This post describes a new report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services that was sponsored by Indeed. 

Did you know you’ll spend a third of your lifetime at work? Think of the impact: How we feel on the job clearly affects how we feel overall and, as we deal with pressures and concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing stress is paramount. Workplace stress has been linked to major business costs and loss of productivity, not to mention its negative impact on personal health and wellness. As a result, Indeed has been exploring how to bring awareness and an understanding of the importance of workplace well-being and happiness. 

It’s natural to wonder if workplace happiness isn’t just a “nice to have,” especially in today’s business climate. However, academic experts who’ve studied the topic for decades believe it’s more critical than ever. As psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky — a pioneer in happiness research and one of Indeed’s academic advisors — points out: “Happiness yields numerous rewards for the individual,” and “makes for a better, healthier, stronger society.” Not only that, but the fruits of happiness — creativity, productivity, adaptability and perseverance — are things that all companies want.

Indeed is committed to bringing awareness to workplace well-being, and our research has taken us on a significant journey of discovery and learning. Recently, we launched the Indeed Work Happiness Score. Developed with leading experts to bring new clarity to what we mean by “workplace well-being,” the Indeed Work Happiness Score has 3 million survey respondents — and counting. Why? Because developing the largest study of workplace happiness ever provides access to reliable, critical data for businesses to make successful workplace decisions and policies. 

To build on our work, Indeed is proud to sponsor a report by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services on this new research, “Cultivating Workforce Well-Being to Drive Business Value.” This report makes one thing crystal clear: Companies that prioritize workplace well-being and happiness see better business results. 

Research reveals how employers feel about workplace well-being

The Harvard Business Review Analytic Services data shows that an overwhelming majority (85%) of business leaders agree on the benefits of prioritizing workplace happiness. In fact, the majority of business leaders find that unhappiness in their workforce hurts productivity and leads to unwanted turnover. And, interestingly, most agree that employee expectations regarding workplace happiness are realistic.

A bar graph showing 96% of people believe it is easier to retain talent if you create a happier place to work than your competitors.
According to this bar graph, business leaders feel that being a happier place to work than other competitors will make it easier to retain talent (96% say yes), as well as make it easier to attract talent (94% say yes). Additionally, they believe this will give them a significant competitive advantage (87% say yes) and be better for society (85% say yes).

Meanwhile, business leaders across all industries are reporting a change in the air: 76% say employees’ expectations around workforce well-being and happiness are higher now than just five years ago. 

Yet, despite recognized business benefits and increased expectations, just 51% say their workforce is happier — and only a mere 19% of organizations actually have a workforce happiness strategy in place.

So why doesn’t every company prioritize workplace well-being?

We wonder — what’s keeping businesses from putting a workplace happiness strategy in place? Where’s the gap between knowing employee happiness matters and acting to develop it? The report provides insights such as the fact that many businesses fail to make the link between workforce well-being and profitability, and that there’s often a disconnect between what workers want and what the workplace actually offers. 

However, some forward-thinking organizations are taking significant steps. The report reveals that these “happiness leaders” have introduced an average of six initiatives over the past three years. What’s more, they’ve planned to implement more policies and procedures that promote happiness over the next 12 months. 

This group of forward-thinking companies is certainly onto something, with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services finding that companies that do prioritize workplace happiness report higher revenues and growth compared to those that don’t.

Find your company’s happy place with workplace well-being

We’ve only touched on a small sampling of the insights contained in the report, which reveals a wealth of information illustrating that every company, large and small, can benefit from prioritizing worker expectations. 

Better understanding of the factors within organizations affecting their workplace well-being fosters strategies that drive employee happiness. And, as innovative and comprehensive research and data collection — such as Indeed’s Happiness Score and this report — continue to reveal the interconnectedness of company culture, employee happiness and workforce well-being, business will bridge that gap between knowing what's important and doing something about it. 

By utilizing relevant data, we take necessary steps so that, by the end of this journey of rethinking and rebuilding, we’ll all realize a better world of work.