Inspired Organizational Cultures

Guest post by Gerald Wagner.

The Institute for Inspired Organizational Cultures (IOC) aims to develop a global community of leaders who are advocates for organizational cultures of wellbeing and happiness. We created a self-paced program to teach new generations the importance of providing positive leadership and transforming workplaces for a new, inspired era of business growth.

As a seasoned academic, professor and entrepreneur, I’ve spent decades launching start-ups, building software, creating new degree programs, and advancing the causes of technological innovation and education to help students and professionals excel.

Throughout all my various endeavors, however, I’ve always believed that one factor was more important than anything else: happy and loyal employees. In 1978 with my first software company, I retained a Consulting Psychologist to hold what we called “Truth and Trust” sessions. 37 years ago I was thinking about the kinds of things that have now become so popular in business.
Wellbeing and happiness is what every employee deserves Click To Tweet
In each of my leadership roles, I was lucky enough to earn a reputation for treating people right and providing an open, respectful work environment conducive to creativity and engagement. While I always believed in these values as part of my own management style, it wasn’t until 2011 that I began to recognize their importance in the bigger picture.

While working with Gallup as a Senior Scientist (simultaneously teaching at the University of Nebraska in Omaha), they published a book entitled Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements. This groundbreaking publication was a wake-up call. It was then that it hit me: Facilitating wellbeing and happiness within organizations was my calling.

That same year I quit the University of Nebraska to join Bellevue University, where I was given carte blanche to move toward my new goals. I decided to start what eventually became the Institute for Employee Wellbeing, a group dedicated to developing and testing software and processes to improve the wellbeing of local organizations.

Throughout this period, from 2011 to 2014, I realized that there were, unfortunately, too few truly inspired organizational cultures. I came to see that the new frontier of happiness was the most important shift in the business world in my lifetime. So, I decided to forge ahead and start my own organization: The Institute for Inspired Organizational Cultures (IOC).

Inspired Cultures

weirdThe purpose of the IOC is to participate in developing a global community of leaders who are advocates for organizational cultures of wellbeing and happiness. We support college-level and professional students around the globe, from Europe to Asia to India and beyond, providing them with unique educational materials and support.

The Institute develops state of the art materials intended to expand the numbers of humans that are aware of the wellbeing and happiness movement. One group we are especially pleased to support is AIESEC, the world’s largest student organization with 120,000 students on 2,400 campuses.

Our materials are free for anyone with email addresses that end with .edu or .org. For others, the fee is minimal. We’ve partnered with notable professionals, all of whom have donated their time based on their belief in the mission. We created more than 20 online videos on inspired organizational cultures, offering exposure to case studies and best practices. It is a self-paced, do-it-yourself program for organizations and students.

Study Groups on Wellbeing

workingOur materials are ideal for universities to create a new course: Organizational Cultures for Wellbeing and Happiness. When that’s not an option, study groups are an alternative for students to get started immediately – no administrative approvals required. Organizations can also embark on similar programs in the workplace, encouraging employees to participate as a form of professional development.

We suggest that participants (whether they are students or working professionals) form groups of 5-10 people to learn together, as the format emphasizes interaction to maximize learning, creativity and sustainability. We ask people to meet 6-8 times; once a week or every other week, to watch a video and discuss. The overall idea of the materials is to teach the creation of cultures of happiness and wellbeing in a pragmatic, engaging way.

Smiles are free

If there’s one thing that’s been established – in my experience and through a growing body of research – it’s that happy employees lead to better business. In addition to the importance of happiness and wellbeing as an ethical pursuit, better performance is invaluable with organizations like Google, Southwest Airlines and Costco proving it through large-scale programs. But it’s not just for the big boys. Companies with 5 to 500 employees are perfect candidates, and I’ve facilitated several wellbeing classes for small organizations. One director said to me: “Your class and the book ‘Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements’ (by Rath and Harter) changed our culture.”
Engaged and happy employees are 50% more productive Click To Tweet
Also, there are countless statistics to demonstrate this concept. Engaged and happy employees are fifty percent (50%) more productive and thirty percent (30%) more innovative. Wellness programs have ROI’s of 3:1 or greater.

Research shows that every measure of business success is improved if employees feel there is trust, dignity, joy, transparency, autonomy, and dignity. These qualities make for a workplace where employees can’t help but smile when they tell others about their job. Interesting enough, interventions to achieve these qualities cost little and often nothing.

From my head to my heart, I’m an entrepreneur. And my experience has taught me that success stems from passion and resilience. That’s what the IOC is all about – facilitating positive psychology, trust, emotional intelligence, collaboration, engagement, idea management and many others in the same vein. The IOC is helping to teach new generations the importance of positive leadership and transforming workplaces for a new, inspired era. My entire career has led up to this, and I couldn’t be prouder. Helping people be happier is what my line of work is all about, and what could be better than that?


Gerald R. Wagner, Ph.D. is a software entrepreneur, statistician, and simulation modeling technologist turned behavioral scientist. He is the founder of the Institute for Inspired Organizational Cultures at

Do you like this post? Please help me spread positivity by tweeting, sharing, and liking.

Leave a Reply

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Marianne Johansson

    Interesting read hope to see more

    1. Marcella Bremer

      You will, Marianne! We have more examples of Inspired Organizational Cultures in store!

This is a new beginning

How can you contribute to the necessary organizational change, personal change, and climate change? Alone we can do little, but together we can do a

Read More »

This is not the End

With a new year, we make new resolutions. What are yours? And why is it not easy to change? Let’s contribute to necessary organizational change,

Read More »