September 22

In Search of Happy and Engaged Workers


Are you happy at work? Everyone wants to know your answer, especially your employers who are spending a collective $720 million annually to boost workplace engagement and satisfaction levels, according to a 2012 study conducted by Deloitte. Happy employees are good for business: more productive, produce better results, and are likely to stay longer. Likewise, life at home is more likely to thrive when family members are happy at work. Despite the ongoing investment, American workers aren’t happy or engaged at work. In a comprehensive report by Gallop Poll, workers answered No to the question about engagement, meaning “involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace.”

Happy employees are engaged employees

Here’s a look at the ways companies are updating their strategy to keep employees like you happy and engaged.


Salary tops the list for how employees measure their job satisfaction and employers are responding. Data from The Department of Labor shows that American employees have seen their wages grow 2-3% on an annual basis. That number could be higher for tech workers. In a survey conducted by Modis International, one-third of tech employers would offer a 10-15% salary increase to lure in-demand IT professionals from their current companies. You can expect the war on talent to be conducted, in part, with cold, hard cash, and, in part, with technology.


In the race to innovate human resources, companies are moving away from the employee engagement surveys and choosing to go the way of gamification and big data. Fast Company reported on the advent of  “mood ring” apps that gather emotional intel. Employees download apps, like ClutureAmp or Niko Niko, which enable team members to report on their mood by using a touch and drag happiness meter.

niko niko app

“Based on the agile software development methodology of the same name, Niko Niko is an app that enables teams of people to track mood or sentiment in reaction to activities and objectives,” according to the app maker’s company page. Niko Niko is careful to distinguish feelings from mood, defining mood as, generally, lasting longer. If managers have access to an engagement analytics dashboard, they can address issues and bottlenecks as they occur in real-time. With work culture divided among remote teams, companies look to human resources startups to provide big data that drive “good vibes” and keep departments connected. Get ready to swipe your smartphone for everything HR: from clocking in, to onboarding to the exit interview.


Companies are changing the standard 9-5, Monday-Friday work week in favor of a flexible schedule that accommodates their changing workforce–including Millennials. Nearing 75.4 million as of 2016 (Pew Research), Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce. They value paid parental leave, on-site or subsidized child care and be able to telecommute 1-2 days a week. There’s much work to be done in the U.S. around work/life balance: it’s moving at a snail’s pace compared to other first world countries. Millennials, globally, are more likely than other generations to say flexibility (and meaningful mission) matter in which company they choose. Meanwhile, some companies are leading the way.

Notable Examples

  • Project management software provider Basecamp gives employees who have been at the company for at least a year the option to work a four-day workweek from May through October.
  • Freelance site Upwork has Work Online Wednesdays where everyone works from the location of their choice, as long as there’s Wi-Fi.
  • In Sweden, some companies (including Toyota’s regional office) have adopted a 6-hour work day. The result? Boosted productivity, happier employees and global envy.


Ironically, perks like working remotely diminish the opportunity to bond with managers and colleagues. When Gallup released their ‘great workgroups’ report placing an important on workplace friendship–even going so far as subscribing bonding as a best practice–it initially drew ire. But Gallup, along with studies from institutions like the University of Michigan, backed up their findings. Friends at work relieve stress, motivates workers and builds loyalty to the company.

The Office Meme

In Adam Grant’s New York Times column, he writes

Once, work was a major source of friendships. We took our families to company picnics and invited our colleagues over for dinner. Now, work is a more transactional place. We go to the office to be efficient, not to form bonds. We have plenty of productive conversations but fewer meaningful relationships.

In this instance, companies can create the opportunities but it’s up to the individuals to take part.


Read our post on Why Flex Schedules Rock. 

“Friends At Work? Not So Much.” by Adam Grant, New York Times

“I Have A Best Friend At Work” – The twelve key dimensions that describe great workgroups (part 11) – The Gallup Organization


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