Why having happy employees matters

The pursuit of happiness is a fundamental element of American culture—and today’s workers take that directive seriously. Across generations, people in the modern workforce feel more empowered to find happiness at work as well as at home—and to change jobs if they have to in order to find that happiness.

By polling the more than 3 million people who use and respond to our surveys each day, our survey research team can get unrivaled access to the thoughts and opinions of the people in today’s workforce—what drives them, what excites them, and what makes them happy.

Using our research as a guide, here’s a breakdown on why the happiness of your employees is so important and what your organization can do to improve their satisfaction at work:

1. Happy employees are far more productive than unhappy ones

The relationship between employee happiness, employee engagement, and employee performance has been clearly established through numerous research studies.

  • Happier employees are more engaged. And engaged employees show increased productivity as well as a far lower rate of absenteeism from work.
  • A healthy work environment matters. A positive work culture encourages employee friendships, improves personal well-being, and ultimately benefits your bottom line. It expands employee resources and skills through improved work relationships, which in turn increases worker creativity and problem-solving abilities.
  • A sense of community at work is important. Feeling that their fellow employees and managers actually care about them helps employees to be more resilient when facing difficulties and challenges—both at work and in their personal lives.
  •  Happy employees are less stressed. High stress leads to a number of emotional and physiological problems that can result in higher employee absenteeism. Having happy employees means that more of them show up for work, and this in turn, prevents your work culture from depreciating.

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2. Employees want to do what they are best at

Employees today are looking for far more than simply a paycheck. They want a sense of purpose and the chance to improve their work skills. 60% of employees feel that being able to do what they do best in their job is very important. And having your employees engaged in work that leverages their strengths strongly benefits your company as it allows for productivity break throughs and lower employee turnover.

3. Employees prioritize work life balance

Once upon a time, people looked at work and “life” as two separate things. But in a world where everyone is constantly connected, these two elements tend to overlap. Employees today consider both their jobs and their personal lives to be equal priorities. They are often unwilling to compromise one for the other. In fact, we’ve seen 53% of employees report that a role which allows them to have a better work-life balance and a stronger sense of personal well-being is very important.

  • Increasingly, workers want to be able to adjust their schedules and work remotely whenever possible. This allows them the flexibility needed to take care of life concerns.
  • Companies should highlight the benefits they offer to help employees with their work-life balance.
  • Work-life balance means different things to different people. This is why open communication and knowing your employees’ priorities is essential.
  • Female employees are more likely than males to prioritize their own work-life balance.
  • Both millennials and Gen-Xs are more likely than baby boomers to prioritize overall happiness both at work and at home.

4. Well-being matters more than “fun”

There was a time when the idea of a positive work environment involved putting greens, foosball tables, and group employee activities. But times have changed, and the focus now is on well-being.

  • A fun work environment provides only short-term rewards for employees. This doesn’t lead to lasting happy employees or work engagement.
  • Well-being initiatives address important issues like decreasing stress and increasing emotional resilience. The best, most engaged employees are often the ones most likely to face burnout from consistently high levels of work. Improving their well-being keeps them at work and productive.
  • Opportunities for employees to pause, refresh, and re-engage increase employee engagement and reduce burnout. Studies over the years have shown consistently that the opportunity to take frequent, short breaks improves focus, mood, and productivity. This means you may want to consider allowing employees to change gears and check on social media or personal texts during the workday and encourage chats at the watercooler or coffee station.

5. Unhappy employees will leave to find happiness

We live in a time when employee turnover has become a concern for most employers. In the past, it was expected that employees would stay in their job for an extended period of time—even as long as 20 or 30 years. In today’s world, however, it’s common for employees to spend just one or two years at a company before moving onto another opportunity that offers a better work culture.

  • A recent Gallup Poll found that half of all employees were searching for a new job or on the lookout for a better work opportunity.
  • The study also found that 51% of employees would leave their current job for one that offers flextime, and 37% would leave to work offsite at least part of the time.

So, how do you know if your employees are happy? Use employee satisfaction surveys to gather anonymous and honest feedback from your team. The responses give you an opportunity to identify and address pressing issues as well as prioritize the top areas that lead to happy employees. By focusing on ensuring that your workers are satisfied in their current jobs and with your company, you’ll not only be able to retain existing employees, but also attract quality applicants.

At SurveyMonkey, we offer additional resources as well as a custom built employee engagement solution to help you monitor and foster, happy, healthy, and productive employees.