What makes a happy office?

20 March 2019. Features.

20 March 2019 was International Day of Happiness, a global celebration led by the United Nations which aims to inspire and mobilise people to celebrate their common humanity. 

An area of increased focus is workplace happiness. Employers have an integral role to play in ensuring their employees are feeling good - after all, a recent study from The University of Warwick has shown that a happy worker is 12% more productive than an unhappy worker.

We recently completed ‘The Happy Office Survey 2019’ which was a nationwide survey of UK workers. This survey reveals that appreciation is key to the happiness of the nation’s employees with 80% saying that feeling appreciated is important to their happiness at work – ahead of salary (58%) and feeling trusted (55%). However, the survey also reveals there is work to be done to boost workplace happiness, with less than half (45%) of employees saying they actually feel appreciated and only two-thirds (67%) saying they are happy at work.

From the findings of the research we have created the Workplace Happiness League Table, which rates the happiest (and least happy) sectors to work in. Construction and manufacturing top the league table with nearly 8 in 10 (78%) saying they are happy at work, followed by media and communications (72%), and hospitality and leisure (72%).  At the bottom of the league table is retail, with only 54% of retail workers reporting that they are happy at work, below IT and telecoms (66%) and education (67%).

Based on our expertise and findings from the survey, we have created four key initiatives for businesses to help improve happiness in the workplace.

Happy (work)space

Half of respondents (49%) claim having a great office environment is important to their happiness at work, but only a quarter (25%) say a good workplace environment is a current positive about their work.  Different office personalities will have different requirements from their working environment and employers should engage with their staff to discover what they want and need from their workplace. Small changes can make a big difference and relatively simple steps such as ensuring more natural light and using space more efficiently can really improve a working environment as well as demonstrate to employees that they are being listened to.  

Invest in tech

While having the right tools and technology to do the job properly (79%) is a leading factor in helping people feel appreciated at work, only 55% of employees state that they have this. Employers must ensure that workers’ jobs are being helped not hindered by investing in the technology that will best support employees to do their jobs.  The right technology will also enable employees to work flexibly and maximise all available office space, including quiet and communal areas.

Encourage friendships at work

More people consider ‘friendships at work’ (63%) as a current positive about their work than any other factor – ahead of flexible working (43%) and rewarding work (36%).  To build on this, employers should ensure that the workplace is actively helping to develop friendships as two-thirds of employees (67%) say communal social spaces and informal breakout areas (64%) are important in helping build friendships at work.

Boost company culture

The happiest workers are most likely to say that a good company culture is important to their happiness - 55% of construction and manufacturing workers state this vs 48% nationally – and 71% of Generation Z, the happiest age group, agree with this.  However, nationally only 22% of workers currently state that they have a good company culture, which is something businesses must look to address.  A positive company culture will mean different things to different people so employers should engage directly with their staff through a number of methods to discover what is and isn’t working and, wherever possible, introduce meaningful change. This will help create a positive and supportive office environment around the company’s greatest asset – its people.


For more information on how to boost happiness in your office, please drop us a line.

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