What Attributes Of The Workplace Can Promote Happiness?

6 workplace attributes that affect an employee’s happiness at work.
  • Research demonstrates a direct correlation between workers’ happiness, productivity, and creativity.
  • If being happy is good for business, it only follows that unhappy workers are bad for business.
  • Based on research from Mindspace, here are 6 workplace attributes that affect a person’s happiness at work.

Flexible workspace provider, Mindspace, recently published the findings of its 2019 Employee Happiness Survey. The company decided to focus on happiness at work as it believes it should be a critical business consideration. 

“People spend most of the hours of their day at work – if they’re happier at work, it not only can affect how they are outside of work, at home and in their communities, but also how they behave at work, and is therefore an exceptionally significant factor for businesses to monitor.”

Previous research has shown that there is a direct correlation between happiness and productivity and creativity. If being happy is good for business, it only follows that unhappy workers are bad for business.

To understand the current state of happiness and what contributes to a positive experience at work, Mindpace set out to explore the topic, asking people what makes them happy, and which workplace attributes help promote happiness. 

The report found that companies can influence employee happiness in several key ways. And they should make happiness a priority in their agenda.

Quick Facts and Figures

  • Worker productivity increases by approximately 12% for happier employees
  • Happiness can increase creativity
  • Happy employees stay longer at their jobs
  • Happy employees create a more positive work environment
  • Unhappy workers lead to toxic workplaces, which can cost companies up to $12,500 
  • The good news is that people, for the most part, are happy at work
    • Nearly 84% of respondents said they are happy or very happy. 
    • The average response was 3.2 out of 4
    • 94% of workers in the U.S. and the Netherlands are happy
    • UK workers are the least happy, with nearly 24% reporting being not very  happy or not happy at all
  • Not everyone is the same kind of happy at work
    • Men report being happier at work than women, except in Poland where the opposite is true
    • Millennials are significantly happier than people in their 40s or 50s
    • Managers and business owners are happier than employees
      • 45% of all managers are happy vs only 27% of employees 
  • 73% of self-employed people are happy with their current work (a significant percent compared to just 27% of people employed by a company)

What Makes People Happy at Work?

Mindspace’s survey found that there are 6 work and workplace attributes that affect a person’s happiness at work. 

  1. Having a sense of purpose
  2. Feeling valued
  3. Access to wellness programs
  4. Workplace environment
  5. Flexibility
  6. Workplace culture

1. Having a sense of purpose

People who have a sense of purpose at work tend to be more dedicated to their job, they are more successful, and they are happier. 

According to Mindspace, “the correlation between having a sense of purpose at work and happiness is very strong: over 75% of very happy people report having a strong sense of purpose at their jobs. Conversely, those who are not very happy report a low sense of purpose at their job.”

Though most people reported feeling a sense of purpose at their jobs, this was especially true for people over 55. Interestingly, yet not shockingly, business owners and managers felt significantly more purpose at their jobs than employees. 

2. Feeling Valued

Workers who feel valued by their company tend to perform better, are more engaged, and feel motivated. Mindspace found that 80% of people feel valued at work to some extent; this number jumps to 90% for employees who feel happy at work. In contrast, 80% of people who aren’t happy at work say they also don’t feel valued. 

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Showing employees that the company cares and that they value people can certainly pay off. 

3. Access to Wellness Programs

The study found that “happy people tend to participate in wellness programs more than others, though whether they’re happier because of the wellness programs or they’re more likely to participate in those activities to begin with, remains an open question.”

Still, Mindspace found that there is a strong correlation between happiness and the importance of wellness at an organization. This isn’t surprising, as offering wellness perks and benefits to employees is just one of the many ways to show them that a company cares. 

4. Workplace Environment 

The survey found that people who work from home are less happy than those who work from an office. But not all office environments are created equal. 

75% of people feel that working in a more collaborative environment would make them happier. This goes both for self-employed and office workers. “People who are self-employed also say they’d be happier working in a more collaborative environment.”

Beyond collaboration, physical work environment attributes matter. 

“On a basic level, people want to work in a nice space with a healthy environment. 30% of employees worldwide say that good air quality and lighting have the greatest impact on their mental wellbeing at work. Of happy employees, 40% said good air quality affects their wellbeing, while only 20% of unhappy employees say the same.”

Companies should also focus on creating inspiring workplaces if they seek to improve employee engagement. Minspace’s survey found that “35% said they weren’t engaged because their workplace environment was uninspiring.”

Pay also plays a key role in engagement, with 34% of people saying they’re not engaged because they’re not getting paid enough.

5. Flexibility

Previous studies have shown that flexibility is the key ingredient for a happy workforce. Mindspace’s recent survey confirms this. 

“Employee performance and well-being thrive in flexible environments.” 

About 40% of people surveyed indicate their work day was flexible and they can come late or leave the office early. Though flexible schedules are an important part of flexibility, workers are also interested in having flexibility in terms of work location and only 30% of employees report having the ability to work from home or another location on occasion. 

70% of unhappy employees do not have a flexible work environment; not only are they unhappy, but they are also unengaged, with up to a third saying that their lack of engagement is due to bad work-life balance. 

6. Workplace Culture

Happy workers lead to better workplace cultures. Unhappy employees lead to toxic workplace cultures, which is not only detrimental at the individual level, but also — and more importantly — group level. 

Still, workplace culture needs to be improved as only 10% of happy employees described their workplace as fun and exciting and overall, less than 5% of employees (happy or unhappy) find their workplace to be fun and exciting. 

15% of survey respondents find their workplace boring and 40% of unhappy employees find their workplace to be mundane. The survey also found that engagement can improve the overall workplace culture by creating a more inspiring workplace. For its part, greater engagement is encouraged by wellness activities.

The bottom line is that happy employees are better employees. To nurture happiness in the workplace, companies should offer flexibility and inspiring workplaces and they should focus on driving engagement, making people feel valued, and ensuring that employees feel a sense of purpose.

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