Come On, Get Happy: Measuring Workplace Happiness

Jun 27th, 2018 Business Development, Trends

“Your vibe attracts your tribe.”

This quote is famously shared among lifelong gal pals and internet memes; however, it’s quite applicable in workplace culture. In recent years it would seem that employee happiness is top of mind, or at least more broadly discussed than ever before. Researchers have proven that the happy worker is a more productive worker. So, it is entirely possible that employers might be driven selfishly by striving for employee happiness gains.

How do you measure happiness?

In truth, psychologists have been challenged to place metrics around happiness. However, academics, researchers, and the general public has never been in doubt that we’d be able to quantify mental states like depression, anxiety, and stress. According to Mark Holder, Ph.D. titled The Happiness Doctor; we look at 5 major categories when we evaluate a person’s overall well-being:

1. Biology

We’ve only experienced minimal success looking for biological markers, such as hormones and neurotransmitters for happiness. What we do know is that the markers for happiness aren’t the same as those for depression.

2. Behavior

These are estimations based on things like laughing, smiling, etc.

3. Implicit Measures

These are tests where people don’t know they’re being assessed and haven’t proven effective in evaluating happiness.

4. Other Reports

This is where the people you’re surrounded by are allowed to weigh in.

5. Self Reports

This is where you get to weigh in on your own mental state.

To further equate happiness based mainly on those categories, here is a list of widely respected questionnaires:

Oxford Happiness Inventory (Argyle and Hill)
Subjective Happiness Scale (Lyubomirsky & Lepper)
Satisfaction with Life Scale (Deiner, Emmons, Larsen and Griffin)
Panas Scale (Watson, Clark, Tellegen)

As an employer, you may or may not be best suited to dive in TOO deeply on an individual basis. Afterall, even HR Directors with corporate culture core competencies aren’t trained psychologists. However, focus on what you can control. Most team leads do care about the welfare of others. Particularly companies that operate in close-knit team environments. The wellbeing of each of your team members has an impact on overall performance.

One of the companies I’ve always admired is TINYpulse. They’re focused on measuring how your employees are feeling, how happy, frustrated or burnt-out they are. They issue regular, simple employee surveys that give real-time employee feedback. From there, leadership has a measurable benchmark. It’s an excellent service that allows even smaller companies to do more with less.

Using tools like TINYPulse to measure your progress is awesome, but where is the practical application?

What can a business or leadership do to positively impact employee happiness and productivity?

According to Entrepreneur magazine, employers can do a lot, including:

1. Existential Appeasement

Well defined goals promote a more disciplined work ethic. Definition and frequent communication around mutually-agreed upon goals provide a broader sense of purpose.

2. Transparency

Be upfront about the state of the company. Closed-door conversations should be kept to a minimum. Those with privileged information shouldn’t tout it. Workplace gossip is toxic.

3. Mentorship

If you work to build your employees, they will work harder for you. Loyalty breeds loyalty.

4. Flexibility

The draining monotony of the 9 to 5 workday is unnecessary and old-fashioned. Don’t judge them by the time served but by productivity. Freedom is rewarding.

5. Mindful Meetings Only

Meetings are important, but if something can be accomplished in an email internally- try that approach instead of the 30-minute calendar interruption.

The benefits are immeasurable. It’s critical to have a happy working environment because the alternative is short-lived and miserable for all parties involved. What are you doing for your employees that you wish you would have sooner?

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