How To Find a Happy Workplace

By Hanne Keiling

Updated July 26, 2022 | Published September 10, 2021

Updated July 26, 2022

Published September 10, 2021

You might have heard of a recent “Great Resignation”—a phenomenon resulting from the global pandemic that, for many reasons, has caused people to leave their jobs in droves. At Indeed, we think of this moment as the “Great Realization” of millions of people who want more from their jobs, companies and work lives.

In a 2021 Workplace Happiness Study, commissioned by Indeed and conducted by Forrester Consulting, we learned that nearly 50% of people believe expectations around work happiness have increased over the last five years.¹ In this article, we share practical ways to find companies that align with your values, and therefore a company that helps you find more happiness at work.

Related: How To Use the Work Happiness Score on Indeed Company Pages

Why work happiness matters

Many of us spend one-third of our lives at work. Moreover, 92% of people report their happiness at work affects their mood at home.¹ Research also shows that people are up to 20% more productive when they feel happier.²

Leading happiness researcher Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky says, “Research has shown that happiness is a cause of success: happier people receive more positive reviews at work, are more productive and more creative, earn higher incomes and are less likely to burn out or be absent from work. Happier people are also more likely to get jobs and to keep jobs.”

Defining your values

Indeed’s work happiness study and consultation from leading happiness experts Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky and Dr. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, director of Oxford University’s Wellbeing Research Centre, have helped us identify the following key drivers of work happiness:

  • Belonging - I feel a sense of belonging in my company.

  • Energy - In most of my work tasks, I feel energized.

  • Appreciation - There are people at work who appreciate me as a person.

  • Purpose - My work has a clear sense of purpose.

  • Achievement - I am achieving most of my goals at work.

  • Compensation - I am paid fairly for my work.

  • Support - There are people at work who give me support and encouragement.

  • Learning - I often learn something at work.

  • Inclusion - My work environment feels inclusive and respectful of all people.

  • Flexibility - My work has the time and location flexibility I need.

  • Trust - I can trust people in my company.

  • Management - My manager helps me succeed.

  • Stress level - I feel stressed at work, most of the time.

  • Satisfaction - Overall, I am completely satisfied with my job.

  • Happiness - I feel happy at work most of the time.

While the above are all dimensions that drive happiness at work, some may make more of an impact on your levels of happiness at work than others. So, take some time to reflect on the dimensions you value most. You can do this by paying careful attention to the times you feel happiest in your job or times you’ve felt the happiest in previous jobs.

You might start by asking yourself questions like:

  • Are there specific activities or tasks that make me feel especially energized or make the time pass quickly?

  • Do I feel happiest during certain types of interactions with people?

  • During which kinds of meetings do I feel most engaged?

  • Which aspects of my job do I enjoy the most? Which do I least enjoy?

By answering questions like these, you might consider stack ranking the happiness dimensions to establish your must-haves in a company. For more information and exercises on defining your values, visit Defining Your Values To Find Work Happiness.

Finding the right companies

Once you’ve defined the happiness dimensions that matter to you most, you can use that information to guide your research and find companies that align with those values. Remember, no company or job is perfect, but you can establish a set of non-negotiables to use during your job search.

1. Do your research

If you’ve found a job that interests you, you can begin research on the employers posting those jobs using your values list.

Scan their website and social channels.
Start by researching their internet presence, including their website, job openings page and social media accounts, looking out for indicators that their values align with yours. Next, try and locate their vision or mission statement, a list of company values and employee benefits.

Look for mentions in the news.
Search for general news coverage and specific industry publications for recent updates about the company and its competitors. Scanning customer forums and product reviews can also help you gauge a company’s reputation.

It’s also a good idea to scan headlines for significant changes in a company’s recent past. Note any significant events, such as widespread layoffs, corporate mergers or buyouts, a new CEO, etc. Such changes can bring opportunities but could also result in low morale and a volatile work environment.

Ask your network for opinions.
Seek opinions from trusted, reliable friends and associates. After you’ve done online research, discuss what you’ve learned with your network. Ask people you know for information on their own company’s culture and if there are opportunities. If you’re a recent college graduate building your network from scratch, ask university advisors for names of alumni working at your target companies. Consider reaching out to these people for a quick coffee.

2. Read reviews

On an employer’s Indeed Company Page, there is a section for Q&A. You can see what others are saying about benefits there, along with conversations on the hiring, interview process and company culture. You can even ask a question yourself.

You’ll also find a Work Happiness Score displayed on an organization's Company Page under the ‘snapshot’ section. The Work Happiness Score is based on real employee responses about their company to the question “I feel happy at work most of the time.” This question is asked on a five-point scale (where one means strongly disagree and five means strongly agree), and the resulting scores are represented on a scale of one to 100.

Check out the company’s work happiness report to explore how they’ve ranked in each of the happiness dimensions, including both their strengths and areas of opportunity. For example, if you've identified appreciation as your top happiness driver, you should look for companies that score high in that area.

3. Ask questions during the hiring process

Throughout the hiring process, you should also have plenty of opportunities to ask the employer questions to learn more about how they prioritize each of the work happiness metrics. Before your interview, take some time to write down questions you need answers to, in order to feel confident about the job.

For example:

  • Belonging - What organizational practices do you use to ensure everyone feels included?

  • Energy - How do you allow your team to build skills that align with their career goals?

  • Appreciation - How does this company or team celebrate success?

  • Purpose - How does the team I would be working on support the company's goals?

  • Achievement - What should I hope to accomplish in my first 90 days if I am hired for this position?

  • Compensation - Can you tell me about the promotion and pay raise process?

  • Support - In what ways does this company support its employees?

  • Learning - Does the company ever sponsor the continued education of its employees?

  • Inclusion - How does the company practice inclusivity and respect in day-to-day operations?

  • Flexibility - Does the company offer flex, work-from-home or sabbatical programs?

  • Trust - Can you tell me about how the team collaborates and supports one another on projects?

  • Management - How would you describe your management style?

  • Stress level - What are the main challenges that the person in this position might face?

  • Satisfaction - How long have you worked at this position and why have you continued to work here?

Related: The Complete Guide to Researching a Company

Prioritizing work happiness at your current job

If you already have a job that you can’t or don’t plan to leave, there are also ways you can improve work happiness in your current role. Start by identifying your values as outlined above, then slowly start incorporating practices in your job that help you improve on those values.

For example:

  • Regularly ask yourself whether your company is meeting your needs. Why or why not?

  • Join or start an employee resource group that aligns with your values.

  • Create a “brag book” to detail your accomplishments at the company and use when the time comes for a promotion or performance review.

  • Work with your manager to align your tasks to your strengths by doing fewer tasks that drain your energy and more tasks that make you feel engaged.

  • Set up weekly meetings with your manager to get more support in your job and discuss ways you could improve happiness at work over time.

For more thought exercises and information on finding happiness at work, download your free Work Happiness Workbook by clicking here. You can also check out our Job Cast, Well-Being at Work: Understanding What Drives Work Happiness.

¹ Indeed Workplace Happiness Report, a commissioned study (n=4,033 US adults) conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Indeed, 2021.
² Bellet, Clement and De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel and Ward, George, Does Employee Happiness have an Impact on Productivity?, October 2019.

Work Happiness Report, 2021:
This report shares the findings of commissioned research conducted online by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Indeed, fielded in March 2021. Forrester Consulting surveyed adults ages 18+ who reported working either full-time, part-time and individuals actively searching for a new role: 4,033 US adults were surveyed.

To ensure a representative sample, quotas were set by age, education, gender, geography, and income.

The research explored a variety of topics related to happiness at work, including happiness in different aspects of respondents’ overall lives, the contribution of workplace happiness to overall happiness, the importance of different dimensions of workplace happiness, and underlying factors that respondents believe would influence the different dimensions of workplace happiness.

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