How can companies protect workers against stress and burnout? Well-Being researcher Hein Zegers shares his insights on the topic.
“The BASICS therapeutic approach is a routine based on empirical research conducted among people who consciously choose a more brain-friendly environment”, he explains in an interview with Mensura, Belgium’s largest External Occupational Health Service.
BASICS is the acronym for Back (taking a step back), Attention, Select (what is really essential), Invest (in what is essential) and Cut (what is not essential). By cutting down on the number of activities or tasks on your to-do list, you will experience more Sense (meaningfulness). Within a work context, the BASICS method often translates into the 80/20 rule: 20% of your carefully selected activities produce 80% of your positive results.
According to the Great Places to Work index, Google is once again the top 1 employer this year. So as an international Well-Being Researcher, I headed towards Mountain View, California, and visited them to find out: is Google the happiest workplace on Earth?
How is it to work for the company that steers the world’s leading search engine as well as Gmail, YouTube, Android, Chrome, Maps, Translate, and literally hundreds of other applications? With many more in the pipeline, including self-driving cars (I’ve been inside one), contact lenses that measure your glucose levels, internet balloons, home automation, individualized medicine, life extension technology, etc…?
Are Google Employees happy indeed? For sure, Google has been known for its many employee perks. There are free laundry facilities, children’s day care, you can even get a free haircut.
We know from research that physical movement is good for your subjective well-being. And indeed, Google offers all kinds of free sports facilities, including free gym, Yoga and fitness classes and a central beach volley court, just to name a few.
Google’s free multi-colored bikes are everywhere: as an employee, you just grab one to move from one building to the other. From country-level research, we know that using bikes is strongly correlated with happiness. But using bikes at Google is not only healthy and happiness-inducing, it’s also practical: Google Campus is so huge that on foot, you can keep walking for half an hour straight and still be on Google grounds.
The food trucks and cafeterias offer free and healthy food. Their interior is simple but effective, and remind me of my favorite Alma Mater student restaurant. As many employee facilities here, they offer plenty opportunity to network and be among other people – one more factor that we know from research as essential to our well-being.
Google has a clear mission statement: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Until recently, the unofficial mission statement had been ‘Don’t be evil’. Recently this has been replaced by ‘Do the right thing’. Which, psychologically speaking, makes sense: most parts of our brain cannot process negative utterances, so I suppose there was the danger that with a statement like ‘Don’t be evil’ only the ‘evil’ part keeps sticking…
Google claims to actively embrace diversity, and that is visible: the workforce is extremely international, you hear all kinds of languages spoken on campus, facilities abound when you’re a parent or pregnant, there are gender-neutral toilets, etcetera.
One of my quirks is that next to investigating everything there is, I also love to look for what is not present. So it struck me that one category of people is clearly underrepresented: the elderly.
Thomas, a former Googler from Belgium, explains: ‘First you do your thing at Google for a few years. Then your work experience is becoming so valuable, that you can seize better opportunities at other companies. That’s also what I’ve done. But generally speaking, Google is indeed a great place to work.’
De BASICS-therapie uit Zooikoorts won op de ‘World Conference on Positive Psychology 2017’ in Montréal de ‘Positive Clinical Intervention Prize’.
Prof. Dr. Dirk De Wachter, KU Leuven: ‘Symptomen van onze huidige borderline times zijn zinloosheid en leegte. Leegte die we dan weer opvullen met afleiding in allerhande rumoerig gedoe. Een vicieuze cirkel waarin we blijven ronddraaien. In Zooikoorts trekt Hein Zegers samen met de lezer op zoek naar een mogelijke uitweg.’
Prof. Em. Dr. Jan Auke Walburg, Universiteit Twente: ‘In Zooikoorts spreekt een man van de wetenschap en van de praktijk. Zijn ervaring merk je op alle pagina’s van zijn onderhoudende en inhoudelijk sterke boek.’
Zegers, H. (2017). Voluntary Simplicity, Well-being and Meaning in Life. A Multilingual Empirical Study of 500+ People who Consciously Choose for Simple and Slow Living. Podium Presentation at the 5th World Congress on Positive Psychology, Montréal, July 13-16, 2017.
Interview over Zooikoorts met Hein Zegers in de kwaliteitskrant NRC, twee volle pagina’s breed. Intussen één van hun meest gedeelde en meest ‘trending’ artikels ooit. Blijkbaar raakt het onderwerp zooikoorts bij massa’s mensen een gevoelige snaar.
‘In Zooikoorts spreekt een man van de wetenschap en van de praktijk. Zijn ervaring merk je op alle pagina’s van zijn onderhoudende en inhoudelijk sterke boek.’
– Prof. Em. Dr. Jan Auke Walburg, Universiteit Twente.
‘Symptomen van onze huidige borderline times zijn zinloosheid en leegte. Leegte die we dan weer opvullen met afleiding in allerhande rumoerig gedoe. Een vicieuze cirkel waarin we blijven ronddraaien. In Zooikoorts trekt Hein Zegers samen met de lezer op zoek naar een mogelijke uitweg.’
– Prof. dr. Dirk De Wachter, KU Leuven.
Zegers, H. (2016). Positive psychology: essential knowledge. Instructional videoclip in Leijssen, M. (Ed.), Existential Well-being Counseling. A Person-centered Experiential Approach. MOOC edX, published online october 1st, 2016. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxkyzeARH3o
Zegers, H. (2016). Measuring Well-being. Instructional videoclip in Leijssen, M. (Ed.), Existential Well-being Counseling. A Person-centered Experiential Approach. MOOC edX, published online october 1st, 2016. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9vePGoipu0
Zegers, H. (2016). Richer but not happier? Instructional videoclip in Leijssen, M. (Ed.), Existential Well-being Counseling. A Person-centered Experiential Approach. MOOC edX, published online october 1st, 2016. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CxzN7y8pYA
Zegers, H. (2016). Happier with a Gratitude Diary. Instructional videoclip in Leijssen, M. (Ed.), Existential Well-being Counseling. A Person-centered Experiential Approach. MOOC edX, published online october 1st, 2016. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMtBEMeWLmU
Hein Zegers has been co-authoring and co-moderating the introductory chapter of the KU Leuven Leuven University EdX MOOC ‘Existential Well-Being Counseling’ by Prof. Mia Leijssen. He has also been giving guest lectures at several faculties of the university.
Zegers, H. (2015). Simple Living, Valued Living. An international study of Voluntary Simplicity and Psychological Flexibility. Presentation at the World Conference of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, 2015, Berlin.
Hein Zegers has been Teaching Assistant for the world’s very first MOOC on “The Science of Happiness” (University of California, Berkeley) for over 200.000 Students from all over the world.
Main Responsibility: Community Teaching Assistance for the first chapter “Introduction to the Science of Happiness”.
Evidence Based Happiness vzw is a non-profit organization. Its mission is to spread the Science of Well-Being, in a way that is both understandable and scientifically accurate. Its co-founder and chair is Hein Zegers.
This educational/research organization obtained official non-profit status (“vzw”) on the first official United Nations World Happiness Day (March 20, 2013).
Does money make you happy? “Ook getest op mensen”, a popular scientific program on the largest Belgian VRT television channel “één” has tested this with the help of well-being expert Hein Zegers. A dramatized version of an experiment by Jordi Quoidbach (Quoidbach et al., 2010).
Soboku Music (click to visit). Simple Recorder Solo Music Channel. Exploring music, the concept of Soboku (Japanese 素朴: pure simplicity), and Ockham’s Razor (as simple as possible, but no simpler than that).
Co-Founder & first Executive Committee Member (Jan 2010-Jun 2012)
Hein Zegers has co-founded and served a full 2-year term as Executive Committee Member of SIPPA, the Student section of IPPA, the International Positive Psychology Association.
Main responsibilities: spreading the Science of Positive Psychology by setting up a world-wide network of local representatives & help recruiting over 1800 paying student members.