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Workplace Happiness

February 10 2017 - A recent study of over 12,000 Canadian and U.S.workers conducted for staffing agency Robert Half, in conjunction with well-being expert Nic Marks, found that while everyone wants to be happy at work there are differences depending on factors such as age, gender, and job area.

Nic Marks is CEO and founder of Happiness Works which provides organizations with tools to identify, measure and manage employee happiness. According to Marks happiness is not about feeling cheerful every day or avoiding challenges:

"Work can be difficult and demanding, but if employees feel proud of what their organization does, respected as a person and appreciated for what they do, then they tend to be happy and do better work as a result. Happiness at work is a genuine win-win - great for employees and great for employers.".

On-the Job Happiness - Overall Findings
  • Most professionals are generally happy. On a happiness scale of 0 - 100, those surveyed scored a 71.
  • The power of pride. Having pride in one's organization is the No. 1 driver of happiness overall for respondents. Those who feel proud of their organization are three times more likely to be happy than those who are not.
  • Respect and appreciation go a long way. The second and third top factors driving happiness are feeling appreciated, and being treated with fairness and respect.
  • Poor fit employees more likely to be headed for the door. One-third of workers (33 per cent) say they will likely leave their current employer in the next six months; workers who report that they are not a good match with their employers are the most apt to leave.
Happiness by Occupation and Company Size
  • Small business employees are happier. People working in firms with 10 or fewer employees have the highest happiness levels. Organizations with 10,000 or more employees report the lowest.
  • Teaching, creative professions fare well. Those in the education and training sector, as well as marketing and design, report the highest levels of on-the-job happiness and interest in their work, while finance professionals were among those reporting the lowest levels on these two factors.
  • Legal professionals the most stressed. Legal professionals report the highest stress levels at work, while technology employees cite the lowest stress levels.
  • More engagement in the corner office. Senior executives have the highest happiness levels, while people working in sales and customer service are on the lower end of the spectrum.
  • Accountants just want to be appreciated. Different professions have slightly different key drivers of happiness at work. For example, feeling appreciated is a primary factor for accountants, while doing worthwhile work is more important for marketing professionals.
Happiness by Age and Gender
  • Millennials want to make their mark. For those ages 34 and under, a sense of accomplishment is the strongest determinant of happiness.
  • For Gen X, reality might, indeed, 'bite.' Workers ages 35 to 54 are the least happy, most stressed out and least interested in their work.
  • Experienced workers have more reasons to smile. Employees ages 55 and up report the highest levels of happiness on the job.
  • Men feel more influential. Men fare better than women in nearly every aspect of happiness studied. The biggest difference was in the influence they have on business decisions, with 55 per cent of men saying they are able to influence business decisions, compared to 47 per cent of women.

Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half commented:

"This research shows a high level of happiness at work among professionals overall, but also demonstrates unique challenge areas by sector and company size. For businesses struggling to attract and retain workers with in-demand skills, the report provides a roadmap for forging deeper engagement and commitment levels among staff."

"Happiness is not a nice-to-have, but a necessity for a productive and successful business. For professionals across all industries, much of happiness at work comes down to choosing the right role and the right employer."

Previous Article

A report from Strategic Connections Inc. in 2009 highlighted the negative impact on employee morale and engagement associated with the worldwide economic downturn The report found that organizations tended to reduce investment in engaging their employees and were less open with them, leading to increased speculation and anxiety exacerbated by media reports of company failures and unemployment. It was argued that focusing on key areas during the ceconomic crisis would improve the organization's survivability and help prepare for the upturn.

Ken Milloy, president and senior strategy consultant of Strategy Connections suggested the following strategies:

  1. Employers should ensure they have a clear and compelling direction or story to share with their staff. This story needs to include a bit on what the company has to be proud of, a summary of what is happening, a concise picture of where it's headed and how it will get there with everyone playing their part. This story must be shared widely, repeatedly and consistently.
  2. Use all lines of communication with openness and honesty at the heart of all interactions. While many employers keep the bad news away from their staff, the ones that perform well share it, discuss it and seek ways to move forward. Keeping the bad news quiet rapidly increases the rumor mill, negative attitudes and an overall feeling of dispiritedness that hinders all areas of individual and business performance.
  3. Ensure managers and front line leaders actively share and discuss news and information with staff and recognize people for their efforts. They should focus on behaviours and say thanks to those who exhibit the right ones. Of course, managers can only do this if they are engaged and able to model the desired behaviours.
  4. Continue to focus on careers, growth and development. By focusing on career development, companies will send a clear message to employees that they are moving forward and very much want them as a part of that future.

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