Published On: Sat, Nov 16th, 2013

Measuring the Happiness of Your Employees

HappinessI recently had the pleasure of reading ’Culture Shock’ by Will McInnes following a recommendation from the Jericho Chambers Club Room. The book was a genuine delight and got me thinking about business, what it now means to be one and what they will look like in the future.

Although organisations need to make money, there is  now a growing school of thought that they should exist to serve more than the bottom-line. They must also focus on creating value for staff, suppliers and the local community. I’ve used ‘value’ as it’s a broad term that means much more than just money.

Money is not the only measure
In ‘Culture Shock’, McInnes makes the case that businesses should measure staff happiness as a KPI – and I agree. There’s many reasons for this and those familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs will know that once our financial needs are met, we often begin to look for satisfaction and motivation from other areas. In fact, I’d go as far to say that the vast majority of the modern day and future workforce is characterised by wanting to work in a stimulating, exciting and challenging environment where they feel valued. This is how you can begin to make your employees happy.

Throughout the book McInnes touches upon many interesting themes and offers creative solutions to numerous challenges, but his ideas about culture and happiness really grabbed my attention. While the Church of Fail might be uncomfortable for many organisations, Happy Buckets – whereby staff place a tennis ball in an Innocent Smoothie-esque bucket to denote happiness is worthy of closer attention. Although the buckets might not be for every business, measuring staff happiness has to be. What business doesn’t want real-time feedback about the mood of the workforce?

Who measures happiness?
Attempting to measure happiness isn’t some wishy-washy idea. Quite the opposite. The UK government is looking closely at this as they seek metrics for happiness and well-being that are not based on money or Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It’s undoubtedly difficult to measure the mood of a nation, and that’s why the finest minds at the Office for National Statistics have been tasked with developing new measures of national happiness. But we’re not the first country to take this approach. The Kingdom of Bhutan, a landlocked country in South Asia located at the eastern end of the Himalayas pioneered happiness as a metric over GDP way back in 1971.

Happy employees + positive impact on society = profit
Back to business, culture and happiness. The link between what’s good for your employees and society will be great for your bottom-line is increasingly becoming apparent. In short, it makes good business sense to treat your employees well and have a positive impact on the area in which you operate. To succeed in the 21st Century you need a higher purpose.

How can you measure happiness?
With this in mind, I’ve developed some questions to ask yourself about staff happiness. By taking a closer look at these questions and speaking to your employees, you can then begin to work out what you need to measure and how you’ll achieve this. Remember, just because something is difficult to measure (like happiness) doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be attempted.

Staff happiness

  • What’s the staff turnover?

  • Are staff happy here?

  • Would staff recommend working here?

  • Would staff say the culture is enjoyable?

  • How do you treat employees well?

  • How do you provide frequent and honest communication?

  • Do staff understand business priorities?

  • Do staff think the business is heading in the right direction?

  • Are staff recognised for their work?

  • Is there room for career development?

Making your employees happy
This is easier said than done and it’s difficult to do justice in just one paragraph. However, in the annual Edelman Trust Barometer the team identified 16 attributes that can help build trust. The clusters were defined as engagement, integrity, products & services, purpose and operations, but on closer inspection you’ll notice that many of them are intricately linked to staff happiness. It’s well worth taking a closer look, but the key message is that while focussing on business goals is important, it is no longer enough, businesses need to establish both operational and societal objectives to succeed.

To stay ahead and thrive in the 21st Century you’ll need an engaged, motivated and happy workforce. This will require an inspirational working environment fostered by management who take a human, principles based approach to leadership with transparency, coaching and participation at its core.

About the Author

- Marketing Manager with a passion for inbound at HubSpot, Founder of Growth Hack Talks, Blogger at and Chief Quaffer at .

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