How to boost happiness at work

Back to Lifestyle
How to boost employee happiness: a happy workplace sees less turnover

Boundless’ latest research findings can influence your policies on stress and wellbeing among staff

Help your employees to feel valued as an individual, enjoy their job and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Is it really any business of an employer whether or not its employees are happy? If your answer is ‘no’, you’ve got some catching up to do – any manager’s response would hopefully be a resounding yes, and not only in work hours either.

There’s a sound business case for this, before we even begin to consider any social benefits. Writing for the CIPD, Liz Zeidler of Happy City, an organisation that supports leaders across society to take happiness seriously, says that “a key impact [of happiness] on the bottom line is a reduction in staff turnover. Happier employees stay in the job longer; the 20% least happy employees are twice as likely to leave their job in the next quarter than the 20% happiest employees. Productivity is another benefit… People in positive moods are better at lateral thinking, process complex information more speedily and have a wider attention span.”

How to boost employee happiness: public sector work like teaching can be stressful

These conclusions have been backed up time and time again by experts and their research. Knowing this, Boundless decided it was time to ask employees just how happy they are – after all, while there have been countless surveys and white papers concerned with stress in the public sector workplace, how often do we stop to consider whether people at work are actually happy?

Read more of our wellbeing content:

Discover how singing can boost your mental and physical wellbeing

Take better care of yourself with our stress-busting tips

Check out five ways to live a healthy active lifestyle

How happiness affects your employees

The Boundless Happiness Survey set out to build a picture of employees’ happiness, working with Censuswide to poll more than 2,000 workers in the public and private sectors in order build a picture of how happy they are and the factors affecting this. The result hopefully provides this, and will also help employers and managers take steps through the working environment, perks and structures that might help to improve happiness levels for their staff.

What did the Boundless Happiness Survey reveal? The good news is that 72% of people responded that they were either happy or very happy, with a further 18% who couldn’t decide – which means there are only 10% who reported being unhappy.

As you’d expect, the figures for happiness at work were lower, but perhaps not as significantly as you might expect – 62% were happy while 14% were unhappy. That’s very encouraging news, but it still leaves a gap for employers to close.

What is less encouraging is that the survey shows that workers in the public sector come out worse of almost every measure of happiness and stress compared with those in the private sector.

How to boost employee happiness: public sector work like nursing can be stressful

Considering that many public sector roles come with a certain level of stress – policing, the NHS, teaching and social services for example – this is understandable to a degree – and the survey also shows that people in those types of roles have a high inbuilt resistance to stress. However, it’s important to address the fact that they are statistically unhappier than those in the private sector. For example, 21% of police officers say they are unhappy in work compared with the overall average of 14%.

How to boost your employees’ happiness

Of course, the next question has to be, how can employers, and particularly public sector employers, increase their employees’ happiness levels? The Happiness Indicator, researched by The Happiness Index, identifies 10 factors that affect happiness in the workplace and the top three were feeling valued as an individual, doing a job that you enjoy and work-life balance.

Meanwhile, the Boundless Happiness Survey focuses on what makes people happy in general, and the top three responses were spending time with family, spending time with friends and making memories. The common factor here is work-life balance.

So how can you help to boost the happiness of your workforce? Here, the public sector is in good stead as it’s almost twice as likely than private sector organisations to have a standalone workplace wellbeing strategy in place, according to the CIPD’s 2019 Health and Wellbeing at Work survey.

The same research found that budget pressures is one of the top reasons for not purchasing wellbeing support packages, so it’s welcome news that significant improvements to employee happiness can be made without high costs. Our Boundless wellbeing package has no cost to the employer – your employees join Boundless themselves for £27.

How to boost employeee happiness: happy employees are more productive

“Many of the measures employers can make to promote happiness at work require an investment in time and effort rather than financial outlay,” says Joe Wedgwood of The Happiness Index. “There are, of course, things you can do that cost money such as investing in more away days, but it's arguably more effective to put energy into making sure that staff feel valued at work.”

Similarly, there are effective ways to provide employee benefits and encourage workers to make the most of their time away from work in order to improve work-life balance that don’t come with a hefty cost. Look out for more on this in our next update.

Images © Getty

Look out for further articles in this series – the second will be online next month.