Significant Stat: Is Variety the Spice of Life?

Workplace Challenge

“Engaging in a variety of activities from day to day can make us happier, but too much variety in too short a time can have the opposite effect” (source)

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center Perspective

At what point does variety cease to be interesting and start to be overwhelming? According to research by Professor Jordan Etkin of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, it’s the amount of time that is key to our perception of variety. When we cram too many varied activities into a short couple of hours, the switching between tasks makes us feel less productive. With that feeling of suboptimal productivity, we are left less happy than we could be. When the period of time expands from minutes and hours to days, weeks, etc, overall happiness grows. As a leader, it’s important to ensure your employees are supported in seeking balance and happiness in their workdays. Although every employee has some days that are filled with a number of little things, the bigger picture should be one that is varied enough to be stimulating and stable enough to support a feeling of productivity. At The Ritz-Carlton, we acknowledge that our Ladies and Gentlemen need to learn and grow everyday though taking on varied tasks, and at times even completely different roles. By enlivening our Service Values about learning and teamwork, we ensure that what brings variety to one employee brings support to another team that needs extra help. Providing this kind of opportunity for both sides of the equation requires our Ladies and Gentlemen to communicate effectively with each other and understand how to support each other toward the happiest outcomes for all.