What's making the world's happiest workforces smile?

Some countries and companies will just put you in a better mood as employee. Here's who's taking the lead...

As things go, as a collective workforce we aren’t faring too badly at all – according to a 2016 study by jobs recruitment website Indeed.com, Ireland boasts the fourth happiest employees in the world. Not only that, Dublin ranked top amongst European cities.

There’s always room for improvement, however. Apparently people in Colombia, Mexico and Russia have bigger smiles on their faces of a Monday morning.

The survey broke that often-elusive “happiness” down into five different elements in work:
  1. work-life balance
  2. office culture
  3. quality of management
  4. job security and advancement
  5. and compensations and benefits
Looking at the global picture, it’s getting that “work-life balance” right that ensures maximum satisfaction in your job – compensation comes at the bottom of the list, meaning that the majority people really aren’t overly hung up on money. Instead, finding harmony between work demands and a fulfilling personal life is key.

This is clearly in evidence in California. Residents of Los Angeles ranked as the happiest workers in the whole of the United States and, despite its ties to glamorous gigs in the entertainment industry, those involved in volunteerism were actually happier than highly-paid producers. The year-round sunshine probably helps to lift the overall mood as well, of course, compared to people working logging jobs in snowy Alaska.

American author and philosopher Matthew Crawford argues that the office might be at the root of the problem. In his book The Case For Working With Your Hands, he does just that, suggesting that we didn’t evolve for white-collar work and that would get far more satisfaction from fixing things, getting physical, or building something tangible by the end of the day.

TINYpulse’s 2015 Best Industry Ranking report, based on anonymous surveys of over 30,000 US employees, found that construction workers are the happiest around. But office jobs aren’t going away, and working as a gardener sounds just lovely until you look outside and watch the Irish weather go from windy, to wet, to hailstones. So let’s sticking with the desk job and find the best of it.

A study by Warwick University economists published in the Journal of Labor Economics in 2015 attempted to find a scientific basis for a happy workplace. Speaking to Workplace Focus, one researcher, Dr Eugenio Proto, said it found no single way to raise morale: “There are different ways, from providing nicer office spaces or entertainment, to securing a good pension scheme, higher wages and other benefits, and guaranteeing a good level of sociability”.

The UK charity Action for Happiness (AFH) urged in the same article for happiness to become a priority.
Like the Warwick report – which found that the productivity of happy employees was 12% higher than their unhappy colleagues - AFH director Mark Williamson argued that the benefits for employers is manifold in the long-run. His recipe for a happy staff?
  1. Autonomy: people having a sense of control over their work
  2. Relationships: enjoying the company of their colleagues, and a supportive environment
  3. Progress: a regular sense of accomplishment in the position, and feeling that tasks are
  4. Meaning: quite simply, everybody wants to make a difference
At the end of the day, happy staff puts you ahead of the pack – and what business doesn't want to get ahead?

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