to that scenario. So, so for me, it's, it's finding that right person. Maybe there's a few different right. People, but it's based on a number of different factors.

And the crucial thing for me is the values piece. When an organization has very clearly defined values and those values are lived within the organization. And that's how decisions get made to me. That's what the culture is. And so when you hire someone it's really important to make sure that their values aligned with those values of the organization.

It's also important in my view to find people who don't just think like you, who, who think a little bit differently and who can bring something additional to the table. So I always talk about values, alignment, and diversity of thought. I think those two things are really, really important for finding someone new and for finding someone that fits in your culture.

Lech: [00:18:00] I'm glad you mentioned that because the, the counter argument that I often come across to culture fit is that it's a way of hiring somebody. Someone we'd like to grab a drink with after work and or somebody who's got is very similar to ourselves in terms of kind of attitude and things like that, which.

Can lead to lack of diversity, I believe. And you will then, if you, if you scope that out, as you said, that there are different people can do the same job, they might not be exactly the same as us, but that's potential advantage of the situation because they will notice things that we don't notice because they will see things in a slightly different light and have different experiences providing we align on the most fundamental aspects of what we believe in.

Then at least we know that we will, although we might disagree and fight at times, at least we are fighting and arguing in the right direction. If that makes sense, if you, because you starting from the same, from the same point,

Aoife O'Brien: [00:19:01] Yeah, totally agree with what you're saying there and like, Yeah, it's part of the research that I did. So some of the other papers that I read, one of them was one of the kind of fundamental papers let's say in the area. And he did specifically talk about what you want to avoid is hiring the same people.

Like that's the assumption is that you hire people like yourself because they, you get on well with them and they fit in, in your organization. When I talk about fit, that's not, that's not what I mean at all. And it is, it is crucial in my view to find that diversity piece, to find people who think a little bit differently than you do in that paper, the guy's name is Schneider.

In that paper, he talks about companies becoming homogeneous. And that's how, you know, you, you become stagnated. You can't actually compete with your competitors because everyone in the organization thinks the same way. There's no fresh thinking. There's, there's, there's limited innovation within the organization as well.

And I just thought that's it's it's so, it's so crucial. It's so interesting. I think, to do that and exactly right about. Being able to welcome that kind of diversity of taught and welcoming new views and new ideas. But you also mentioned about conflicts now. I, again, it's not something I've researched a huge amount, but I do know for sure that there is a level of healthy conflict within an organization that will actually help.

The organization to grow and to become more innovative. If everyone just goes along and agrees with whatever one person brings to the table, I think it's not, that's not conducive to growth either.

Lech: [00:20:41] I think when we need to have that. Cause as say, if you've got, everybody's thinking the same thing, there's no freshness of ideas and the fresh, fresh thoughts coming, coming in, and that can be detrimental to any organization. And. I'm trying to think of some other examples, because we do have some idea though, in terms of conflict, the conflicts bad, first of all, it's not, it's constructive.

Conflict is very, very good passive, aggressive conflict, not exactly. But then we also have the culture of feedback of being able to tell people certain things or the worst. One of all, I think is the, the idea that we need, what not that we need, what consensus means.

Aoife O'Brien: [00:21:23] Oh, interesting. I'd love to hear more about that.

Lech: [00:21:27] Because I think consensus a lot of people understand consensus, everybody agreeing, which is not true.

You have to have a kind of majority or a certain group of people will have different opinions, different views if you wait for everybody to agree with you. Moving any task, any project, any product further down the line, it's just going to take forever. So you will have, you have to accept the fact that people will disagree with that.

But guess if you're driven by the right values or by whatever values you've got, that will deliver something. And those people will either come on board sooner or later, all you'll just disagree. That's that's

Aoife O'Brien: [00:22:02] Or they leave because their values don't align and you should have hired someone who has values that are aligned to begin with. And I think it's really important. Like, you know, what you're saying is gathering consensus to let's say, deliver a specific product. In my view, it's. You know, when I've been in so many meetings where you're just, you're talking about nothing, really people are bringing stuff and they're sharing it, but there's no decision-making power within those meetings.

And I think if you assign one person to be responsible for something and hold them accountable to that responsibility, then things will move a lot more quickly. So they're not looking to get approval from someone else. They are. They're taking the ultimate ultimate responsibility for getting that off.

You know, out into the world, they might need input from other people and that's fine, but ultimately they are the ones that need to make that decision. And once the decision is made, they need to be held accountable to whatever outcomes they have associated with that.

Lech: [00:23:01] Very true. I don't want to go on a tangent about meetings cause you did. Anyone mentioned meetings is a, there's always a risk that I'll go off on a, on a, on a rant.

Aoife O'Brien: [00:23:10] This meeting could have been an email.

Lech: [00:23:13] Precisely. One of my favorite ones is to remove all the chairs from the meeting room. That's one of the most efficient ways to make a meeting efficient as well.

It doesn't exactly work on zoom. That's the only problem. So that's only work works if you're back in the offices,

Aoife O'Brien: [00:23:26] Yeah. If everyone on zoom could just remove your chairs. This meeting would go a lot quicker.

Lech: [00:23:31] It would it's it's it's funny, but yes, you're right. It could have been an email and yes, the problem with the meetings, isn't, it's not meetings that are an issue. It's bad meetings. It's meetings without agenda it's meetings, without a person who can make decisions, as you said, or without a end result of next steps or whatever that might be.

That's the problem. And I'm very much against these types of meetings. But it's just so prevalent in organization in many organizations that we actually don't realize how much of a problem it is. And I was talking to somebody the other day and they mentioned that they used to, they found that somewhere on the internet, a website where you just put in.

A kind of rough time of the meeting, how much salaries people's salaries and so on, so forth. And it gives you a figure of an accounter of how much every second, every minute of that meetings. And he would put it up on, on the screen in the meeting. It was a bit,

Aoife O'Brien: [00:24:24] So we've, we've just spent 12 times on euros now. Oh, look, it's gone to 13,000 euros, 14,000. Yeah. I can imagine.

Lech: [00:24:32] Would you actually talking about money because you mentioned that could completely go in sideways from the meetings aspect. Would you say that money is a motivator or de-motivator?

Aoife O'Brien: [00:24:43] Oh, that's an interesting question. So a lot of the research I did was around needs and I didn't specifically look at the need, pay as a need from the research that I have done and from my own perceptions on my own knowledge, what I would say about money is pay people enough to take money off the table.

So pay people. Enough so that they don't feel like they're being hard done by, in some way that it's fair relative to industry standards relative to other people in the organization. And that someone feels like that they, that they're valued within the organization as well. Having said that some people are, so I guess I spoke about the kind of three universal needs of autonomy, relatedness and competence.

Some people have unique needs. Or, sorry everyone has unique needs, but some people will have a unique need for things like status and power and money. So people might be really, really driven by money. Personally. I am not driven by money. Pay me enough money that it's inline with with. What I should expect in, in the wider market, if I were to go get a job elsewhere, but also in line with what's being paid internally in the organization, so that I'm not getting paid grossly more than other people that are not getting grossly paid less than other people who are in that organization.

I mean, other seminar kind of bond or level and within that. So that, that would be my view on money. And in relation to meetings on if there are people listening, I think it's, it's up to each of us to take personal responsibility. If you're invited to a meeting and you don't see an agenda in advance, or you're not really sure why you're being invited to that.

Like so many people complain that they're in back-to-back meetings all day. What if you don't, if you don't complain to the right people, or if you don't raise that issue with the right people, then you have no one to blame, but yourself. So don't, don't look to, to place a blame externally, try and do something about it.

Try and raise the awareness. Don't wait for someone else. Don't wait for your leader for your manager, for your supervisor to make those changes, take responsibility and start speaking up about those kind of things.

Lech: [00:26:59] Absolutely taken ownership of and dealing with the problem. Couldn't agree more in terms of the, the, the money that you mentioned and the needs. I think that's a very much deeper analysis of, and, and the way of looking at the situation. And they'll really like that. The reason they've asked that question is because I do wonder that a lot of the time that happens and I think it can be.

A de-motivator on, on a F kind of far more or overall basis, because it can create situations where people want that and chase that and chase that money. They get it. And then it's, it's not enough. It maybe doesn't meet, meet their needs and so on and so forth. And that

Aoife O'Brien: [00:27:38] you're always chasing more and more. So you reach a certain level and then you're going for more and something else that you've. You've triggered a memory for me now. And there was a study done on this, where they offered, or they invited people to clean up a park. Let's say there was a rubbish around a park and they invited people to clean up that park.

And there was one cohort of people that they didn't pay any money to that they did it for free. And there was another cohort. Where they pay them, like kind of a nominal amount of five-year euros. Let's say, I can't remember the exact figures, but the ones from the ones who they didn't. Pay any money to got much more job satisfaction from it because the reward was carrying out the work and doing the work.

And the ones who got paid five euros were kind of like, well, that wasn't really worth five euros. Like I would've, I should've got paid much more for, for that work that was involved. So it brings it back to this idea of intrinsic motivation and what really drives us internally. And it's this, you know, It does form part if they said needs.

So the autonomy relation has competence, but then other things like having meaning or having a higher purpose or feeling like you're contributing to society in some way, you know, they're the things that really motivate us and it goes back to pay people enough. So that money. Comes off the table that it's not offering negotiation, that they're happy enough with what they have, but where they feel motivated to do the job.

It's not like you were saying at the start, it's not, they're working for the paycheck. They're working to feel this sense of meaning, of higher purpose of contribution. You know, those kinds of things are what really drive people at work.

Lech: [00:29:23] Money is an element. It used to be a big part many decades ago. Now it's an element and I have the belief that especially if you adopt the attitude, as you mentioned to pay enough, so that money is not something that is being discussed, then will people be looking even more beyond that into the job in terms of job satisfaction and development that they get within the role and how they agree with the mission of the organization, the values within the organization as well.

And then when another job comes along or they're being headhunted, they'll probably have a far more difficult decision to make because they're, they won't be motivated by money. And if somebody just offers them more than they will kind of go, yes. But I might be getting more money. In my bank account every month, but will I be getting all the other elements of the people who sit next to me and have my back when things are not going right?

The atmosphere and will I believe in the mission of the, of the organization or have the right readers leaders around me?

Aoife O'Brien: [00:30:20] And I've made those decisions in my own career in the past where you go after the money, instead of whether you really align with the values. And it's such, it's such an easy mistake to make. I think. In choosing salary because that's so tangible. The other stuff is so much as an individual and making a career decision.

It's so difficult to put a value on that. But I think once you've been in an environment where it's really toxic when you've been in an environment where it's really positive and really brings out your best. I think it's a no contest. And if those, if those two organizations pay the same, or even if the one with the positive environment paid less money, I think people will be more likely to stay.

And you know, they, there is research out there. And again, I can't recall exactly where I read this, but it said something like that 80% of people will be willing to take a 10% pay cut, to move to a different company that had where they didn't have to deal with their manager anymore. You know, that's. I think that says a loss.

Lech: [00:31:22] That it does say that that that's law, I think important to stress that money is important. I'm pretty certain you were on the same page here that we're not vilifying motivation going for money because money is important to organizations to grow and continue developing. But it's also very important to individuals.

You've got, we've all got families, people that depend on us and we will live a certain quality of life. So of course, As I said, money's important, but it's by an element of the whole package. And that is something very, very important

Aoife O'Brien: [00:31:54] Yeah. I think it's I suppose I've learned a lot more about money and money mindset in the last number of years since setting up my own business, because I think it is, it is a mindset and, and whether you're born with it or whether you learn these specific behaviors around money, I tend to be very strongly a saver.

I tend to save a lot of my money and I have this kind of philosophy of save more than you need and spend less than you have. And that's my philosophy around money. Oh, there's my reg thought I don't spend enough money. You know, that I should spend more money. And this lady, Gretchen Rubin, she talks about happiness habits.

She's an author based in the States. She talks about spending edge and she tends to have the same attitude toward as all you do towards money. And. You know, like sometimes you just got to spend out, sometimes you just got to spend that money. So different people, I think have different attitudes towards money.

And I totally agree that once you have that base level of this is the kind of lifestyle that I would like to have. Then once you reach that fan, I think money becomes less relevant and, and. I suppose, and they don't, they say something like, and there are studies to back this, once you go above 70,000 euros per year, then the, the beneficial.

Are the benefits of additional money are diminishing, but I saw something that came out just a few weeks ago that said, of course, you know, another study has come back to say, that's not true that actually the benefits are increasing. So I think it really depends on what your attitude is. If you have that need.

Then maybe that's something that, that needs to be satisfied in you, or it could be a need for status or power or recognition and how you see recognition and status and power is earning more money.

Lech: [00:33:44] I think it's definitely the latter, as you said, it's so individual to one person, 70 grand might be more than enough. And beyond that, they don't think about it for other people. Might not, it might not be enough because they don't get their needs met. Their lifestyle doesn't fit into that and all the, the status and the power that comes with it.

So I would more side on with the, with the argument of the AIDS dependable on, on the individual of how, how, how they. Utilize that money. I'm a minimalist by nature. And I'm very similar in that respect that I believe that I, what I want to spend money on the things that will give me joy I'll spend money on.

And yes, sometimes I will hesitate and kind of feel a little bit guilty, but that passes providing because I don't spend money Willy, Willy nilly on, on, on frivolous things. But sometimes yes, you want to do that? You've got the right. You've earned it. And there's no point in, you know, stashing it away for, for another date rainy day.

Absolutely. But you know, just use that, enjoy it, live your life. But there's, there's a, there's a difference in, in the mindset because that's kind of, I've assessed my needs on the why, what I want to get out of it. And, and that's kind of how I go about it. We've. Talked about a few things and I'd like to bring us back a little bit to culture fit again.

Or in general kind of company culture. The question I'd like to ask a lot. A lot of people that I talk to simply because I find the definition of company culture being so individual to everybody. And I'm staying, trying to, trying to figure out why that is. But maybe that's phone the phone at the time, but I'd like to find out what is your definition?

What is your understanding of company culture?

Aoife O'Brien: [00:35:22] To me, it kind of ties in with what I said earlier. It's it's how decisions are made and how behavior is in an organization. And I think it's, that's what it, to me, that's what it boils down to. So on the one hand, if you say we value equality and we value fairness and things like that, but actually that's not being demonstrated.

That's not how decisions are being made within the organization. Then that's. That's kind of a mismatch that's to me, that's a toxic culture. Cause you're saying one thing, but you're actually demonstrating another. So for me, the culture really is about the behaviors and decision-making processes in an organization.

Lech: [00:36:00] I'm more and more starting to see it as a mindset of the people within organization, rather than it just being a. Some sort of semi tangible thing within the organization. That's why I like the expression of I think it's Seth Godin, who said, people like us do things like this and that covers a lot of values behaviors and a lot of things.

And that's the, that's the thing that I'd like to probably explore it a bit, a bit a bit more further down the line, any particular. Resources tools that you use places that you go for, for knowledge, that people could check out and find useful on this topic of culture, fit company, culture, values, everything we discussed today and more.

Aoife O'Brien: [00:36:49] Good question. I don't want to try and think, like, I, I did a lot of research in my academic journals when I was doing my research. I find them a bit academically. If, you know what I mean? They're, they're inaccessible to the masses. And what I suppose, what I would like to do is bring research, backed data, backed information to directly as the hands of people who need it and who will use it and who will take action on.

You know, behind it, because certainly when I was studying the prior to studying, I'd love to reach in reading the Harvard business review. I used to read a religiously, absolutely loved it. And having done the, the masters. Now there's a bit of snobbery on, on my part, but you know, when I was doing the masters that was perceived as being, it's not re it's opinion piece rather than.

Necessarily research backed. So anything that is research backed, I think is really, really important. If people want to access stuff, I think just, just. Throw it into Google throw it into TEDx. There's nothing wrong with Harvard business review. I think it's, it's very accessible to people. I get a lot of my information from books as well.

I read 58 books last year. I love to add resources through my, through my own podcast and through the books that I read, I do kind of summaries of the books on my website as well. And so people want to connect that way or to find out more information. They're very welcome to do so. And my website is so happier at work is all one word. And then dot ie is the domain for Ireland.

Lech: [00:38:22] To put you on the spot after those 58 books that you read, first of all, congrats, that is an amazing amount of books in a year. What's your top three. If top three is difficult to pick, at least what's the, the, the, the favorite one or the one that you quote and recall and go back to most.

Aoife O'Brien: [00:38:40] Do you know what? Because I read 58. I really am on the spot now. And I'm like, what do I actually read? And. I'm trying to think of, like, I have a book here in front of me. I probably didn't read it last year. It might've been the year before called crucial conversations, which I think is really important.

Being able to have those crucial conversations, you need to have those conversations all the time and not just in working, you know, you will have those conversations elsewhere as well. Let me think of another book. I read squiggly careers as well, which is interesting and more told, say from the individual perspective that.

Our perception is that schools that our career is going to go some sort of a straight line trajectory when actually it's all bought. And, you know, I include myself in that description as well. Do you kind of think that you're just going to go on this line, but actually you get, you get waylaid by other projects, you get waylaid by other opportunities that you take on board and.

You know, you might have to start from the bottom then when you discover what you really, really want to do. So that was that I thought that was an interesting concept as well. Oh, another really great one was called. Let me try and remember the name it's by the Arbinger Institute. So they didn't even put an author on it.

They just said that they, the and I'm about to start reading actually one of their follow on book from that I'm trying to. Do you know what I'll, I can't remember the name of the book, but I will send it on to you after, so you can put a link in the show notes, but basically it's it's and it's very related to culture and it's it's, it shows it's a fable based book and it shows how.

The importance of company culture can drive retention. It can drive huge amount of growth in a business and create a really, really positive work culture as well, and where people want to work there. But people take personal responsibility for themselves rather than assigning blame elsewhere. And they look to, to kind of understand each other and to work really well together.

Lech: [00:40:48] That's great. I'll gladly include in the notes in house. We'll be pointing people and myself to your website to just look through your, your booklets from last year. Have you got any exciting projects? Anything you're looking forward to in the next few months?

Aoife O'Brien: [00:41:01] Do you know what? There's a few things. I'm always the kind of person I've gone. I've always got loads on. I've always, I like to keep myself busy. So a few things coming up, I'm doing some talks on imposter syndrome, which is another area that I speak at an awful lot about imposter syndrome. Is that feeling of kind of self doubt, but you're going to get found out by the talent police or whoever it is.

Yeah. And somehow you don't deserve the achievements that you've got and you put it down to luck or to chance, you know, they didn't have anyone else. So I'm doing a few talks on that coming up, what I would like to start doing, which I haven't started yet, but I have it in my, in my notes to do this year is my own research.

So carrying out research on areas that are of specific interest to me and sharing the results, you know, just kind of doing it. Through LinkedIn and sharing the results and the findings that I got on the back of that, and then something else. And we sorta talked about this at the start. Didn't go into a huge amount of detail.

Is this area of people analytics. So how can smaller businesses and medium size businesses. Better use data that either they already have, or how can they use surveys more effectively to, to essentially to build a better culture and to drive retention in their organization. So they're the kind of the big things that I have come in.


Lech: [00:42:20] And where can people connect with you? Follow what you're up to. And most of all, learn from you from what you do.

Aoife O'Brien: [00:42:28] Absolutely. So you can search for happier at work podcast, which is where I have it. That's the podcast comes out weekly on a Friday, and I have guests lined up now until may or June at this stage. Lots of interesting guests yourself included that. So I'm looking forward to our conversation on that being on the other side of the mic and.

And yeah, so people can find out more from the podcast, happier at work podcast, my website. Absolutely. Totally open to connect on LinkedIn. Just, just make a note of where you found out about me, because I got an awful lot of requests and sometimes I'll have a nosy on the profile and think, I don't know who this person is or why they want to connect with me sometimes.

I'll think, Oh yeah. Definitely. You can see the synergies here. And I'll spell out my name because people will not know how to spell it. It's Eva O'Brien. And it's about A O I F E O'Brien O apostrophe, B R I E N. And would love to connect.

Lech: [00:43:29] If it's been an absolute Joe, thank you very much for your time.

Aoife O'Brien: [00:43:32] Thanks so much, like absolutely thoroughly enjoyed this conversation.


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