Money can’t buy happiness, but a few steps can help HR assess employee satisfaction and jump-start joy.
In a recent study, happiness increased work productivity by 12%, while unhappy workers were 10% less productive. So how do you determine how happy your employees are? Then what can you do to increase their job-related joy?
There are several proven tools to measure employee happiness, but among the most reliable are your eyes and ears, as well as those of your colleagues. When people gather in breakrooms, are they animated and laughing or are they silent or sullen and complaining? Are optional company events (such as parties or sporting events) well attended? Do team members greet each other warmly in the hallways? Do managers know their employees and take time to chat with them? You can gain real insight into how employees feel about the company and their jobs by watching and listening.
One popular formal approach to assessing employee happiness is the seven-category Employee Satisfaction Index (ESI). This includes employee-satisfaction questions in seven areas.
The areas are:
1. Extrinsic Rewards (salary, bonuses, etc.)
2. Supervisor Support (happiness with his/her boss)
3. Reward Fairness (how satisfactorily rewards are distributed among employees)
4. Autonomy (how much freedom employees feel they have in doing their work)
5. Corporate Image (how much employees like the company)
6. Affinity (how supported employees feel by colleagues)
7. Development (how satisfied employees are with career prospects/opportunities in the company)
Scoring involves a 10-point Likert scale with possible responses to a series of statements ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.” This is designed to measure satisfaction in each of the seven areas through 2-4 questions, so that you can get enough data to identify opportunities for change or improvement. Examples of statements include:
· In general, I am satisfied with my compensation package.
· My administration is available to listen to job-related problems.
· I am proud to work for my company.
· It’s easy to talk to my colleagues when I need help.
· The company helps employees grow as well as develop their potential.
For low scores related to specific statements, a targeted approach might be useful. For instance, if a majority of employees “disagree” or “strongly disagree” that it’s easy to talk to colleagues when they need help, consider conducting team-building activities. This can be as simple as weekly department trivia contests where the winning team gets a pizza lunch or ice cream, or more elaborate events such as a visit to a local escape room facility. Remind staff via emails, newsletters, posters, and more that they can ask for any training or education they think is necessary to their jobs; and encourage partnerships or mentorships for learning opportunities.
For more general signs of unhappiness/dissatisfaction, look for ways to promote or establish:
· A creative work environment, where new ideas and innovation are welcomed and encouraged.
· An environment where people don’t feel smothered or overburdened by unnecessary processes, policies, and red tape.
· Ample opportunities for feedback and constructive suggestions, as well as recognition for good work and successes.
· A collaborative environment where diversity is embraced and celebrated, as well as where mutual respect is widespread.
At the same time, consider some specific ways to increase employee joy and happiness:
· Invite humor. Lighten up when appropriate with jokes, funny costumes, cartoons, etc.
· Celebrate diversity with themed lunches, featuring family/ancestral stories in newsletters and other publications, or monthly family programs where people bring their favorite traditional foods, etc.
· As possible, give employees some control over their work day and offer some scheduling flexibility.
· Be creative about encouraging exercise. For instance, have a brief break each day where employees (as possible) dance, do jumping jacks, or walk/jog in place.
· Maintain a bright, comfortable atmosphere. When possible and appropriate, raise the shades, open the windows, bring in plants, have pets onsite, etc. Encourage staff to suggest ways you can make the office a happier, nicer place to be every day.