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  • Rob Houghton

Great Realization Part II: 12 Key Drivers to Happiness in the Workplace

Updated: Feb 15


As promised in my blog of last week, The Great Realization: Workers have discovered Happiness in the Workplace”, I have listed below the 12 Key Drivers to Happiness in the Workplace below.


These drivers were identified in a study conducted by Indeed in consultation with leading happiness experts, Lyubomirksy and Dr. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, director of Oxford University’s Wellbeing Research Centre.


The 12 Drivers:


Belonging: Do your employees feel like they are part of the company? Are they part of the decision-making process? Do they have a say in the tactical decisions that affect their department? Does the supervisor manage and lead in a collaborative manner?


Energy: Is your staff truly energized in their duties? Do they actively participate in company activities? Are they excited about what they do? Do they go above and beyond the call of duty on a consistent basis?


Appreciation: How many times are your employees given a proverbial pat on the back? Do their managers say, “Hey, thanks for doing that” when a job is well done? Or does management believe that is what they get paid to do anyway? People are so busy these days, they forget to appreciate folks for a job well done. A simple, “thank you” means a lot to someone.


Purpose: Why I am here? This is a common question all employees have. Is management really taking the time to communicate the long-term goals and strategy of the company? Is this effectively communicated on a regular basis? Is it communicated on a piece of paper described as a Mission Statement framed in the reception area or is it communicated through consistent actions of the leadership?


Achievement: Is staff given regular feedback on their progress against agreed-upon benchmarks and metrics? Do they have mutually agreed upon benchmarks and metrics? I am amazed when I provide executive coaching to a client only to find out that they are no benchmarks or metrics that the staff is being measured against? Is there an incentive bonus program? How do employees get bonuses? Is it decided based on the goodwill of Mr. & Mrs. Owner at the end of the year (no doubt, under the influence of alcohol) or is it quantitatively and qualitatively measured throughout the year? Are employees recognized in front of their peers?


Compensation: Are your employees compensated fairly? I publish and send out a bi-annual Salary Report for all insurance brokerage professionals in the WDC region. Most of my client hiring authorities look forward to reading this report all year. The ones that don’t? They lose employees to those firms who have kept up with the competitive landscape and recent compensation trends. There are mom-and-pop insurance agencies that have staff that are 30%+ underpaid. They can count their blessings these folks have their head in the sand.


Support: Is your organization team-oriented? Or is it a clique? I know of one firm that has difficulty retaining talent because they are located in a certain wealthy ‘blue-blood’ country club community and prefer staff who have lived in this town for generations. For those outsiders who are brought in, well, they have a tough time getting out of the gate because the other staff look down upon them and are reluctant to help. They don’t last long. I know because they call me.


Learning: Are your employees learning new things? Are they challenged? Candidates call me mostly for two main reasons: 1) I am not challenged. 2) I am not appreciated. Staff should be encouraged and incentivized to add to their skill set, add to their certifications, learn new products, maybe even cross-train a bit. If you don’t intellectually challenge your staff, somebody else will.


Inclusion: Are your employees respected? Firms have made major progress in this area as Human Resources has done a good job in generating general awareness about the importance of inclusion in the workplace.


Flexibility: Do you offer your employees a flexible work schedule? Nobody (and I mean nobody) is working M-F/8-5 anymore. Those days are gone forever. A post-Covid work schedule is going to be more of a Hybrid environment where workers come into the office only two or three days per week, and in many cases, will continue to work 100% remotely. Candidate searches for clients that offer remote or even hybrid work environments, require 30 – 45 days for my firm to fill a position. Those clients who are stuck in pre-Covid daily commuting mode have to wait six months plus to fill positions of need.


Trust: Do management trust staff and vice versa? Probably not. Are sales commission plans ever changed? Does management deliver on promises of bonuses if profits are generated? Are these bonuses paid out? Are promises of promotions kept? I just had a top-shelf, highly respected candidate call me and tell me she was promised a promotion from Account Executive to National Practice Leader last November. That was rescinded due to “budget cuts” last Thursday. She called me the day after on Friday. I have her set up for two separate client interviews this week. Yes, it happens that fast.


Management: Do your senior executives lead or manage? Anyone can manage. Few can lead men and women into battle whether it be on the battlefield or in the office. Leaders empower and enable their direct reports. They groom them for success. They take the time to train, mentor, and help them succeed. They are accountable. They take the bullet for the direct report who made a mistake. Do your executives do this?


None of the above-mentioned is difficult to implement. It just takes time and focus.

Remember: The winners of tomorrow are not the firms with the best equipment and the best technology…it’s the ones with the best Talent. Those are the differentiators. And those are the winners.


¹ Indeed Workplace Happiness Report, a commissioned study (n=1,534 UK adults) conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Indeed, 2021.

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: 1,534 UK adults were surveyed.




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