Like culture and engagement, it’s important to note that employee happiness and employee engagement are not synonymous either. Employee happiness is how your employees feel about their jobs. Employee engagement, on the other hand, is how that feeling affects their performance.
Here’s a situation where the difference matters. Consider an employee with a cush job and a high salary. He might be perfectly happy to roll in late every day, fly under the radar while doing very little work, and still collect a hefty paycheck. But by no means can we say that this employee is engaged in his role.
That being said, happiness is still important. While not all happy employees are engaged, all engaged employees are happy, and employee happiness is therefore a good barometer to judge your company’s culture.
So how are companies doing? Relatively well, it turns out. We found that the majority (62%) of employees reported being either “happy” or “very happy.”
75% of our respondents also told us they were “excited” to go into work everyday.
But that’s just part of the picture. What factors affect employee happiness?
Encourage Your Team to Take Vacation – They’ll Be Happier
For starters, we looked at how the number of vacation days that employees take
affects their happiness level.
For context, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that American workers with one year of experience average 10 days of paid vacation per year. With five years experience, that number jumps to 14 days per year, and then up to 17 after ten years of experience.
Of those who were offered 10 or fewer vacation days per year, 44% of our survey respondents reported being either unhappy at work or indifferent to their jobs. But by adding just 1-5 more vacation days, that number drops to around 30%. The takeaway – don’t be stingy with vacation days, as they appear to make a big impact on overall happiness.
Another Factor for Happiness . . . Free Snacks?
Since we’re in the snack game, we were curious – are companies that provide snacks really happier at work?
Our data suggest that they are. 42% of employees whose offices do not have free snacks reported being happy, compared to 58% of employees whose offices do receive free snacks (a 38% increase).
USA Today recently reported that snacks and happiness are linked. We also know from experience that providing nutrition can play a key role in a larger culture of engagement. Not only do healthier snacks give your team a much needed productivity boost throughout the day, they also signal that they’re cared for and appreciated.
(And let’s be real… who doesn’t love free food.)
Long Hours Doesn’t Always Mean Unhappy Campers
How many hours you work also has an impact on employee happiness. According to Gallup, fully employed American workers spend an average of 9.4 hours per day working. In our study, those who worked a standard 9 hour day were actually the least happy group.
The two happiest groups were those at the extreme ends of the spectrum. 80% of the employees who worked six hours or less per day reported being “happy” or “very happy,” while 76% of those who worked twelve hours or more per day said the same.
This finding might seem puzzling on its face, but could very well be the result of highly engaged teams. Engaged employees are both more likely to donate their discretionary time to their job and more likely to report being happy at work.
Professional Growth Can Be a Major Happiness Driver
Perhaps the strongest connection was between professional growth opportunities and employee happiness. Simply put, the more growth opportunities there are, the happier your employers will be. Employees with “a lot” of growth opportunities at their job were nearly three times more likely to report being happy at work than those at companies offering no growth opportunities.