An easy way to measure employee happiness

Weekly ‘happiness measurements’ are actually quite easy to run, easy to manage and the reporting takes very little of both you and your employees time. But why do it?
First of all to ensure that the team discusses how people in the team are doing. It may sounds a bit redundant if you also have 1:1s, and feel you have a good relation to the team members, but this creates the ‘room’ for the team to get to know more about each other: Everybody in the team gets an idea on how things are going. Everybody get to say how they are doing, and everybody is heard. It strengthens the relations, and ensures that each individual is acknowledged for their input.
It basically builds common understanding, strengthens team empathy, how the team work together, and in the end adds to building a strong team that cares about each other and their joint deliverables; resulting in better value for the customer.

What is then the actual output of a happiness measurement?

The way we do it, we get two things:

  1. An instant measure of the temperature in our unit. A here and now: how are people doing? How did that steering committee meeting affect how the project manager liked going to work last week? Are anybody about to drown in work, or bored with their current assignments?
  2. A trend curve, like the one below. It give you an option to follow employee ‘happiness’ over time. It should be interpreted with caution, but can be used to discuss and highlight what is going on in the unit during a timespan; i.e. how the team or the entire unit is affected (if at all) by the shift in management, by changing the workplace design or by a change in strategy.

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How do you perform the measurement?

It is this easy:

  1. Send out a weekly questionnaire. We use a very simple SurveyMonkey-setup, with a 1-5 scale, and on a weekly basis we send out a mail with a link to everybody. Usually it takes 2-3 minutes to reply and submit.artikle2
  2. Encourage everybody to fill out the text field as well. It does not have to be a 100 word-essay, but just a few keywords to give an idea on what is on their mind, and what made the week fantastic – or crappy. This also helps to facilitate both the team discussion and the 1:1s.
  3. Export the responses to Excel and do a simple pivot exercise on them. Publish the stats and the text input where you know people see it – Yammer, Slack or a shared OneNote if that’s what you use (and be sure to let people know that also the comments are non-anonymous and shared in public).
  4. Discuss the trend with the team at the weekly status meeting. Discuss what should be done about it – if anything. Discuss if you need a specific target. Do you aim for being above 3.5? Above 4?

In the example above, relevant questions could be: did something happen in week 41-44 that drained the employees? How did we change the decreasing slope – what changed? Do we need to act differently? Did we? Do we need to change what tasks goes to whom? Or was this just an insignificant blip in data?

Discuss perhaps also the written input – perhaps the numbers are not as important as this. What makes employee x, y and z thrive? What does not?

You may now think, that you already do have these discussions, and do get this input without the trouble of doing data collection and crunching numbers, and you might very well be right – but if you are just a little bit in doubt if you always get the input from everybody (and also from those who seems content, but rarely speaks up unless things are really, really bad), or if the relations in the team could need a helping hand, then starting up a ‘happiness measurement’ in 2016 may be the thing to do.

 

 

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About the author: Line Bloch

Line has more than 17 years of real-life experience as department manager, project manager, senior specialist and programme manager at Novo Nordisk A/S. Master of Science. Practitioner in ITIL, Service Management.

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