Today marks the United Nations’ International Day of Happiness. It recognises happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and promotes “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples.”
Wrike’s Happiness Index, which polled 4,000 workers in the UK, US, Germany, and France, looked at the happiness of full-time employees at companies with 200 or more employees. According to the research, UK adults think ‘doing meaningful work’ is the key to office happiness, followed by ‘the ability to work remotely.’ The research also found that over half (54 percent) of UK employees have taken a pay cut to accept a job that made them happier. When asked what the most important benefit is to finding happiness at work, over a third (34 percent) said they ‘don’t care about perks.’
Other survey highlights:
- When it comes to general job happiness, 71 percent of Americans are mostly happy, compared to 70 percent of Germans, 65 percent of employees in the UK, and 54 percent of the French.
- Nearly a fifth (19 percent) of UK adults are unhappy in their job.
- Globally, more men (50 percent) than women (37 percent) have taken a pay cut to accept a job that made them happier.
- Over half (56 percent) of the happiest workforce, Americans, said their company’s mission and vision strongly resonates with them, while just over a third (36 percent) of UK respondents said the same.
- Globally, more than one-quarter (28 percent) said the most important perk, related to happiness at work, is more or unlimited paid holiday time.
Portia Hickey is a chartered business psychologist. She co-developed Thrive Matters and advises Fortune and FTSE 100 companies on how to develop employees to have a resilient, high potential mindset. She said:
“In my experience working with Fortune and FTSE 100 companies in the UK, organisations are more interested in resilience more than happiness. There’s a growing concern about the unrelenting level of pressure that employees are under (particularly those working in healthcare and professional services) as there is literally no end of work to be done.
“But this mindset feeds into the idea that stress and happiness are mutually exclusive. This isn’t necessarily the case – if you feel supported and competent, you can still feel relatively happy even if you’re stressed. So, moving the corporate mindset to focus more on happiness makes a lot of sense, as most organisations cannot reduce the amount of work that needs to be done.
“One especially striking finding from Wrike’s Happiness Index is that over half (54 percent) of UK full-time employees have taken a pay cut to accept a job that made them happier. This should serve as a wakeup call for employers – if your staff aren’t happy, they will consider going elsewhere, no matter how much you pay them.
“According to the Wrike Happiness Index, the UK workforce ranks ‘doing meaningful work’ as the most important factor that affects their happiness at work. In my experience, organisations often don’t have the language to communicate the purpose of the company, or how each role feeds into the wider business goals. If companies want their staff to be happy, they need to find the words to articulate the purpose of the company and the role that everyone plays in achieving the wider business goals.
“If you’re feeling unhappy at work, there are some things you can do in the short term that can help.
- In my experience, if people are feeling overwhelmed at work it can help to be laser focused on the most important tasks (specifically those that help you move forward towards key goals) not the most urgent tasks.
- It helps to minimise the number of things you need to do in a day, and instead, choose the things that have the most impact. This can help you feel like you’re being productive and that your work is meaningful, which generally leads to a sense of contentment. Some people follow the rule of only having five things on their task list.
- Most people have a psychological need for autonomy at work. This goes beyond knowing what you need to do (which is linked to competency). Take initiative and control of your task list wherever you can – take ownership of your responsibilities and how you do your job.
- Make sure you are doing things that you enjoy outside of work; catch up with friends, do the activities that bring you pleasure regularly – every day if you can.
“In my experience, collaboration and work management software like Wrike can really help people focus, prioritise and, therefore, be happier at work. They create a single source of truth for everyone to work from, which means that all individual tasks can be linked back to wider company objectives. And, as we know from the Happiness Index, having this context helps people feel happier in their jobs.”
Patricia DuChene is the General Manager of EMEA at Wrike, the collaborative work management tool and the company behind the research. She said:
“The International Day of Happiness gives us all a good excuse to think about our happiness, and for all managers to check in on their team’s happiness. The fact that over half of the UK is willing to take a pay cut in exchange for happiness should serve as a stark wake-up call – if your staff aren’t happy, they will go elsewhere, no matter how good their salaries are.
“The results of Wrike’s Happiness Index indicate that UK adults are mostly uninterested in the latest and greatest workplace perks. Instead, they want to feel like they’re doing meaningful work and have some flexibility over their work schedule. Both of which are areas that companies can address right away if they want to.
“So much of our life is spent at work, which makes it critical that companies create an environment where employees want to be. Technology that enables better collaboration, more efficient processes, and increased productivity is easy to deploy and makes for a happier workforce. Collaborative Work Management (CWM) platforms, like Wrike, help employees connect their tasks to company-wide objectives, giving greater meaning to their work, while simultaneously providing the tools they need to open the door to more flexible working arrangements. It’s a win-win.”
The full report is available here: https://cdn.wrike.com/ebook/2019_UK_Happiness_Index_Compensation.pdf