What Makes Happy Employees? Hint: It’s Not Just Compensation

May 22, 2019

Compensation is still important, but participants in a recent survey said factors other than money made them happy in their jobs. Company culture and wellness were keys to being satisfied, 4,000 workers revealed in a survey by Wrike.

 

The Importance Of Being Happy At Work

Since employees may spend the majority of the day at work, they want to feel happy and fulfilled in their jobs. It’s not just employees who want to be happy at work; employers want it too. Multiple studies have identified ways happy employees outperform unhappy ones, including:

  • Being 4% better at customer service
  • Having 26% fewer clinical errors
  • Having 79% less burnout
  • Being 61% less likely to leave
  • Being 31% more productive
  • Increasing sales by 37%

 

It’s Not (All) About The Money

Historically, employers thought compensation was the key to an employee’s heart, but with more emphasis on work/life balance, many employees value other aspects of the job more than money.

According to the study, in the U.S., meaningful work is the most important factor in being happy at work. In fact, 58% of employees in America say they have taken a pay cut during their career to take a job that makes them happier. In addition to meaningful work, other important factors for happiness were (in order of ranking) 

  • Management
  • Flexible hours
  • Compensation
  • Company culture
  • Office location

 

Keys To A Happy Employee

Although money is one of the factors to happiness, it is interesting to note that many of the other factors are more related to employee experience. 

Meaningful work, for example, is about the job itself but it is also about how that job contributes to the overall mission of the team or organization. According to the survey, 61% of employees are detached or unaware of the company vision. Ensuring employees understand their individual objectives and their impact are key to developing meaning. Almost every position will have some type of tedious but necessary tasks. Finding ways to minimize those through automation can reduce frustration and give employees more time and bandwidth to focus on work that has the most impact. Also, employers can help employees understand how mundane tasks contribute to the broader vision.

Flexible hours is increasingly important to employees who want to balance their work and personal lives. A recent study found that employees crave free time as one of the most important perks. Having autonomy helps relieve stress, and that support from an organization can increase employee commitment.

In addition to being happy in organizations that provide meaningful work and flexible hours, employees said they were happy in organizations that supported collaborative work and workforce diversity. Specifically, happy employees are 30% more likely to say their office diversity is “above average” than unhappy employees.  Diversity includes gender, age, ethnicity, and race. These different backgrounds enrich the workplace and promote the exploration of new ideas and concepts.

 

The Relationship Between Happiness And Wellness

Although it’s possible to be happy without being well, or well without being happy, there is a strong correlation between the two. A Cornell University study found that people who are positive have lower levels of inflammation, which translates to a lower risk of developing a chronic disease. 

The Wrike study reinforces that employers must take a multifaceted approach to understanding and providing the benefits, programs, and support workers need to create a culture of healthy, happy employees.

Topics: Engagement


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