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How to Find Your Happy Employees (+ Benefits of High Satisfaction Rates)

Every company wants to build a positive workplace culture. The impact of your culture extends beyond simply having a fun, positive environment. Achieving high levels of employee satisfaction has a direct impact on revenue and profit margins. This is why employers in all industries are focusing on fostering a culture of happy employees.

4 Benefits of Happy Employees

The simple truth is that prioritizing employee happiness is an effective business strategy. It’s no secret that when your employees are treated well and feel valued, they are better at handling their responsibilities and completing their tasks. 

Here are four benefits of improving employee happiness in the workplace:

Happy Employees Are Better Decision Makers

It’s hard to overstate the impact mood has on human beings. When people feel cheerful in their day, they are well equipped to face obstacles and rise to challenges. 

So when your staff faces major shifts in strategy or need to adjust to new priorities quickly, they’re less fearful of failure. Since they feel valued and passionate about their responsibilities, they take full ownership of their work. 

Happy Employees Are More Productive

By fostering a positive culture and focusing on keeping your employee satisfaction levels high, you can keep your teams firing on all cylinders. In fact, a 2019 study by the University of Oxford found that people are 13% more productive when they feel happy. 

The study was conducted over six months by conducting surveys of employees at a telecom firm. The participants would receive a short email asking them to rate their mood each week. Additionally, researchers assessed data on conversion rates, customer satisfaction, attendance, and more. In short, happier employees were more productive than those who were unhappy within the same amount of time at work. 

Happy Employees Improve the Customer Experience

Too many leaders focus solely on the customer experience. While it is important to the success of any organization, it’s equally important to also look at the employee experience. Tracy Maylett, the CEO of DecisionWise, introduced the concept of the law of congruent experience. This states that: “Employees will deliver a customer experience that matches their own experience in the organization.”

In other words, if your employees are dismissive, they will create dismissive customers. If your staff feels ignored and acts frustrated with their team, that frustration will eventually impact the customer experience. So when you look at creating a positive employee experience, you’re delivering a positive customer experience as well. 

Happy Employees Stay Longer

Losing team members is never easy. This is especially true for small businesses with limited staff. Unfortunately, there are plenty of aspects that push people to throw in the towel. Some of the most common reasons employees quit include:

  • Their relationship with their coworkers
  • A lack of recognition from management
  • Feeling unchallenged and disengaged from their work
  • Lacking a sense of contribution

The cost of employee turnover is staggering. On average, employers spend six to nine months of an employee’s salary to replace them. So, keeping employees happy and engaged in their role can save your company money and resources. When your team is happy to come to work, they’re not looking for an exit to greener pastures. 

6 Signs Your Employees Are Happy

It’s not always easy to perceive how your employees feel about their position and overall experience. Obviously, you’re not a mind reader! However, you can pay attention to how they behave and act. Here are some common habits of happy employees that you should look out for:

  • Employees express enthusiasm and contentment through body language, like in the way they smile. 
  • They show up early, demonstrating a clear interest in being on time and tackling their responsibilities.
  • Their desks and offices are organized and kept clean, showing a sense of pride in their appearance in the workplace. 
  • They’re actively engaged in decision making and offer creative solutions. 
  • They form meaningful friendships with their coworkers and showcase a positive, friendly demeanor. 
  •  Employees take charge in evolving their role, taking on new responsibilities in a proactive way. 

As you can imagine, you can also determine levels of dissatisfaction by monitoring habits. 

6 Signals Your Employees Are Unhappy

It might not be obvious that certain team members are planning for an exit. Here are six habits to look for. 

  • Your employee productivity rates are decreasing significantly.
  • They’re not engaging in company events and isolating themselves. 
  • They exhibit a bad attitude with sure-fire gestures, like rolling their eyes or showing clear defiance. 
  • Conflict with certain coworkers become more common. 
  • They start asking for raises that don’t align with their scheduled compensation schedule, suggesting they feel undervalued. 
  • They voice their concerns frequently and stay vocal with others outside of leadership. 

The good news is that you don’t need to be a mind reader to understand the level of happiness and employee engagement in your company. 

Methods to Determine Employee Satisfaction

There are a couple of different approaches you can use to measure and monitor levels of satisfaction. 

Host One-on-One Conversations

This is as obvious as it sounds. Instead of wondering what each employee is thinking, simply reach out and ask them. But remember, getting enough time to meet with each person on your team doesn’t just happen on its own. 

You need to schedule time and plan for these one-on-ones. Set expectations with each employee and provide them with clear goals for your conversation, which is essentially you wanting to gauge their level of satisfaction in their role and the company as a whole. Bring a list of questions related to their experience, like what they would want to change, where they see themselves, and aspects that they like. 

Conduct Employee Satisfaction Surveys

The best method for soliciting feedback is to conduct surveys with your teams. This gives them a chance to express themselves clearly and anonymously, so it makes them more comfortable to give their honest opinion. 

Plus, surveys take less time and resources than hosting one-on-one meetings, and they can be conducted on a regular basis with simple automation when you use survey software. However, in order to actually improve employee happiness, you need to gather accurate data. And in the context of employee satisfaction surveys, accuracy rests on their honesty. 

How to Get Candid Feedback from Employees

To encourage your employees to be honest in their surveys and to make them feel comfortable with providing constructive feedback, you need to be clear with them about why you’re conducting surveys and how leadership is using their input. 

Follow these simple steps to encourage them to be honest and candid:

  1. Be transparent about why the leadership team is measuring levels of satisfaction by sharing your goals of the survey, which may be to identify retention strategies or improve your employee net promoter score
  2. Emphasize the importance of honesty and how that can directly affect positive change in the workplace. 
  3. Demonstrate your entire leadership team’s buy-in by having each leader speak about why they want to improve the culture and make employees feel happier. 
  4. Share real examples of how your leadership team used employee feedback to change an aspect of your culture or daily operations (e.g., changes in processes or the adoption of a new employee benefit).

Once you get full buy-in from your employees, you’re ready to create and deliver your employee satisfaction survey. But your survey is only as effective as the questions you ask. 

The Best Questions to Ask in an Employee Satisfaction Survey

There are plenty of questions to include in your survey. Depending on how you conduct them (e.g., long-form annual surveys, short-form frequent surveys), your questions should touch on all aspects of the employee experience, including culture, management, their individual jobs, and more. 

Here is the ultimate list of questions to include, broken down into different categories. 

General Engagement and Satisfaction Questions

These questions focus on engagement and satisfaction. 

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you with work?
  • Generally speaking, are you satisfied with the current benefits you receive?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rate your work-life balance?
  • How likely are you to refer someone to work here?

Workplace Culture Questions

This list of questions addresses how employees feel about the culture of your organization. 

  • Would you consider the leadership team to be transparent?
  • List three words describing our company culture.
  • Do you feel like you have fun while working?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how comfortable are you providing feedback to your immediate manager?
  • Do you think our company lives by the core values we have?
  • Does it feel like your coworkers respect each other?
  • Do you feel connected to your coworkers?
  • Does your team value your feedback?

Management Questions

With this set of questions, you can dive deeper into how employees perceive your management team. 

  • Do your managers make you feel valued at work?
  • Did you receive accolades from your managers after you completed a recent project?
  • Do you think leadership takes your feedback into consideration?
  • How frequently do you receive recognition from your direct manager?

Growth Questions

These questions inquire about how employees want to grow. 

  • What new skills are you looking forward to developing?
  • Do you receive the proper training and learning opportunities in your current position?
  • List new responsibilities you want to take on. 
  • Does your work feel meaningful to you?
  • In your current role, do you utilize your skills and abilities as much as you could?

When you know how to monitor and manage the employee experience at your organization, you’re able to develop a positive culture that makes your staff feel valued and supported. In turn, you have happy employees who are ready to support your growth goals.

Conclusion

Having happy employees can make all the difference in a work environment. It’s important that you periodically check in with your team members to gauge their employment satisfaction. 

One of the best ways to do that is with an employee satisfaction survey. SurveyLegend’s powerful tool allows you to connect with your employees in a way that will allow them to be honest and provide feedback on how they’re feeling about working at your company. Want to make sure you get full participation from your employees? Check out our blog on incentive ideas!

Do you use employee satisfaction surveys? What are some of your favorite questions to ask? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you tell if employees are happy?

Your employee is probably happy if they show genuine enthusiasm, a clear interest in the workplace, engage in conversations with coworkers, and form meaningful relationships with fellow employees.

How do you tell if employees are unhappy?

Your employee is probably unhappy if they show a decrease in productivity, exhibit a bad attitude, and are talking negatively about coworkers or leadership.

Why is it beneficial to have happy employees?

Happier employees benefit the workplace because they are better decision makers and are more productive, and they work toward improving the customer experience. Happy employees stay at companies longer which can reduce employee turnover.

What are the best questions to ask employees to gauge their satisfaction?

It’s important to provide a mix of questions when asking employees about their job happiness. You’ll want to include growth questions, management questions, workplace culture questions and engagement/satisfaction questions. 

About the Author

Jasko Mahmutovic

Born entrepreneur, passionate leader, motivator, great love for UI & UX design, strong believer in "less is more”. Big advocate of bootstrapping. BS in Logistics Service Management. I don't create company environments, I create family and team environments.