What Makes Workers Happy?

What are the top drivers of workplace happiness? Staffing firm Robert Half recently asked this question of 12,000 U.S. and Canadian workers for a new report, and the answers are surprising.

According to the report, happiness at work is something nearly everyone wants, but it varies by an employee’s age, gender and field, among other factors. Here are some of the 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 percent) 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 Company Size and Occupation

  • 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. In the United States, 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 percent of men saying they are able to influence business decisions, compared to 47 percent of women.

What lessons should businesses learn from this?

The top ones are that people like to feel proud of the organizations they work in, and they want to feel that they make a difference. Fostering these qualities in the workplace in turn builds happiness, productivity and loyalty.

Copyright Today’s Credit Unions