Why happiness?

Of all the metrics you can choose from to measure your team experience, why should it be happiness?

Think about a question like “How engaged are you?”: it’s difficult to answer genuinely. But “How happy are you?” feels natural and gives you a clear good-bad signal.

How happiness builds modern, agile teams

Happiness is at the core of all positive emotions. These three are particularly useful at work:

Enthusiasm – fabulous for creativity.
Enthusiasm is an active energy that helps people create and seize opportunities. It enables the cognitive leap essential for innovation.

Interest – brilliant for productivity
Interest fuels focus and staying power. This energy keeps us committed through the short-term tasks that are mundane or challenging.

Affection – essential for retention
Affection is a social emotion that helps us build relationships. People rarely leave teams when they really like one another.

Happiness as a KPI

Measure in real time what makes employees at work happy and identify areas of improvement.

Increasing average happiness in a team by half a point on our 5 point scale is associated with an increase in productivity of over 7%.

Happiness applies to retention and creativity as well. The 20% least happy employees are twice as likely to leave their job than the happiest employees. Happy employees are more creative and better at processing complex information.

Sounds obvious, right? In a 2013 survey of workplace conditions, Gallup found that out of 1 million employees, the highest scoring teams are 21% more productive than the lowest teams. This checks out with our own client data—we found that the happiest teams were 28% more productive than the least happy teams.

If you are going to prioritise a team performance indicator, make it happiness.

Check out The Happiness KPI in action

Five Ways to team happiness

What 23,000 employees in 8 countries can teach you about workplace happiness.

In 2008, our team was commissioned by the UK government to look at mental health and well-being. The goal? To provide evidence-based actions to improve personal well-being. In 2016, we used that research as inspiration to find the key positive actions that contribute to building happy teams. Hover over each of the five icons to learn more.

Friendships. Laughter. A sense of belonging.

It is much easier to do great work when we are happy in the company of others. Teams who encourage, support and appreciate each other make problem solving, innovation and success possible.


Flexibility. Fair pay. Space for people’s life outside work.

Being treated with fairness and respect is fundamental to happier work. People flourish when organizations are responsive to their needs and value the energy they put in. When people feel cared for, it frees them up to focus on their jobs.

Be fair

Trust. Delegate. The opportunity to self-organize.

Sharing responsibility and playing to people’s strengths can unleash an amazing potential in organizations. When people are able to be themselves and use their judgement, they do great work.


Stretch. Enjoyment. Setting realistic expectations.

Contrary to myth, people feel happiest when they are absorbed and progressing their work. By making jobs interesting organizations pull people into a space where they learn and achieve great things.


Vision. Purpose. Being part of a bigger picture.

Doing a job that we feel is genuinely worthwhile is a great source of motivation in our lives and it can sustain us through challenging times. Seeing beyond narrow business goals to how we help other people makes work more meaningful.


The Work Happy Report

That research we just mentioned? It went into this report that we wrote with recruitment company Robert Half International. The research was referenced worldwide with Forbes saying it “reveals the drivers behind employee happiness and how businesses can nurture a positive work culture.” We’re quite proud of it. We hope you like it.

Download it here

“Nic’s work has been at the forefront of measuring happiness and showing how improving it leads to a more profitable business.”

Tony Hsieh
CEO Zappos.com

P.S. Why you won’t hear us talking about employee engagement

Most companies out there talk about employee engagement. We don’t! The research shows that it doesn’t actually work: about 80% of managers don’t act on the data and most employees feel it makes no difference. In fact most people think of employee engagement as “getting more work out of me for the same money.”

Read more here

Now you know why happiness works.

Try Friday for six weeks. Learn first-hand why teams are ditching employee engagement surveys in favor of pulse checks—an enjoyable part of the week that everyone learns from.

Friday, don’t leave it to another day.