Jonny Gifford: Measuring the happiness of the workforce

Jonny Gifford

The key to effectively measure happiness at work is to consider a wide range of contributing factors. The UK working lives survey, published by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) on 24 April 2018, explores the components that lead to a positive or negative working life.

For example, we asked whether individuals feel enthusiastic about their job. This is important, because it gives a sense of how they feel about coming in to work on a day-to-day basis. By asking if an employee feels miserable, we can also find out how many are at the polar opposite of happiness, and by asking whether they feel full of energy, exhausted or under pressure at work, we can gauge the risk of burnout.

In general, the research found that UK employees see work as more positive than negative for their mental health. However, there are a substantial number for whom work is a grind.

More than one in five employees always or often feel exhausted (22%) or under excessive pressure (22%) and approximately one in 10 (11%) report regularly feeling miserable at work. While this is a minority, it represents a huge number of people nationally, and indicates a serious health risk.

By taking into account the wide range of causes and looking at the factors behind wellbeing, stress and burnout, it is possible to come to conclusions about the happiness of a workforce and begin to address potential issues.

The quality of the work people undertake is a major factor in helping them remain healthy and content. Extensive training and development must also be part of the solution, so employees can feel fulfilled in their work. Employers should also consider flexible working, fostering better workplace relationships and giving employees a voice and choice on aspects of their working lives.

Jonny Gifford is senior adviser on organisational behaviour at the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD)