Issue 36

A smile won’t bring the spring - the science of organizational happiness

Szilárd Kacsó
CEO & Trainer @ Azimut Happy Employees @ updateED


We are more and more preoccupied with happiness. And from an organizational point of view, we have become more aware of the importance of having happy employees: these are more productive, more satisfied, and more attached to the organization. Along these lines, we are also seeing an increased effort to satisfy our employees. But how can we make the big leap from a smile to all out organizational happiness?

Even if we have become more and more aware about the importance of having happy employees, we are still somewhat reluctant when it comes to evaluating the potential impact of an abstract concept such as happiness. There is however some good news: there are a multitude of studies, instruments, and scales which have been validated and which can help quantify our progress towards organizational happiness.

From smile to happiness

Happiness in the workspace is more than just giggle and fun. We need to evaluate employee happiness as a meter made up of three components:

Because we were mentioning the importance of quantifying the level of happiness in organizations, we are going to present several scientific tools which we can use to help evaluate the degree of happiness. We also have the ability to use specific tools in order to determine each of the three components mentioned above: Utrecht Work Engagement Scale, Job Satisfaction Survey, Organizational Commitment Questionnaire, The Work and Meaning Inventory Scale etc.

Smiling does not really help. But happy employees do

A happy employee is not defined by the amount of smiling he or she does, but by the optimum levels of involvement, commitment and satisfaction. Why do we need happy employees in our organizations? Perhaps the most relevant answer can be provided by the Return of Investment that an employee happiness development program offers. First and foremost, this is felt at the level of costs involving the hiring and training of a new employee. That is why it is preferable to invest in the retention and commitment of employees.

Furthermore, research has indicated the presence of a link between employee happiness, productivity and commitment, and, eventually, the degree of satisfaction and loyalty of a company's clients. This, in addition to the fact that employees have proven to be 10-12% more productive than those with a lesser level of happiness in their workplace. As such, the direct benefits received by the company are a higher retention rate and a better profit margin.

From happiness to organizational happiness

More and more effort goes into increasing employee satisfaction by using various means: theme parties, team activities, trainings, office benefits, etc. However, these do not suffice. They can bring a smile at most...

On the other hand, a strategy and a complex program are needed in order to make a real difference. We recommend the following three step program which focuses on long term impact:

In conclusion, happiness must not be treated superficially (as a simple smile), or seen as an abstract and useless concept. Quite the opposite. It is a science, which, with the help of the right instruments and scales, can be measured. A few activities meant to amuse/ involve temporarily an employee will not grant organizational happiness. The right scientific instruments, along with the implementation of a complex program can bring immense benefits both in quantity and in quality to a company and its employees. Do not forget: Just a smile won't fix everything!




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