How to Measure Employee Happiness

Author Image Written by Garth Belic

Learn how to measure employee happiness and improve productivity, engagement, and retention. A guide for HR managers and leaders. 

As a HR manager or business leader, you're likely aware that employee happiness isn't just about shiny office perks or gimmicky team-building exercises. While deep-seated employee happiness stems from a sense of engagement, fulfilment, and connection at work, how you measure it matters just as much. 

Whether through regular surveys, open feedback platforms or understanding the signs of a happy employee, we'll provide the tools you need to measure, monitor, and ultimately improve the happiness factor within your team. Let's dive in. 



A recent study shows engaged employees can be up to 43% more productive than their less enthusiastic colleagues, proving how critical job satisfaction is when it comes to productivity. And at the end of the day, a content and enthusiastic workforce contributes a lot to the growth of a company.

But what makes an employee happy? Is it long vacations or free lunches? While those perks can temporarily improve team morale, persistent employee happiness requires more than that. The employer's role (or yours as a HR manager) is to inspire, motivate, and engage employees on a deeper level, stimulating them beyond superficial perks.

Employee engagement is the key - it unlocks potential, sparks productivity, and fuels sustainable business growth. When employees are engaged, they're doing more than biding their time or doing the bare minimum to get by. They go above and beyond, because they feel aligned with their work and the overall goals of the organisation.

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Their contribution goes above their specific roles, improving the broader outcomes of the business.

And the benefits are reflected far beyond productivity. Engaged employees contribute to higher employee retention, increased customer satisfaction, lower absenteeism (41% lower, to be specific), better employee health, and fewer workplace injuries (a staggering 70% reduction). These improvements provide organisations with a significant competitive edge.

Now, think about the costs involved in hiring and training. By enhancing employee retention, employers can save resources and accumulate the rich experience gained by long-term employees that's invaluable for the organisation.

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However, the complexity of emotions and subjectivity of happiness means you need a nuanced approach for accurate measurement. When it comes to employees, happy attitudes and smiles on their faces often come down to knowing when they’re feeling a certain way and why. Without the right measurements in place, you won’t be able to successfully gauge these sentiments.


Commitment and Motivation 

Employee commitment and motivation are among the most important indicators of employee happiness. A committed and motivated employee is not only loyal to the organisation but also enthusiastic about carrying out their duties, boosting productivity. 


Sense of Purpose 

An individual's sense of purpose in their work role can be a reliable signal of happiness. Employees who perceive their jobs as meaningful and aligned with their personal goals and values typically exhibit increased job satisfaction. This, in turn, can lead to enhanced happiness and an overall positive attitude towards work. 


Passion for Work and Organisation 

Another key indicator is an employee's passion for their work and the organisation. They are more likely to exhibit happiness when passionate about their duties and tasks. Additionally, employees who resonate with the company's mission and vision can enhance job satisfaction and happiness. 

Employee Well-being 

An individual's well-being is a big indicator of whether you have happy employees in your workforce or not. This facet encompasses a wide range of factors, including physical health, mental health, work-life balance, and overall job satisfaction. There is a proven relationship between an employee's well-being and business outcomes, underscoring its importance in the larger happiness metric. 

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There are several tools available in the market that can be adapted to different organisational contexts, all designed to effectively measure employee satisfaction. 


Employee Engagement Surveys 

The classic employee happiness survey is a good tool for measuring happy employees. These surveys seek to document sentiment, job satisfaction, work-life balance, and overall engagement. 

A typical survey consists of carefully tailored questions designed to evaluate the vital aspects of an employee's experience, including commitment, motivation, work-life balance, sense of purpose, and passion for the organisation. These questionnaires can deliver a wealth of information, providing the necessary groundwork on which to take action. 

You will most likely learn things like:

  • Whether a better work-life balance is needed or if more flexible working schedules are in demand.
  • Employee concerns that otherwise would have gone unvoiced.
  • Opportunities for team building activities to reassure employees that your workforce is united and they feel included.
  • Where employee recognition needs to be improved.
  • Whether your business is actually doing well to prioritise employee happiness.


Focus Groups 

Focus groups offer a more qualitative approach to measuring employee happiness. Here, a preselected group of employees (not always happy employees) is brought together for an engaging discussion involving their work experience, the corporate culture, and common grievances that are making unhappy employees. 

This method offers invaluable insights into the group dynamics and interpersonal relationships that might influence overall company happiness. 


Pulse Surveys 

Pulse surveys, an agile and lightweight variant of the engagement survey, focus on maintaining a real-time gauge of employee sentiments. Conducted more frequently and typically with less formal questions, pulse surveys effectively capture the 'pulse' of the employees' feelings. By doing so, they can provide critical data that signal any possible shifts in employee happiness over time. 

By incorporating and using these and other comprehensive tools, HR managers and business leaders can effectively measure and take action to improve employee happiness and reap the benefits of increased productivity, competitiveness, and overall organisational growth.

Remember, incorporating team-building activities and other techniques can go a long way toward encouraging employees to foster a more positive work environment. 

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  • Employee engagement is crucial for long-term happy employees and business growth.
  • Engaged employees go above and beyond their roles, contributing to broader outcomes of the business.
  • Most employees who feel engaged go on to promote higher employee retention, increased customer satisfaction, lower absenteeism, better employee health, and fewer workplace injuries.
  • Knowing the key indicators of employee happiness, such as commitment, motivation, sense of purpose, passion for work and organisation, and employee well-being, is important for promoting a productive and positive work environment and fostering a healthy organisational culture.
  • Accurately measuring employee happiness through surveys, focus groups, and pulse surveys can help both internal and external HR managers and business leaders take necessary actions to improve employee happiness, leading to increased productivity, competitiveness, and overall organisational growth.