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Making Employees Happy: Quantifying Happiness

In earlier blogs, we looked at how to make employees happy: the importance, and limitations, of money in making people happy, and supporting employees in their larger quest for meaning and balance in life. Now perhaps it is time to circle back and ask, what is happiness, anyway? Can it be quantified? Can you measure it in your employees?

Happy is good

Presumably, it is good to have happy employees. If you have ever encountered an unhappy employee working for an organization—at the supermarket, the post office, the DMV, or in a company’s accounts payable department, customer support, or reception desk—you know how damaging their negative energy can be for the customer experience and co-worker morale. Not to mention that unhappy employees are surely less productive and less loyal. If you need proof, research by the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School found that workers are 13% more productive when happy.

beqom’s tagline, “To make your employees happy,” is based on the well-established notion that happy employees drive a successful business. It’s a sensible goal to want your employees to be happy. So, are they? How do you know? And if you take steps to make them happier, how do you know if you have succeeded or failed?

Measuring happiness

Since happiness is subjective, most measures of employee happiness come from asking employees questions presumed to be indicators of happiness. Tests like the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire where you rate your agreement with a series of statements (“I feel that life is very rewarding,” “I always have a cheerful effect on others,” “I don’t have a particular sense of meaning and purpose in my life,”) and then tabulate a happiness score, which can range from “Not Happy” through “Moderately Happy” to (believe it or not) “Too Happy”. 

These days, more technological approaches are being tried as well, such as a chatbot developed by an Indian analytics company which uses an AI-driven sentiment analytics engine to analyze an employee’s expressions and tone to determine their emotional state, but that may raise some troublesome privacy issues.

How can you be the happiest company?

A simpler approach is noted in an article in Forbes a few years back by David Tomas, Cofounder and CEO of Cyberclick, and author of The Happiest Company in the World, who described a simple one-minute traffic light survey his company uses daily, collected via a Google form. The answers are simply traffic light colors: green, yellow, red. It asks employees:

  1. What mood did you arrive in today?
  2. What mood are you leaving in today?
  3. On a scale of one to four, how much did you like the tasks you did today?

Yes, it has a comments section. They also do a more detailed monthly survey, and discuss the results each month. Cyberclick has a core value of “always find a better way.” As in, “If what someone is doing causes them stress or unhappiness, we must find a better way.” The results of focusing on employee happiness for Cyberclick? High employee retention, more than doubling EBITDA within two years, and being named one of the best workplaces in Spain. The drawback? That approach might be more challenging when trying to scale it to a large enterprise.

Criteria for happy employees collects annual employee sentiment ratings for both large and small/mid-sized companies, compiling ratings from 10 million employees across 60,000 U.S. companies in 2020. The company they determined to have the happiest employees in 2020 was Zoom. (beqom was named by Comparably as one of Nine New York-area Companies That Offer Employees Great Workplace Environments in 2019.)

Comparably asks questions like: 

  • Is your work environment positive or negative?
  • Do you believe you’re paid fairly?
  • Are you satisfied with your benefits?
  • Are your company’s goals clear, and are you invested in them?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend your company to a friend?

These criteria for happiness square well with beqom’s belief that employee happiness comes not from simply having more money, but from making sure they understand:

  • The company direction
  • The link between their individual goals and the overall company strategy
  • How they are rewarded and recognized for achieving these goals and if it is fair

A system to support happiness

For these reasons, beqom provides a total compensation platform that ensures employees have full transparency into their goals, their performance results, their rewards, and how those rewards were determined. In addition, beqom gives companies the ability to use machine learning and advanced analytics to uncover and remedy pay equity issues, and ensure fair and competitive compensation for all employees.

Does your current rewards system have what it takes to motivate and inspire employees? To make them happy? Use our free and quick online Rewards Maturity Assessment tool to evaluate key elements of your rewards strategy.

Rewards Maturity Assessment


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