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Feb 12, 2015

Recently, TINYhr released its 2015 Best Industry Ranking Report. The purpose of the survey that inspired the report was to answer the question of how the industry they’re in affects employee happiness.

Here’s what the survey says:

Happy Industry Rankings (in order of happiness quotient)

  1. Construction and Facilities Services;
  2. Consumer Products and Services;
  3. Technology and Software;
  4. Telecom, Energy, and Utilities;
  5. Health care, Pharmaceuticals, and Biotech;
  6. Hospitality;
  7. Media and Entertainment;
  8. Finance and Insurance;
  9. Education;
  10. Business Services and Consulting;
  11. Government and Nonprofit
  12. Manufacturing

As I stated to David Niu (Founder and CEO of TINYhr) in an email, I’m not at all surprised to find Government and Nonprofit at the bottom of the list, but were you aware that nonprofit workplaces can be a veritable haven for bullies? Everyone I know who’s ever worked in nonprofit is all too cognizant of that fact. Sigh.

At any rate, the team at TINYhr makes no judgments. They did however, review the data to determine why workers in construction are so darn happy.

What makes for a happy workplace

What the folks at TINYhr found is that workplace happiness has two primary drivers:

  • Satisfaction with colleagues;
  • Satisfaction with the nature of the job and projects.

More than a third (34 percent) of workers in Construction and Facilities agreed with the statement, “I work with great people.” Some 19 percent said they were excited about work and projects, and 10 percent “enjoy a positive work environment.”

Now this is interesting and brings front and center the reality that surveys are all about comparison. Here you have workers in the happiest industry, and even they’re not that happy. Only 10 percent say they enjoy a positive work environment? Only 34 percent think they work with great people? What about the other 66 percent?

What’s going on here? Am I reading these numbers right? If so, I can’t help concluding there must be a lot of grumpy workers out there. I mean a LOT.

What to do?

Fortunately, the survey report contains more than a list. Instead, the findings are complemented by suggestions for happier employees, including:

  • Hire for cultural fit. Yes, I know it isn’t earth shattering, but that doesn’t make it untrue. Employers also are given some tips about areas to focus on during the hiring/promotion process such as the candidate’s collaboration skills, ability to operate well under stress, methods for communicating expectations, and ability to manage up and down. (Gee, I wish more employers would take that last one to heart. Many people are great at managing up — that is, they’re fabulous at impression management and kissing butt — but they’re lousy at managing down.)
  • Hire for work fit. Most everyone wants a promotion, and some will take it and then hate the job. How can employers avoid that?

What NOT to do?

According to the survey report, the top three drivers of workplace dissatisfaction are:

  1. Unsupportive managers;
  2. Not having the right tools to do the job; and,
  3. Little to no opportunities for advancement.

Again, none of this is groundbreaking, but it reiterates the point that workers are human and desire positive social interaction and some degree of intellectual stimulation to be satisfied. (There’s no getting around this, folks.)

The report also links employee engagement/happiness to innovation, retention, and revenue — all things business people presumably take interest in — so groundbreaking or not, the report is worth a read.

It’s all relative

Finally, the survey report makes one other claim I’d like to pass along:

From the report: “Transparency is the  No. 1 factor contributing to employee happiness. Organizations that fail to share information and trends will have unhappy employees.”

(Reminds me of the lyrics to that Jill Scott song Talk to Me: “What makes me fear/when your personality isn’t clear/I make things up in my mind…” )

So there you have it. Happiness is relative. Nonetheless, if you want your employees to be as happy as they can be, reward good behavior (thereby creating gracious colleagues and supportive managers), hire for work fit (so people like what they’re doing), and ask for input.

Easy peasy.

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