Your 8-step employee happiness booster plan

All businesses want their employees to be happy - but as a policy objective, it's still a contentious issue.

What is employee happiness and how do you measure it? Does it really relate to profitability? How do you make sure you don't waste money on unsuccessful incentives? Is it even an employer's place to involve themselves in the happiness of their staff?

Before you discount or proceed with an employee happiness strategy, the first step is to evaluate things as they are. How do staff feel? What areas of work do they think need addressing to help them feel happier? Trendy perks like table tennis tables and free beer Fridays may sound appealing and add a little fun to the office, but if you haven't addressed fundamental issues then these superficial changes may not make the difference you were hoping for.

Make sure you consider all areas of your business when researching employee happiness, including:

  • Policy
  • Environment
  • Equipment
  • Management
  • Job role satisfaction
  • Career progression

What has employee happiness got to do with productivity?

Research suggests there really is a link between staff happiness and the profitability of a business. One study found that people who say they feel happy at work are 20% more productive than their unhappier colleagues. Another found that feeling happy can raise sales figures by 37%. Organisations listed on Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work for rose in stock price by 14% in seven years, whereas organisations not on the list only reported a 6% rise.

Attitudes towards work are changing. We've been empowered by education and technology to choose our own career paths; the industrial-age ethos of hard work being the antithesis of happiness no longer applies. It is possible - and increasingly expected, for us to enjoy our jobs. We're no longer required to spend most of our lives undertaking back-breaking work for the benefit of a handful of factory owners. Employment law supports the rights of workers, and enlightened employers understand how listening to and taking care of their workforces benefits business in the long term.

A general feeling of positivity, loyalty, openness and motivation in a workplace is more likely to provide long-term success than one in which people feel negative, disillusioned and overworked. People who like their work and are happy in their roles are more likely put in the effort, because they're more likely to care.

We've put together an employee happiness booster plan that suggests areas to target: