Measuring employee happiness is a great idea.
Sure, it has its problems. Any time you measure anything, you run the risk of getting bad data, the wrong data or making bad decisions based on the data.
But it still makes sense for two main reasons.
First and most obviously, if you measure employee happiness right, it can actually guide efforts to improve the workplace by identifying organizational problems and strengths.
Also, most business leaders are highly results oriented and data driven and find it hard to value things they can’t put a number on. Tracking employee happiness with hard numbers in some way can bolster organizational commitment to happiness initiatives.
So what can you measure? This can go way beyond just an annual job satisfaction survey. It’s essential to find the metrics that are relevant to your employees, your customers and your organization.
Here are all the potential ways we’ve come up with to measure employee happiness. Did we forget any? Write a comment if you have one we didn’t include.
Measure employee mood
If you want to know how happy your employees are, you can quite simply ask them. The traditional way is of course to run annual satisfaction surveys but I’m very skeptical about that approach.
You can measure things like:
- Psychological capital
You can conduct the measurement using surveys, apps, mood boards or even just tennis balls.
Other employee metrics
Two other obvious employee-related metrics are:
- Employee turnover
Each of these have a direct bottom line impact and are directly correlated with employee happiness.
Happy organizations also attract more and better new hires. That means that you could also measure on metrics like:
- Applications received per opening posted
- Time to fill positions
- Rate of acceptance of job offers
- Rate of successful hires (how many new employees stay at least x months)
This will be especially relevant in fast-growing workplaces or in industries where there is strong competition for the best talent.
We know that happy employees make the customers happy. Some potential metrics are:
- Customer happiness / satisfaction
- Customer loyalty / repeat business
- Brand perception
We also know that happy employees do a better job, so measuring happiness could also mean tracking metrics like:
- Quality / errors
- Workplace safety / accidents
- Success rate of innovation / change projects
Given that happy employees are less likely to engage in bad behavior at work, we could also track metrics like:
- HR complaints
- Fraud / stealing
This area is a little more speculative but some people have suggested measuring things like:
- Cortisol in saliva samples
- Blood pressure
- Sleep time and quality
These do raise some ethical issues around privacy and bodily autonomy.
Measuring employee happiness can help efforts to improve a workplace and strengthen leadership’s focus and commitment to these efforts.
While traditional satisfaction surveys have a long list of problems, there are many other metrics you can look at.
No workplace should measure all of these metrics. Depending on the industry, situation and type of employees only a small subset of these will be relevant. It’s up to each workplace to define which are the most relevant and to find a good way to track and act on these metrics.
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