The year 2020 saw drastic changes to work cultures, behaviours, and arrangements globally as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in retrenchment, pay cuts, and new work-from-home structures, all factors that led to increased amounts of work stress and that may impact mental well-being.
Singapore-based HR consultancy Align Group recently did a survey from November 2020 to January 2021 with more than 850 respondents, to find out how happy they are at work. The survey was conducted online, with responses from various industries including retail, service, tourism, healthcare, and more.
Despite the setbacks, Align Group recently found in its 2020/2021 Workplace Happiness Survey that the nation’s overall workplace happiness score is 68 out of 100, which is a sharp increase from 59 in 2014.
According to the consultancy group, the Happiness Index in its survey is derived in consideration of the four key workplace happiness categories – namely one’s basic work needs, sense of belonging, engagement, and well-being.
As seen in the infographic above, 63 per cent of the respondents are happy working with a happiness index between 70-100, while 14 per cent of them are “unhappy” with a happiness index below 50.
Other key insights from the survey include the fact that baby boomers are the happiest at work with an average happiness index of 72.8 out of 100 on the happy band.
Interestingly, employees who do not work from home are the ones with the highest work-life balance.
The survey was based on positive psychology and an adaptation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that is divided 28 factors into four levels, which are:
- Basic needs at work (fairness, respect, resources, salary, work-life, balance, performance expectations, trust in management)
- Belonging (personal bonding, teamwork, culture fit, contribution, co-worker’s competency, psychological safety, trust of supervisor)
- Engagement (responsibilities, use of strengths, achievement, pride, autonomy, recognition, learning)
- Well-being (gratitude, positive emotions, meaning, resilience, efficacy, optimism, hope). It studies the workplace happiness factors important to happiness at work
Employee happiness is strongly correlated to staff’s desire to resign in the company
Additionally, the survey results revealed that employees with high workplace happiness index have up to four times less desire to resign.
It is also noteworthy that employees who maxed out their happiness scores tend to display a small desire to resign.
The implications to a company would then be to work towards improving employee’s workplace happiness to reduce attrition rates, but some employees would leave nonetheless, and these may be the happiest employees.
Top three factors that impact workplace experience
The survey further revealed that the top three factors that have the most impact on workplace happiness are pride, positive emotions, and gratitude.
Pride (“I am proud working in my company”) is ranked as having the highest impact on workplace happiness.
Recognising this, examples of what employers can do to foster more pride at the workplace includes practising the company mission and values statements daily, sharing about the company’s history and key milestones, and encourage employees to initiate activities and project that they will be proud of.
Positive emotions (“I often feel positive at work”) came in second on the impact it has on workplace happiness.
An example that companies can use to quickly generate positive emotions is to have their leaders be conscious of the words they use at work – be it in meetings, conversations, or even emails.
Encourage greater use of positively framed sentences that focuses on solutions that can be worked on, rather than blames and problems that cannot be resolved.
Gratitude (“I am grateful to my company”) came in third on the impact it has on workplace happiness.
Employees tend to feel gratitude when they notice that something good has come into their lives, and they appreciate it.
To foster more of it at the workplace, examples of what companies could do is to make that “something good” more apparent by having frequent gratitude sharing sessions where employees talk about the good things that occurred at work.
Encouraging employees to openly appreciate one another’s work is also a good way to bolster gratitude.
Baby boomers are the happiest
Besides that, the survey found that baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) are the happiest with an average workplace happiness index of 72.8 on the happy band compared with Gen X (1965-85) at 67.3, Millennials (1980-94) at 67.5, and Gen Z (1995-2012) at 67.7.
Baby boomers also outscored the other generations in all seven well-being factors.
Adapting to the new normal
2020 is a year where many had explored working from home for the first time.
In adapting to the new normal, the survey found that employees are almost equally happy working from home or in the office regardless of their work-life balance ratings.
The infographic above does show that those who work in the office believe that they have better work-life balance.
Despite the many changes 2020 brought, the survey by Align Group deduced that most local employees are “happy” at work, with baby boomers being the happiest.
With the current pandemic situation still ongoing, and uncertainties still lying ahead, employees can consider enhancing factors of pride, positive emotions, and gratitude at work for a happier working environment, both at the office and virtually.