The Importance of Happiness Analytics

At one point or another in your career you’re going to ask yourself, “Am I happy?” I think about this question a lot – perhaps it’s because I’m part of the Millennial generation, or perhaps it’s because I strive to live the best life I can and happiness is a non-negotiable part of that equation. But, I’m not just asking myself if I’m happy, I’m thinking about the happiness of my team – are they fulfilled with their job? Is there anything I can do to be a better mentor? Are they happy? How can I make them happier?

While at HR Tech this week, I had the opportunity to sit in on a session called: “Happiness Analytics at Pandora,” hosted by Jeremy Welland (Ph.D.), the Head of People Analytics at Pandora. A lot of his research focuses around similar questions I often think about – can happiness predict attrition? What influences happiness? What can businesses do to increase happiness?

He started with a simple definition of happiness within the context of the workplace, which has three parts:

  1. Pleasure – A feeling more positive than negative emotions
  2. Engagement – You’re fully subscribed to what you’re doing and invested in the activities pushing the business forward
  3. Meaning – Can you connect what you do to the vision of the company?

At this point, you might be asking yourself why this matters. Sure, we all like to be happy, but what is the true value of happiness? As it turns out…it’s a lot. His research found that happy employees are about 5x more likely to stay with the organization than unhappy employees and that engaged employees (e.g. believe in their work, not regularly looking for other jobs, proud of what they do) are about 4x more likely to stay as compared to disengaged employees.

While there are many happiness drivers, his research has identified the top-ten traits (at least at Pandora) when it comes to creating a happy employee, which include:

  1. Purpose – The work that I do at my company is meaningful to me.
  2. Career – I believe there are good career opportunities for me at my company.
  3. Growth – I have good opportunities to learn and grow at my company.
  4. Contribution – I know how my work contributes to the company’s success.
  5. People Importance – The senior leaders in my organization demonstrate that people are important to the success of my company.
  6. Development – The conversations I have with my manager about my development are valuable.
  7. Recognition – I am satisfied with the recognition I receive for doing a good job.
  8. Empowerment – I feel empowered to make decisions regarding my work.
  9. Strengths – I have the chance to use my strengths every day.
  10. Vision – The senior leaders in my organization have communicated a vision that motivates me.

Before even revealing the final list, I knew that purpose would come in at number one. Our jobs are such a large part of our lives that it doesn’t surprise me that we want them to have meaning for us. At the end of the day, I want to go home and feel like I’ve accomplished something that not only serves my company, but also society. And I want my team members to leave happy, knowing that what makes them happy might very well differ from my sources of happiness.

Research has shown that 50% of our happiness is determined by our genetics and 10% is based on our life circumstances (such as our wealth, health and marriage), leaving the capacity for happiness change at 40%. Knowing that we all want a happy workplace (and that we have 40% to work with), the question is simple – how do we create happiness?

Here are five simple tips, according to our presenter, on how to create happiness:

  1. Be grateful (and recall and discuss these moments often)
  2. Engage in positive thinking about oneself (e.g. reflect on happy life and events and accomplishments)
  3. Be kind (e.g. be altruistic, make others happy, help people at work)
  4. Pursue significant intrinsic life goals (e.g. list and take action on steps towards goals)
  5. Affirm important values and savor positive experiences

All too often we can find ourselves caught up in the negativity when there is so much around us to be grateful for every day. The act of starting a new job, for example, is such a powerful moment in one’s life – taking the initiative to move forward in your career and aligning your strengths with the vision of a new organization should be celebrated.

When my newest team member started I greeted her with the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, a gift card to Starbucks and a poster related to her hometown – each gift a symbolic gesture letting her know I care about her growth, what she has to say and her caffeine levels (because we all need that morning boost from time to time). Quite simply – I wanted her to feel welcomed, part of the team and happy. And from our research, I knew how she was onboarded plays a large role in her happiness at our company.

While happiness comes in many forms based on various circumstances, I invite you to check out our whitepaper here to learn how you can onboard with ease, subsequently improving the happiness of new hires (and making your workload easier too)!

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