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How and Why to Measure Employee Engagement & Happiness

Elle Whitehead | 18th August 2021

The pandemic has changed the world of work forever. We’re seeing a lot of stress on people’s mental and physical health, and organisations rethinking how, when and where their people work. This poses particular challenges for People and HR teams. If you’re looking to get an accurate assessment of your culture, and how your people think, feel and behave, we recommend measuring both employee engagement and happiness. 

Why measure employee engagement and happiness?

There are many reasons as to why we believe organisations should care about their employee engagement and happiness. They range from the fact it’s the right thing to do to make sure your people are happy (what kind of leader doesn’t want people to be happy) to the fact that it makes good business sense. 

There’s oodles of science backing up the fact that organisations with happier more engaged employees perform better:

Happy employees are 13% more productive. (Oxford University)
Creating a thriving culture can increase revenue by 400%. (Forbes)
Happy companies performed better on the stock market by 2.3-3.8%. (Grow the Pie)

Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%. (Gallop)

We could write a whole book about why it makes sense to care about these things. In fact we have. Check out Matt’s book Freedom to be Human: The Business Case for Happiness

Before you can start to make an impact on employee engagement and employee happiness, you need to first measure and understand where your organisation is at the moment. 

The benefit is that you will be able to put your people in the centre of your people strategy. Active listening and measurement allows you to ensure that the changes you make to your culture are meaningful because they’re the ones that your people need and want. 

How to measure employee engagement and happiness

‘How do I measure employee engagement’ is a question asked by many HR professionals. And although it has long been thought that engagement is hard to measure, this simply is no longer the case. Technology has stepped into the breach when it comes to giving qualitative backing to both organisational culture and the ROI of investment in your people. 

There are inexpensive tools which can be used when measuring employee engagement. Survey Monkey and Google Forms are popular choices. However, using a third party tool like The Happiness Index brings greater accuracy and speeds up the process. This is because using a third party allows you to bring experts onboard to ensure you get the data you need as well as data processing, meaning you can use your data more easily. 

Another area where we excel is in collecting truly anonymous data. When contributors believe their feedback cannot be attributed back to them, you are more likely to get candid feedback which accurately reflects your people’s happiness and engagement. This will allow you to highlight your strengths and build on any weaknesses. 

Lastly, our platform uses advanced AI and machine learning to process comments and track common themes. This will save you from manually processing them, and will instead free you up to really understand how your people think and feel, to create targeted action plans. 

A word of warning

The second you bring numbers to the party people start to think of targets. We really don’t think happiness should be thought of as a target, and you should avoid “toxic positivity” which rejects difficult emotions. 

Happiness and engagement are bound to ebb and flow, particularly in uncertain times. 

The same Oxford study which found that happy workers were 13% more productive, also found that a major influencing factor was good weather. 

This is not something you can control.

Similarly, the stresses and strains of the global pandemic will also have had impacts on happiness and culture which are outside of your control. For this reason, rather than having targets when it comes to the happiness and engagement of your team, you should simply try to measure and understand it. 

Once you have significant quantitative data, you can then use this like a weather report. Giving you ideas of trends, and areas for improvement. This will allow you to ensure that any changes that you make to your people strategy are informed by the data you gather. Not only this, but you will also be able to ensure that the changes you are making are helping you to achieve your goals. 

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