On this the first world happiness day, how happy are you in your job? What would make you happier? If your employer knew this could you work at a higher level of efficiency?

Analytics is gaining more focus within HR departments as more and more companies are realising the importance of understanding employee performance data. While all companies have traditional HR departments their remit and focus is traditionally focused on ensuring the correct number of full time employee’s to meet resource requirements and dealing with disputes. It is not to optimise those employee’s already in place and certainly not related to their happiness. With many early workplace analytics systems focusing solely on staff output there is much more to be gained from focusing on employee morale and happiness instead.

A seismic shift change in culture is required within many companies to move from the business orientated focus to the analysis of the employee and their happiness. It is this lack of focus that causes many companies to be blissfully unaware of productivity issues cause by low morale. So if the overall aim is to optimise staff morale and motivation and thus keep productivity high how is that best achieved?

Happy Kitten

Not in the way that many companies currently attempt to perform this task, usually waiting either for a problem to be identified too late or by taking the usual yearly data collection principle. Its an all too familiar story of leaving it too late and being forced to bring in outside consultants. Take for example the recent case of FEMA where their issue was that a large portion of their staff were not included in their regular data collection by HR and as such had no voice. Of course low morale can happen for many reasons including changes to or lack of leadership and vision, lack of accountability, lack of career options and many more but without a consistent and regular measurement in place build into the company culture how do you know until its too late that you have a problem, after all we all know how contagious low staff morale can be.

We can see this culture already in place at companies such as Google and their HR Department or as its known “People Operations” department (POPS for short). Their POPS department is responsible for collecting and analysing employee-data. There are many benefits that this has generated ultimately leading to a happier workforce.

There are of course many ways to positively affect staff morale. In recent studies it has been shown that one of the key factors was that of progress. When staff feel that they are making a difference and ultimately making progress in the work they are doing they feel happier. Google’s approach to-date has been to test a host of different assertions around staff morale and measure the effectiveness, the idea of test and measure sounds familiar doesn’t it? The traditional way of increasing happiness in the workplace is of course a pay rise but there is research that shows this does not guarantee happiness (there are some great Ted Talks around this).

If you are not measuring your workforce morale then how can you be sure that you are getting the optimal performance from your staff? That’s not through a yearly or quarterly survey but rather through a program of continued data collection in a cycle of staff optimisation. With a focus on the employee and not on the shareholder or senior management but rather at the employee level. Only with that level of focus will staff productivity reach it’s optimal level.