A survey of 1024 UK employees has revealed that those who work in micro businesses tend to be the happiest employees.

A perfect 10Smaller Businesses Make Happier Workplaces

The 2018 Workplace Happiness Report by incentive specialists One4all reveals that while the average happiness score of UK employees is 6.81 out of 10.

Those who work in micro businesses with 1-4 employees score an average of 7.41 out of 10 – with nearly a third scoring a perfect 10!

This suggests that closer relationships with bosses and more impact and influence on the company they work for are significant factors in employee happiness.

Other high scoring groups were those over 55 (6.91), and employees in the North East and Scotland, with both regions scoring over 7.

How does happiness affect productivity?

When asked about how their happiness affected their work, 39% of respondents said they work harder if they’re happy with their role or workplace and 38% said their happiness at work impacts their performance. 30% said they’re willing to put in longer hours when they’re happy at work.

However, 30% said they would consider leaving a job if they weren’t happy and 21% of respondents didn’t feel their boss or management team cared about their happiness.

Why we work

So, what makes employees get up and go to work each day? When asked about their primary driver for working, employees gave answers that made these the top 5 priorities on average:

  1. Remuneration for the work they do (38%)
  2. Relationship with their colleagues (37%)
  3. Relationship with boss and/or management (25%)
  4. Annual leave allocation (20%)
  5. Financial bonuses (13%)

However, these priorities changed slightly from group to group. For over 45s, the main driver was the nature of the work they do and the sense of purpose it gives them, and this was true for microbusiness employees too. For small businesses (5-50 employees) and medium businesses (50-500 employees, relationships with colleagues was top of the list.

Increasing employee happiness

What, then, can bosses do to increase the happiness of their workforce? Their employees have some suggestions, although not all may be popular (or practical!):

  1. A 25% pay rise (44%)
  2. A 10% pay rise (35%)
  3. Feeling valued and being thanked by bosses (21%)
  4. Promotion (20%)
  5. Increased recognition of the work they do and their contribution to the company (20%)

Other suggestions included more benefits (e.g. gym membership subsidies) and rewards, more training and development opportunities, a nicer workspace and better facilities (e.g. air con).

However, there was a noticeable dislike of ‘forced fun’, such as team-building activities and compulsory or semi-compulsory social events, particularly if they took place outside of working hours and/or involved costs that come out of the employee’s pocket.

“Positive employee morale is an essential cornerstone of a successful business – an unhappy workforce is not only disengaged, but unproductive and unprofitable,” says One4all’s UK managing director, Alan Smith, in his summary. “As such, it is vital that employers regularly take stock of the human side of their business.”

The report suggests that employers should do more to gauge their employees’ happiness and improve it, by having more one-to-one meetings, sending out employee surveys and installing suggestion boxes.

Is your workplace a happy one? If you’re the owner or manager of an SME, do you feel you and your management team do enough to ensure your employees are happy? What works well in your workplace? Comment below and let us know.