What makes people happy at work?
What makes people happy at work?

What's the best way to assess employee happiness? Well, probably by asking them.

The collaborative work management platform Wrike did just that with their first-ever Happiness Index. The survey covered manager relationships, company mission and vision, and diversity, among other topics.

Here are highlights from the results and what you can do to address them.

1. Most U.S. workers are happy
It may come as a surprise, but most American workers surveyed said they were "mostly happy" with their current job - 71 percent, in fact. And 17 percent actually said they were "elated."

But, millennials are the most unhappy generation, with 17 percent of them saying they're either "mostly unhappy" or "miserable."

How to address it: Try to implement activities and practices that this age group cares about. Current trends are working from home, having standing desks, or collaborative work environments. The Wrike survey showed that workers who use collaborative work management software are "elated" or "mostly happy" with work by almost twice as much as unhappy workers.

2. Manager relationships
When people complain about work, it's often about their boss. If managers don't have the right tools to manage people effectively, their faults are on display and criticized. A micro-manager, for instance, is not fun to work under. Neither is someone who is lazy or unethical. As such, managers make a huge impact on employee happiness.

This is why none of those surveyed who said they were "elated" with their jobs reported a poor relationship with their manager. The majority of respondents - 63 percent - reportedly have "very good" relationships with their managers, which could explain the high number of overall happy employees.

How to address it: Give managers the tools they need to succeed. Especially with new managers, make sure they have ample training opportunities, and encourage professional development outlets. Continuous education about how to be an effective manager will keep all managers aligned while showing them positive ways to oversee employees.

Manager-employee relationships play a big role in worker happiness.Manager-employee relationships play a big role in worker happiness.

3. Company mission
In order for modern employees to feel happy at work, they need to support the company's overall mission and vision. Results from the Wrike survey show that:

  • 70 percent of happy employees resonate with their company's mission "strongly."
  • Out of the least happy workers, 32 percent say they don't feel resonance with the mission or they don't know what the company mission is.

How to address it: Make sure your mission and vision are both clearly stated on your website, marketing material, and email newsletters to employees. During company meetings or team trainings, reinforce key company values. Focus on how the business helps its audience and reiterate your commitment to improvement. 

4. Diversity
Diversity is a hot topic in recruitment. Employees want to know how diverse their workplace is and what management is doing to address it. Just like the company's mission, diversity considerations contribute directly to worker contentment. 

Happy workers are more than twice as likely to report "above average" diversity in their workplaces. Unhappy workers are 440 percent more likely to report diversity as "below average."

How to address it: Make sure you're talking about it. Create a diversity plan with human resources and distribute it to employees. Forbes stated that diversity issues must be addressed by upper management. It doesn't take much to show employees that you care; but make sure your actions align with your words. 

5. Social outlets
Another aspect of work that helps employees stay happy is providing social outlets, whether long lunches or outside-of-work activities. Happy workers like to take a more leisurely lunch with co-workers or friends and are 275 percent more likely to do so than unhappy workers.

Similarly, unhappy workers are twice as likely as happy workers to say that they don't like socializing with co-workers outside of work.

How to address it: Plan more employee outings and get-togethers. Encourage workers to take a full lunch break every day. And have more onsite activities like in-person company-wide meetings or special activities and celebrations.

Use these survey results to reconsider how you view employee happiness. 

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