• On a scale of 0-100, employees ranked an average of 67 for happiness in their jobs
  • 79% see workplace happiness as joint responsibility between employee and employer
  • 60% take pridein working for their organisation, the top driver associated with employee happiness

 As organisations discover the effect a motivated and happy workforce has on productivity, Robert Half’s new report It’s time we all work happy™: The secrets of the happiest companies and employees reveals the drivers behind employee happiness and how businesses can nurture a positive work culture. Research conducted among 2,000 UK employees has found that on a scale of 0-100, employees ranked an average of 67 when questioned about happiness in their jobs.

The importance of being happy at work is also universally recognised by 84% of employees. When asked about who is primarily responsible for their happiness, most respondents (79%) saw it as an equal balance between employee and employer. Robert Half’s research reveals there are several factors that drive happiness. Respondents named pride (51%), fairness and respect (51%) and feeling appreciated (50%) as the ingredients they associate most with happiness.

The top five ingredients of employee happiness

FactorsPercentage of those who associate ingredients with happinessPercentage who score well on each ingredient
Fairness and respect51%67%
Feeling appreciated50%50%

“The foundations for building a happy workforce are finding employees that have a genuine interest in the job, the right skills and temperament so they can develop satisfying and fulfilling careers in the long-term,” commented Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director at Robert Half UK. “With fulfilled employees, organisations can nurture a positive work culture. This has a tremendous impact on both staff morale and the business as a whole – boosting satisfaction levels, enabling companies to remain competitive and directly impacting the bottom line.”

Reflecting that workplace happiness isn’t just defined through status and salary, education and training also emerged as two important pillars for workplace happiness. For the clear majority, work isn’t just about pay, with over a third (37%) willing to accept a lower salary to secure their ideal job. The research also shows that those in more skilled roles tend to be happier and more interested in work. For example, managers in the UK reported higher levels of happiness (71) and interest (77) than those in clerical, administrative or secretarial positions who ranked 61 and 63 respectively. There is also a general pattern where younger workers aged 18-34 feel they have more opportunities for learning (62%) and constructive feedback (53%), which makes them happier. While, senior staff in executive positions feel like they are using their strengths more (90%), that their skills are closely matched to their jobs (88%) and that they have greater influence (84%) and freedom (84%), which contributes to their happiness.

The top drivers effecting happiness for each age group

 Rank #1Rank #2Rank #3
18-34Feeling appreciatedPrideAccomplishment
35-54PrideFairness and respectAccomplishment
55+Fairness and respectFeeling appreciatedGood team management

Nic Marks, CEO and founder of Happiness Works, noted that happiness isn’t about feeling cheerful every day or avoiding challenges. “Work can be difficult and demanding, but if employees are given the opportunity to progress, grow their skill sets and get the training they need, then they tend to be happy and do better work as a result.”

Many employees highlighted that the people they work and interact with daily contribute to how happy they are at work. Overall, four in five UK employees believe they have good relationships with people on their immediate team and over a third (38%) highlighted inter-team relationships as an important driver for happiness and interest at work. In addition, those who have regular meetings score higher on happiness (74) and interest (76). In comparison, those 10% who never meet their team have the lowest level of happiness and interest, highlighting that a basic level of inter-team relationships is important to keep employees engaged.

“Most business leaders acknowledge that workplace happiness has a tangible impact on productivity and profitability,” concludes Sheridan. “For businesses struggling to attract and retain workers with in-demand skills, our report provides a roadmap for forging deeper engagement and commitment levels among staff. By creating a positive culture that rewards employees then workforce satisfaction levels will rise and positively influence the business.”