What sets successful businesses apart from unsuccessful ones, and guarantees better performance among employees? What creates loyalty among your staff, more creative ideas in the board room and better bottom lines each quarter? It’s a solution so simple that it’s a wonder so many corporations are in the dark. The answer, quite simply, is happiness.
The data supporting a happiness-healthy workplace link is well established. Forbes ran a study that showed happy employees were 12 percent more productive than their unhappy peers, and this uptick alone generated a 3 percent rise in GDP and economic growth. And happiness is the gift that keeps on giving: When employees engage and enjoy themselves, they create a more positive work environment that leads to higher rates of happiness for their coworkers, as well.
But while it’s all well and good to know that happiness is a boon for business, it does little good if employers don’t know how to create an environment that fosters it. So we wanted to drill down into this phenomenon and get some hard data that can be applied across the board, offering enterprises some useful tools and tactics to help foster happiness in their own companies.
We were sure there must be a common thread uniting workplaces that created a sense of well-being and joy.
In our own recent Mindspace 2019 Employee Happiness Survey we surveyed 5,000 people in seven different countries: the US, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Israel, Poland, and Romania. Participants came from a wide range of industries, including finance, engineering, law, consulting, information technology, healthcare, government, transport, and more. In the UK, we polled 1000 employees from across the country and focused on employee engagement and productivity, wellness in the office and why and what makes us happy at work.
Overall, UK employees are happy in their job situations, with over 73% either happy or very happy in their job situation. Brits are, however, less happy than other global employees, ranking at the bottom of the overall happiness scale. Here’s how the numbers stacked up:
Percentage of happy employees:
- US - 93 per cent
- 2. Netherlands - 91 per cent
- 3. Poland - 83 per cent
- 4. Romania - 82 per cent
- 5. Germany - 81 per cent
- 6. Israel - 81 per cent
- 7. UK – 73 per cent
Among the Brits that we surveyed, some useful themes came up again and again. On average, 15% of Brits loved going to work to chat to their colleagues, and 15% were keen to go solely to do their job. Yorkshire and the Humber, Scotland and the North West topped the charts here with around a quarter of people in these regions simply wanting to go to work to do their jobs.
When asked what physical features would have the most positive impact on their mental well-being at work, Brits overwhelmingly chose good lighting, natural sunlight, greenery and good air quality. Over two thirds of Brits voted for natural sunlight and better lighting and a quarter voted for good air and greenery. These scored far higher than other notable factors including comfortable seating, healthier furniture and bright work spaces.
Lighting is critically important, and one of the easiest quick changes an employer to make to foster a happier workspace. A surprisingly large number (70 per cent) of employees surveyed would love natural or good light in their work environment - a simple change that a good office design can solve easily.
Wellness opportunities, in terms of health-related activities like yoga or sport, ergonomic desk furniture and healthy choices in a company cafeteria, also serve as a strong foundation for building happiness. On average 80% of participants in our survey felt a company priority toward wellness was important to them – in Wales it was a staggering 94%!
Flexibility of space, time and the ability to work remotely also plays a huge factor. In the UK, over 60% of those surveyed either ‘very’ or ‘quite’ flexible in their workplace. Flexibility makes UK employees the happiest - 42.19% of them feel flexible work time is the perk with the highest value, followed by financial bonuses, free food and the option to work from home or another location.
These factors may all seem small, but there’s a reason they make such a big impact. Good light, green plants, and the opportunity to control one’s schedule and take care of one’s body — these are all factors that create a sense of value for employees, and a feeling that their presence in the office matters to the bosses. When employees feel that they matter, they also feel secure, inspired, and happy. And happiness, more than anything else, is simply good business. The numbers alone prove it.