Today we’ll take a look at the index of employee happiness and figure out how it works, why it’s important to measure, and in what way it’s influenced by employee monitoring. Spoiler alert: a positive one.
When we talk about core HR metrics and KPIs for employee motivation, the usual words we hear are “engagement,” “productivity,” “commitment,” “loyalty,” etc. But have you ever noticed that all these criteria stem from something bigger?
No one decides to be engaged simply for the sake of being engaged. The same way, no one becomes productive just to be considered productive. And to get your employees to be as efficient as possible, you need to understand why they’re coming to the office day in and day out. As you follow the path of their motivation, you’ll inevitably arrive at a rather simple, yet eye-opening conclusion:
People work to be happy.
People strive for various tangible and intangible assets purely so that they can feel joy. But how can you put this epiphany to good use? And is it even feasible to manage employee happiness levels in the workplace? Let's figure it out together.
Why bother making your employees happy in the first place
On the surface, it might seem that being happy is completely up to people themselves. You might think along the lines of, “they’ve accepted the job offer, so they must’ve already chosen this type of activity as one of the means of achieving happiness; so why should I meddle in something so personal?”
Here are two relevant pieces of statistics for you:
- Engaged employees are on average 18% more productive than those who aren’t – and generate 23% more revenue (Gallup findings);
- Loyal employees reduce company’s turnover and achieve better results (Gallup once again).
Whether we decide to focus on employee engagement, productivity or commitment, they’re all derivatives of the overall level of happiness. If your employees are content and there’s nothing distracting them from doing their jobs, they’ll probably be better focused on the tasks at hand and demonstrate a higher level of engagement and productivity. Moreover, if they acknowledge that their jobs add to them feeling happy, they’ll feel more gratitude. That way, they’ll also become more loyal to the company.
So, if you’re looking for a general indicator to assess the attitudes of your employees towards their jobs and the company as a whole, their happiness levels sound like a perfect fit.
How to measure the level of happiness within the company
Happiness is an extremely personal concept, which is why the same “derivative” indicators are usually used to calculate it: satisfaction, commitment, and engagement. For a person to be happy with their work, the following criteria must be met:
- they are satisfied with their working conditions – salary, facilities, schedule;
- they enjoy their job – interesting and challenging tasks, as little tedious paperwork as possible;
- they aren’t bothered in any way – there are no internal conflicts, no exhausting routines or pointless administrative tasks.
Obviously, it’s impossible to obtain perfection with any of these elements; essentially, you’ll need some sort of balance. For example, the lead developer might loathe sitting on phone calls with project managers or filling out reports, but he still understands the importance of these tasks. It’ll probably be best to minimize the amount of his mundane tasks and assign him something more challenging and engaging instead.
At the same time, you should remember that everybody is different, and the things that matter to one employee could be of absolutely no priority to another one. How do you juggle the needs of your team members and make sense of them? You just need to ask them directly.
Employee Net Promoter Score, and the “happiness” surveys
Conduct an anonymous survey (you can even divide it by departments for easier evaluation of the results), asking your employees to rate different aspects of their work on a scale of 1 to 10. Some sample questions might include:
- how satisfied are they with the salary?
- how much do they enjoy their work-related tasks?
- how well does the schedule suit them?
- how overwhelmed are they by the mundane routines?
- how likely are they to recommend the company as an employer to their family or friends?
Optionally, an additional statement might be added to each question, asking employees how important each indicator is to them.
Let’s elaborate on the last item of the list, where we mentioned employees recommending the company to their close ones. That statement is considered one of the key indicators to evaluate employee loyalty:
- people who give a score of 9-10 are promoters – they might be considered the backbone of the company;
- those who give a score of 7-8 are passives – while they’re satisfied with their jobs, they don’t necessarily draw a flattering picture of the company;
- those who give a score of 6 and lower are detractors – they tend to have a negative outlook toward the company and are probably considering quitting.
Divide the number of promoters by the number of detractors, and you get eNPS – Employee Net Promoter Score. This metric can be used as the so-called “happiness index”: if it’s equal to 1 or even lower, you might be in trouble. By analyzing the detailed data on each question, you can determine the problem areas and points of growth.
Fairness and supervision
The survey we’ve described above is great and everything, but it has two noticeable shortcomings:
- it doesn’t suit operational management – if you follow every change in the company with this “happiness’ survey, it will become annoying for everybody rather quickly;
- it doesn’t always provide unbiased data – people tend to lie, sometimes even unintentionally, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Therefore, while it’s perfectly fine – and even advisable – to use this survey as a starting point, you need other tools to monitor the impact of the changes you make in the company.
Also, keep in mind that it’s not the happiness index itself that is of interest to you, but its “ripples,” the variables that influence it. The key one is employee productivity. After all, you are trying to aid in increasing the happiness of your employees to ensure that they work better and generate more money for the company (while making more money for themselves; everything is fair and square). So focus on monitoring employee productivity.
Besides, you can easily monitor your staff in real time and in a completely unobtrusive way. Kickidler employee monitoring software provides you with all the relevant data, helps you assess the impact of your decisions and understand if your employees are actually happy.
Here’s an example of implementing Kickidler in the project management unit of a small engineering company. The client was satisfied with the productivity of his subordinates, but he wanted to make sure that no one was working on any side hustles. And while all the employees proved to be conscientious, there were two things in the reports that alarmed him:
- One of the most valued employees was working at a very sluggish pace. He was managing his workload, but avoided taking on new tasks, which was quite surprising, seeing how until the last couple of years he was the one driving the company forward with his productivity and engagement.
- Another employee was exceeding his targets every day, but, simultaneously, needed more time to accomplish any job-related tasks.
In order to determine the reasons behind such discrepancies, our client talked to both of his subordinates. He discovered that the first employee had been feeling increasingly unfulfilled and like he had no purpose in the company, since tasks were being completed without him, everything was running smoothly, and there was “no need to be a hero” anymore. Without the initial positive feedback that he got used to, the employee lost his desire to work. The second specialist, on the contrary, tried to take on as much as possible, earned a reputation as someone who could do it all, but started experiencing a burnout in the process.
Both employees had long since stopped feeling happy at work, but that was in no way evident from the bare KPI metrics. Kickidler helped highlight the problem, and it was fixed through competent management – the first employee was assigned more challenging tasks and rewarded appropriately, while the other person was relieved of his workload, which was redistributed among his team members.
Moreover, the very fact of using an employee monitoring solution is an important contributor to the happiness level within your company. When you impose penalties or reward your employees based on transparent monitoring data, they tend to trust your integrity and judgment more, which is one of the most important criteria for many people.
Make sure that you’re being attentive to the needs of your subordinates, while keeping things unobtrusive and fair. You'll notice your people becoming happier in no time!