Michiel Hulsbergen is psychologist, management consultant and entrepreneur. As director of Dialogue trainer, he developed an online training tool for professional communication skills that uses virtual customers, patients or clients. Years of academic research on emotions, combined with a lot of practical experience, have made Michiel a heavy-weight expert on emotions and human behavior.


Happiness at work. Is it possible? Is it valuable? How do people in your organization look at happiness on the work floor?

Michiel: “I think it’s absurd to presume that happiness at work would be conditional. People have evolved to work together, we are a cooperating species. Therefore, we developed characteristics that help us work together. Emotions are nothing else than a characteristic that drives social behavior. As such, positive emotions are a reference to opportunities and negative emotions refer to threats. So if you want people to be as happy as possible at work, make sure they feel safe – both physically and socially – and successful at  seizing opportunities.”


Different generations have different expectations from their employers. What is the most significant difference you see between the expectation of the younger generations compared to the older ones?

Michiel: “The main difference may be a result from the older generation growing up in a world that is more hierarchical. Both privately and professionally. And they believe that this makes sense. However, due to the rapidly changing world, millennials often have a better understanding of modern systems than the older generation. As a result, the hierarchical system where the older generation knows better is being undermined. Another important difference has to do with impact and performance management. Millennials often grow up expecting to provide their own content and set their own conditions. This oftentimes creates problems in a hierarchical work environment.”


Employee Engagement is a term that is widely used, but oftentimes interpreted differently. In your opinion, what should we be talking about when we discuss Employee Engagement?

Michiel: “Employee Engagement is firstly about priority. To be engaged with something, you first have to find it important. And to be fully engaged, it should be the most important. So working for your current employer should be a top priority for you. Secondly, it’s about your role and relevance in the organization. Understanding the importance of your tasks to the organization is a great way of becoming more engaged. This also means that management should constantly show employees the relevance and the results of their work. Another important part is showing employees their impact on strategic priorities. Management has to lead, and therefore has to set priorities, but listening to the employees and showing them how their input is reflected in the priorities, is a great way to inspire engagement.”


HR Technology is evolving rapidly. Which HR Tech do you expect to have the biggest impact on your organization in 2017?

Michiel: “I expect the most interesting developments to be in the field of strategic HR. I expect a lot from the development in measuring the employee experience. Under a project named Face your Emotions we will be releasing a new app soon called Emotion Self-Coach that helps people to learn from their own emotions. The subconscious mind is in many ways much more powerful than the conscious one, so there is a lot you can learn from your own emotions. Applied to a work environment, the aggregated results are very interesting. For example, coming back to our earlier conversation about happiness at work, identifying opportunities and threats for an organization.”


Find out more about Michiel Hulsbergen on his LinkedIn page or visit Dialogue Trainer.