An uptick in happiness for Aussie workers
A recent survey of over 1000 Australian office staff has confirmed that over 80% are happy in their jobs. Have Australian businesses discovered a magic pill for staff engagement? Not quite, but almost.
When specialist recruiter Robert Half surveyed 1004 Australian office workers in May 2016, they were surprised to discover an increase in the number of people claiming to be happy in their jobs. After almost a decade of economic turbulence, job insecurity and delayed pay rises, something appears to have dramatically changed.
A whopping 84% of Australian office workers say they are happy in their current job and 34% are apparently ‘very happy’. Only 12% reported dissatisfaction.
So what is the secret recipe? What is in the Australian water? What sort of crazy happiness drug are Australian businesses slipping to their staff?
The top five things that people most like about their jobs, according to the Robert Half research, are:
- Work/life balance (74%)
- Salary and bonus (58%)
- Colleagues/managers (57%)
- Job content (48%)
- Company culture (24%)
With work/life balance coming in convincingly ahead of remuneration, it seems that the tough times suffered by most businesses over the past decade have paid off in an unexpected way. The flexibility many companies have been forced to introduce in lieu of pay rises has helped to improve the happiness levels of their staff.
Satisfied employees are the perfect brand ambassadors, which can position the company as an employer of choice.
And what of the things that take away from that happiness? Interestingly, the things staff say would be most likely to damage their chances of being happy at work are:
- Lack of career progression opportunities (64%)
- Lack of business travel opportunities (55%)
- Lack of non-financial benefits (52%)
- Company culture (40%)
- Salary and bonus (26%)
Once again, salary has been trumped - this time by four unique factors.
The results show that a corner has been turned, and it is no secret that great staff morale is good for businesses as well as the individuals within that business.
“While companies put customer satisfaction as a high priority on their business agenda, employee satisfaction is just as important to the overall function and success of any business,” says David Jones, Senior Managing Director of Robert Half Asia Pacific.
“Happy employees are generally more productive and motivated, ensuring they are ready to serve customers both internally and externally above the parity line. As a result, companies improve their bottom line performance.”
The research identified that fact that Australian office workers say they are more productive when they are happy (42%) and they feel more motivated when morale is high (28%). For a smaller amount of staff, a good level of happiness means they will stay longer with the company (15%).
Happy employees are generally more productive and motivated, ensuring they are ready to serve customers both internally and externally above the parity line.
“Employee satisfaction doesn’t only impact employee retention; it also influences a company’s acquisition strategy,” David says. “Satisfied employees are the perfect brand ambassadors, which can position the company as an employer of choice.”
The happiness factor is good for everybody, but experts at Robert Half warn it is important that current figures do not cause complacency. The tide can turn very quickly in terms of staff morale as soon as a negative change is perceived to have occurred.
In the meantime, Australian businesses can pat themselves on the back and begin to conduct their own research to find out exactly what it is they are doing right. More of that will be a very good thing.
About the author
Chris Sheedy is one of Australia’s busiest and most successful freelance writers. He has been published regularly in the Sydney Morning Herald, Virgin Australia Voyeur, The Australian Magazine, GQ, In The Black, Cadillac, Management Today, Men’s Fitness and countless other big-brand publications. He is frequently commissioned to carry out copywriting and corporate writing projects for organisations, including banks, universities, television networks, restaurant chains and major charities, through his business The Hard Word.