Employee Happiness Is Key Predictor of Loyalty

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By Caryn Freeman

Nov. 18 — Tracking employee happiness can help employers determine which workers are most likely to leave the organization and how to get them to change their minds, according to a report released by Swedish-based employer branding firm Universum.

“Universum Global Workforce Happiness Index: 2016,” released Nov. 11, featured responses from more than 250,000 working professionals in 55 markets in the first quarter of 2015.

The scoring system combines worker satisfaction, willingness to recommend their current employer, and their likelihood of switching jobs in the near future to measure workers' happiness in their current job and career.

The report found that 28 percent of employees in the U.S. and Canada have considered leaving their employer and moving to a competitor within the last 12 months. About half (49 percent) of U.S. employees are confident they can find a job that matches their current compensation level within six months of beginning a search, the report said.

Find ‘Human Reasons' for Turnover

Kathryn Callow, global employer brand manager at Ferrero, an Italian-based chocolate manufacturer and the third biggest chocolate producer and confectionery company in the world, told Bloomberg BNA Nov. 18 that there's plenty human resources can and should do in light of the report's findings.

She urged employers to treat employees with a blended approach. “There is no work-life balance distinction; now it's one piece,” she said.

She said employers should look beyond the data and find the “human reasons” for attrition and turnover.

“Why has this happened and what can we do? Organizations should consider why the aspiration for happiness has occurred in this generation when other predecessors saw job fulfillment as hierarchy prestige and pay,” she said.

The Universum survey found that the top five “happy” industries are legal services; aerospace and defense; educational and scientific institutions; insurance; and technology, hardware and equipment. The bottom five are health care services; media and advertising; tourism; engineering and manufacturing; and retail, the report said.

Four Types of Employees

The report highlights four employee types employers can identify to address their retention needs: stranded, seekers, restless and fulfilled.

“Stranded” employees are dissatisfied in their current jobs but are unmotivated or unwilling to make a change. “Seekers” are dissatisfied at work but also are looking for a change.

Callow said to deal with “stranded” employees, companies should “bring in key strategies, however small, to start to break up” mundane, day-to-day routines. “This could be events, benefits or other employees—your agents of change to break and challenge the status quo,” she explained.

The report said the third group, restless employees, require immediate attention. These workers are satisfied at work and even likely to recommend the company as a place of employment, but are also open to changing jobs.

Claudia Tattanelli, global director of Universum, told Bloomberg BNA that restless employees often reflect the attitude of millennials, who “always have their resume ready for a new and better opportunity.”

“This group needs to hear about different careers the company can offer,” she said. “Reminding employees how they can have many careers within the same company will keep them from considering other opportunities, but they need constant communication and active branding to be reminded why your company is the best place to work.”

The report said employees in the “fulfilled” category are satisfied, feel positive about the company and are not interested in changing jobs. “These are stable, loyal employees; however employers should never assume fulfilled employees will stay this way,” the report said.

Craig Fisher, head of marketing and talent acquisition at CA Technologies, a New York City-based software company, told Bloomberg BNA Nov. 18 that fulfilled workers should be sought out and lauded as champions.

“Put them in videos and let them lead projects and events,” he said. “These are your best resources, but not if they get stale or too complacent. Engage, engage, engage your fulfilled employees.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Caryn Freeman in Washington at cfreeman@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at snadel@bna.com

To order an executive summary of the report, go to http://universumglobal.com/workforce-happiness-index/.