What Really Makes Employees Happy with their Job?

Jun 04, 2019
| The Extensis Team
What makes employees happy with their job?

Employers today are taking steps to improve employee engagement and happiness in order to combat increasing turnover rates amidst a job-seekers market.

To do so, businesses are adding modern, in-demand perks and benefits to attract the best possible talent while keeping current employees from wanting to leave.

But what perks do employees want that actually matter to them and improve their happiness?

That’s what a recent study by Wrike sought to find out. Continue on to see some of the results from their report.
 

Is Compensation What Makes Employees Happy?

The online global survey was taken by full-time workers of organizations that had more than 200 employees. It was conducted in the United States, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom with at least 1,000 respondents from each country.

First, the survey asked all respondents to rank their top factors that influence their happiness at work. Here are the top six:
 
  • Compensation
  • Flexible hours/remote work
  • Meaningful work
  • Management/leadership
  • Company culture/reputation
  • Office location

From this vantage point, it looks like compensation is the most important thing for employee happiness. But other data uncovered shows that may not be the case.

The survey then sought to see the differences in the responses given by employees who are currently happy versus those who are unhappy, and the results differed.

First, here are how unhappy employees ranked happiness factors:
 
  • Compensation
  • Flexible hours/remote work
  • Meaningful work
  • Company culture/reputation
  • Office location
  • Management/leadership

And here’s how happy employees rank these same factors:
 
  • Meaningful work
  • Flexible hours/remote work
  • Compensation
  • Management/leadership
  • Company culture/reputation
  • Office location

These results show the value that meaningful work has on keeping employees happy and preventing them from wanting to explore new job opportunities.

What’s also interesting is that flexible working arrangements are just as important to both groups, and it’s not surprising to see more employers beginning to offer flex-work opportunities in order to compete for talent.
 

Will Workers Take a Pay Cut to Start a Job that will Make Them Happier?

Often, it is expected that employees would change jobs in order to increase their pay. But would they take a pay cut if it meant being happier at work?

58% of respondents reported to have accepted lower-paying roles because they believed that the job/company would make them happier.

Additionally, those who took a pay cut to boost their happiness were "63% more likely to say they are ‘mostly’ happy or ‘elated’ with their current jobs than those who have not.”

It was also shown that the majority of those who said they were “mostly unhappy” or “miserable” say they never have taken a pay cut for a job that made them happier.

The survey also took a look at the differences between how men and women rank factors that impact happiness.

Here are the top factors and how they rank amongst men:
 
  • Management/leadership
  • Flexible hours/remote work
  • Compensation
  • Company culture/reputation & Meaningful work (tied)
  • Office location

And here’s how women rank these same factors:
 
  • Compensation
  • Meaningful work
  • Flexible hours/remote work
  • Company culture/reputation
  • Management/leadership
  • Office location

To see other areas where men and women differ, check out the full results from the Wrike survey.
 

Employee Happiness Influences Their Decision to Stay with or Leave Their Employer

Business leaders need to keep in mind just how important happiness plays into an employee’s decision to stay with their current employer or seek new opportunities.

And in some cases, just offering more money might not be enough to keep a high-performing employee from leaving.

This is why employers need to invest in things like improved benefits and perks, as well as explore ways to improve company culture in order to keep employees happy while at work!

One area of HR is becoming increasingly more difficult for small employers to properly handle — maintaining compliance with employment laws. Download our eBook, Guide to Employment Law: Topics Employers Must Know to Stay Compliant, to learn more about some of the biggest trends and topics in employment law.

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