The word “happy” isn’t always the first one mentioned when discussing high-level company goals. Among goals that deal with revenue and growth, you might see phrases such as employee engagement or employee experience. But what’s really coded underneath these terms is simply happiness. Employee happiness is made up of the work they do, the people they work with, and where they get work done.
Maintaining a happy employee workforce has benefits for both the company and the people. Studies show that happier people have better physical health and live longer. In fact, the oldest living humans credit their longevity to reducing their stress. And what directly correlates to lower stress? Happiness!
In the workplace, happier employees lead to more engaged teams, higher profitability, lower turnover rates, and higher savings for businesses. The list goes on and on. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through why employee happiness matters, how to measure it, and discuss some ways you can keep your employees happy and motivated. Let’s get into it.
Why is employee happiness important?
Employee happiness is important for one key reason: people are at the heart of every business. Your business cannot succeed without the folks you have building the products, talking to customers, and running all your operations. Plus, employees aren’t robots! They’re humans, and all humans want to feel satisfied and content in their lives.
Keeping your employees happy also has a direct impact on business outcome. For example, happy employees are more likely to go above and beyond in their job responsibilities. According to a report by Social Market Foundation, happy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees. That results in better job performance. If people enjoy their work, they’re more likely to want to do it well.
Happy employees also have lower absenteeism rates. They’re less likely to want to jump ship and search for new jobs. Recruiting and training new employees can be costly, so higher levels of retention is great from a business cost perspective too.
Finally, a happy workforce can improve the company’s reputation. Positive Glassdoor reviews can go a long way in retaining and attracting talent.
Now that we’ve gone over why employee happiness matters, let’s dive into some ways that you can measure employee happiness. It’s not as easy as just doing a quick scan of how many smiles you see in the office. Let’s look at some tactics together.
How to measure employee happiness
What does it actually mean to be happy at work? Happiness is subjective. For one employee, a happy day might look like eating their favorite meal for lunch and getting to socialize with a friend. For another employee, a happy day might be presenting a project to their team or completing a major initiative.
Happiness can often be a difficult metric to capture, however, it’s essential for workplace and people leaders to put trackable measurements on employee happiness. There are a few different methods to measure employee happiness:
- Surveys: Surveys are an excellent way to get a 10,000 foot view of what’s happening with your people. Surveys allow you to gather anonymous feedback, allowing employees to share their opinions and concerns. Send out a feedback survey minimum every three months.
- Focus groups: Another way to measure happiness is through more intimate settings like focus groups. Focus groups can offer employees a chance to dive deeper on specific topics related to their work satisfaction.
- Manager check-ins: One-on-one meetings can help managers identify individual concerns and provide personalized solutions. Those are great to balance along with quarterly surveys.
- Weekly tracking: Tools like 15Five or Lattice are built to help leaders track employee sentiment. Employees provide their weekly moral level and leaders can track how that employee is doing overtime as well as look holistically at the entire team’s morale.
According to Envoy’s Head of People Growth, Caitlin Kamm:
It’s important to leverage multiple methods in measuring employee sentiment and satisfaction to derive actionable insights from that data over time. Surveys are a snapshot in time and capture a very specific and time-bound moment in an employee’s experience. For employers to take action on employee sentiment data, it’s important to use multiple axes of measurement to create a full picture of what’s really going on in an employee’s experience and ultimately drive meaningful changes in these results.
8 ways to keep your employees happy
Most people want to do work that they love in places that they enjoy. Although there could be a million personal or professional factors that affect an employee’s workday, there are still ways that leaders can promote employee happiness. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Encourage open and regular communication between employees and management. This can be done through weekly team meetings, one-on-one’s, or via surveys. A clear line of communication, plus a culture that encourages transparency, can go a long way in making employees feel valued and happy.
2. Professional development opportunities
While job security and financial stability are important factors for job satisfaction, so too are the opportunities to use one’s skills and abilities. In order to remain happy and productive, employees need opportunities for growth. That might look like a promotion or new role, but it can also be something more individualized like a training, business class, or education stipend.
According to our recent At Work report, 35% of employees say a lack of flexible hours is a deal breaker for returning to the office. Along with being a deal breaker, it can be simply frustrating to work in an office with rigid work policies. So be sure to offer flexibility where you can, such as personalized schedules or hybrid work. Remember that your employees have a full life outside of the workplace, so allowing them to balance both work and life will help them feel happier and perform better at their job.
4. Work-life balance
Work-life balance is key for maintaining a happy employee workforce. Flexible hours and workplace social events are two ways to promote a healthy work-life balance. You should also encourage employees to take time off for vacation, mental health days, sick days, and more.
5. Workplace experience
No one is happy if they have to go to an office they don’t enjoy. So be sure to make your workplace a great experience for employees. Plan onsite events and social programs, stock the fridge with popular snacks, and invest in workplace tools that make being in the workplace productive and personalized.
6. Workplace tools
34% of employees say slow or outdated technology is a barrier in them being happy in the workplace. And well…it makes sense. Employees have to use these workplace tools everytime they come into the office. If the tools are slow and disconnected, it can be frustrating. So invest in workplace technology like employee scheduling, desk booking, and meeting room reservation that all seamlessly work together.
7. Recognition and rewards
A study by Globoforce found that employees who receive regular recognition like small rewards and praises are up to eight times more engaged than those who receive a yearly bonus. Frequent recognition and rewards for good work go a long way in making an employee feel connected to their team and appreciated for their contributions. Think about unique ways to recognize employees, such as a quarterly stipend to a restaurant of their choice or even something quicker like weekly praise in Slack.
8. Employee wellness
Invest in employee wellness programs, such as gym memberships, health and wellness workshops, and stress management programs. These kinds of benefits make employees feel like their personhood matters just as much as job performance. When employees feel cared for by their organization, they’re more likely to have happier associations with work and increased morale.
Cracking the code on employee happiness isn’t always easy, but it is important for leaders to make intentional efforts to promote happiness at work. Maintaining a happy employee workforce is essential to the success of the business and the success of each employee. By creating a fun workplace environment, rewarding employees for their contributions, and frequently gauging employee happiness levels, leaders can stay on top of their happiness goals.
Curious to learn more about how to create a great experience for your people? Get all you need to know in our Ultimate guide to improving the employee experience.