The adage that you can’t put a price on happiness is finally being challenged, at least in the context of small business. Office suppliers Viking have conducted research that suggests employers with 50 staff or fewer can buy each of their workers’ happiness for £476 per head.
This figure won’t instantly mean your workforce achieves nirvana, but a 35% increase in employee happiness is not to be sniffed at. It’s certainly cheaper than a £5,000 annual pay rise that will, says the study of over 1,000 employees, be 10 times less effective. A worryingly high proportion of workers (42%) report being unhappy at work. The main reasons given include a lack of job security (47%) and discontent with the employee benefits package (53%).
The research indicates increased training, combined with social events such as karaoke and bowling, could be the answer. Simply encouraging staff to take regular training can raise their sense of value within the organisation, leading to a 22% increase in happiness.
Viking head of events Sophie Christopher believes employers are often spending more money on higher salaries when a much more cost-effective solution is right under their noses.
“We often think that more money will bring greater happiness, and while this is true to a certain extent, it is not the whole story. Employees value being valued – whether that’s through a night out with colleagues or a training course,” she says.
The research is certainly timely. Training budgets are continuing to shrink, with the median going down from £303 per employee in 2013 to £286 in the first half of this year. But if Dolly Parton had received regular coaching or got to stretch her vocal chords once in a while, maybe she wouldn’t have minded working 9 to 5 as much.