How to Cultivate Employee Happiness in 2017

We all find happiness in our own way. Our hobbies, relationships and work are shaped by what makes us feel happy and fulfilled. There also are other elements we assign to happiness, such as wealth, success, fame and popularity. When Harvard conducted a study spanning 75 to find what makes people happiest in their lives, they found one consistent theme about what matters most: supportive, trusting relationships determine happiness in life.

In celebration of the International Day of Happiness, we’re digging into how happiness is measured and what lessons can be applied to organizational culture and success.


Today, Gallup released a study ranking the happiness of every country in the world. (By the way, the U.S. was ranked 14th in the world.) To determine happiness metrics, this study used the Cantril Self-Anchoring Scale. The Cantril Scale is a measure from one to 10, with 10 representing a self-identification of an individual’s best life and a one representing the individual self-reporting for their worst life scenarios. Using this scale, they evaluated and developed three distinct groups of well-being: thriving, struggling and suffering.

A well-being program that is “thriving” appears as being consistent and progressive, with positive views on life both now and in the future. We can all agree this sounds like an ideal culture to work in. On the other side of the spectrum is suffering. A “suffering” well-being is rife with a poor outlook on life at its current state and negative views towards the future. People are financially strained, less healthy and experience physical pain, stress and other negative feelings.


Remember your employees are whole people, with goals and aspirations of their own. Improving employee happiness starts with Human Performance by first learning what their goals are in key areas of life: Health & Fitness, Money & Prosperity, Learning & Development and Contribution & Sustainability. You can create more resilient, more capable individuals by strengthening these four elements, which in turn creates a stronger organization.

To test Gallup’s study approach for yourself, survey employee happiness by asking each employee two short questions:

1. What is your current happiness (one being the worst life imaginable, 10 being the very best)

2. What is your outlook for happiness five years from now?

This should give a good idea of where your company sits on the well-being ladder. Are your employees thriving? If not, it may be time to reevaluate your well-being approach.