15 drivers that influence employee happiness: the Employee Happiness Model
By Kirsten van Enk | 16/01/2023
For a very long time, work has revolved around one thing: making money. As long as you could pay the mortgage and put food on the table at the end of the month, people were soon satisfied with their jobs. Many employees stayed with an organization for a long time and were loyal to their boss. But today that picture has changed: the job market is tight, there are staff shortages everywhere, and employees quickly leave if they don’t like their jobs. How can you ensure staff retention in these times? If you secure these fifteen drivers in your organization, you will see that this will result in more employee happiness and employees will stay!
The Employee Happiness Model
To define the drivers of employee happiness and engagement, 2DAYSMOOD conducted research together with Utrecht University. For a long time, employee happiness was an immeasurable, abstract part of HR policy. But these drives help you as an HR manager or team leader make concrete and targeted improvements to retain your employees and demonstrate good employment practices. The 15 drivers are divided into four overarching themes: organization, people, work and wellbeing. Together this forms the Employee Happiness Model.
The drivers in the Organization theme
1. Internal communication
Clear internal communication facilitates knowledge sharing, creates shared values and gives meaning to work. If your internal communication is sound, it also creates positive relationships at work.
2. Vision and values
Are your organization’s vision and core values clear and well defined? Can employees identify with them? Then they are more likely to be happy at work. They want to know how the organization sees itself in the future and be able to identify with it.
3. Strategy and goal alignment
It is important that the organization’s strategy and goals are known among employees. This is because then they know what they are collectively working toward and how their work contributes to achieving those goals. That gives the work meaning.
4. Reputation and brand
How does the outside world see your organization? Your organization’s reputation and brand determine employee engagement and happiness. This is about the impression internal and external stakeholders have of the organization. Through the brand, the organization can portray a positive image, which conveys trust and quality.
The drivers in the People theme
Leadership within an organization is very important to employees. Leaders are supposed to be inspiring and motivating. They help employees develop and flourish and are the foundation of the work culture. In addition, their job is to translate the company vision and strategy into projects and tasks.
6. Relationship with colleagues
Relationships with colleagues are very important for employee happiness. Can employees work well together and achieve common goals? Is there pleasant communication, trust, mutual respect and shared responsibility? Then employees can depend on each other and there will be a good relationship.
7. Relationship with manager
Employees also have a lot of contact with the manager. Therefore, the relationship with the immediate manager plays a big role in job satisfaction. The manager should not only be a role model, but should have personal interest and trust in employees.
8. Diversity and inclusion
Diversity and inclusion have to do with safety in the organization. If employees feel completely safe to be and express themselves, they will be happier in their jobs. If they can show this, they will be more engaged and loyal to the organization.
The drivers in the Work theme
9. Salary and benefits
For employees, salary and benefits play a big role in their job satisfaction. They expect to be able to cover their expenses and have room to do fun things. Secundary benefits should also be good so that, for example, there is room to take development courses, get travel reimbursement or get time off on important days.
Appreciation can be expressed in a variety of ways. Some of this has to do with the rewards employees receive, but it also involves verbal expressions from colleagues or managers. Did an employee work hard to meet a project deadline? Is a customer satisfied with the contact? Then it’s good to actually express this: appreciation does wonders for the emotional connection employees have with their jobs.
11. Learning and development
In order to retain employees in your organization, good learning and development opportunities are essential. Not only does this contribute to a sense of purpose, it also ensures that employees can grow within your organization and that talent is created.
12. Intrinsic motivation
Does the employee consider his work to be valuable? If so, there is intrinsic motivation. This helps create employee happiness because the employee is doing work that contributes to a greater purpose, and is not just doing the work to get paid.
The drivers in the Wellbeing theme
13. Workplace conditions
The physical elements and the environment in which the employee works determine workplace conditions. Do you have an uninspiring, boring office with no decorations or plants? Then that will not be positive for the mood of your employees. Do they work in an environment where they enjoy coming to every day, find connection and feel comfortable? Then they will be happier at work.
Are your employees vital enough? Vitality is about the state in which employees are willing to work under high work pressure and in stressful situations. This can be positively influenced by a healthy lifestyle and support from (private) relationships.
15. Work-life balance
Are employees able to determine their own work-life balance? If so, this provides a sense of freedom and autonomy. This looks different for every employee: some prefer to work at the times when they are most productive, such as in the evening, and thus schedule their work themselves. Other employees prefer to turn off their laptops at five o’clock and thus guard their work-life balance.
Measuring and improving the fifteen drivers of employee happiness
Now that you know what the drivers of employee happiness are, the next step is to start doing something with them. But how can you make these drives measurable? The 2DAYSMOOD tool offers you a smart online solution, with which you determine the current state of affairs with a baseline measurement. Using scientifically validated questions, we map out how satisfied employees are with the various drives and how important this drive is for their job satisfaction.
In a handy online dashboard you can see where your focus is: for example, is the appreciation very important for happiness at work, but are employees not satisfied with it? Then this is where you can make the most impact. This way, you do not waste time on actions that do not yield enough results and you can quickly apply improvements. After a few months you do the measurement again and see where your actions have improved the employee experience!