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 might impact mental well-being.
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, a sharp increase from 59 in 2014. The Happiness Index was derived in consideration of the 4 key workplace happiness categories namely one’s basic work needs, sense of belonging, engagement, and well-being. As seen in Chart 1, 63 percent of the respondents are happy working with a happiness index between 70-100, while 14 percent of them were “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 divided 28 factors into 4 levels namely 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) and Well-Being (gratitude, positive emotions, meaning, resilience, efficacy, optimism, hope). It studies the workplace happiness factors important to happiness at work.
From the results, employees with high workplace happiness index have up to 4 times less desire to resign. It can also be noted 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 keep in mind that some employees would leave nonetheless, and these might be your happiest employees.
The survey found the top 3 factors that have the most impact on workplace happiness to be 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 and even emails. Encourage greater use of positively framed sentences focusing 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. We tend to feel gratitude when we notice that something good has come into our lives and we 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.
The survey also 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 7 Well-Being factors.
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. Chart 7 does show that those who work in the office believe that they have a better work-life balance.
Despite the many changes 2020 brought, the survey found that most local employees are “happy” at work, with baby boomers being the happiest. The current pandemic situation is still on-going, and uncertainties are 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.