What Glassdoor Data Tells Us About How to Make Employees Happy

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Here are the top five reasons employees deliberately and publicly praise their companies.

Keeping employees happy, engaged, and productive is easier said than done. Companies with happy employees outperform the competition by 20 percent.

A recent January 2016 study of Glassdoor research, where 2,000 reviews of all Fortune 500 companies were analyzed, reveals exactly what it takes to keep employees happy.

The top positive and negative drivers for rating an employer on Glassdoor (in other words, the reasons behind an employee evaluating his or her employer on Glassdoor in the first place) prove exactly what employees are prioritizing in the workplace.

The data shows a correlation between organizations prioritizing these initiatives, and the ones that don’t.

Here are the top five reasons employees deliberately and publicly praise their companies or in other words, the five things employers can do to increase employee happiness (and maybe even their Glassdoor rating):

Related Article: Make It Great: Company Culture Tips From the Best Places to Work

Actually Pay and Reward Employees for Their Hard Work

An overwhelming 35 percent of the reviews on Glassdoor mention benefits and perks at their organization as a “pro” of working at that organization. In other words, employees value rewards and perks and are happier and more satisfied when they’re being rewarded fairly a no-brainer. There is major disruption happening within Fortune 500 and enterprise organizations today around compensation and employee development.

A recent Willis Towers Watson study showed why incentive pay plans are falling short barely one-third (32 percent) of executives polled think their programs are “effective at differentiating pay based on individual performance.” The leading companies are rewarding for performance, paying employees fairly and offering benefits like paid family leave and unlimited vacation.

Don’t Kill That (Office) Vibe

It’s no surprise that a collaborative culture and work environment can have a positive impact on the happiness of an employee. In fact, more than 500 of the 2,000 (26 percent) Glassdoor reviews listed company culture or work environment as a benefit, or “pro,” of working at that company.

One Johnson & Johnson employee wrote that "working under the guise of the J&J credo provides a clear roadmap of the expectations of all employees." Employees that understand a company’s priorities and how their individual work plays a role in meeting long-term goals, they become better collaborators. One study even showed that Millennials prefer a collaborative work culture to a competitive one.

Give Employees the Opportunity to Grow

Of the 2000 Glassdoor reviews, only eight percent mentioned development and learning as pros. Yet we know just how important growth and development can be to employees not only as individuals but also to company productivity and profitability. A study by Deloitte named professional development as the number one driver of engagement for employees under the age of 25 and the second priority for employees under 35.

Organizations with a strong development culture are 52 percent more productive and 17 percent more profitable than their peers. When employers put goals and feedback front and center, they’re automatically creating avenues for deeper growth and development, a win-win for the organization and its employees.

Related Article:Do Nice Businesses Finish First? The Perils of a Toxic Culture

Build a Community of Workers That Like to Be Around Each Other

Co-workers play a vital role in our work experience. That’s why nearly one in five Glassdoor reviewers across F500 companies named “co-workers” or “people” as a pro at their organization. Simply put, colleagues can be uplifting or draining, and all-around they are one of the biggest indicators of employee happiness.

Interaction with peers matters to workers feel more supported when peers are interacting, praising and collaborating on their work. In looking at data across BetterWorks, one midwestern-based healthcare provider reported more than a thousand cheers from its community of several hundred employees. The data showed a direct correlation between cheers and encouragement and check-ins on actual work progress.

Invest in Your Managers

Only one percent of Glassdoor reviewers named “management” as a pro. This surprisingly low percent reveals the dire disconnect we’re seeing between managers and employees. Some companies are excelling in this area, like Schneider Electric, who had one employee offer positive comments on Glassdoor for being “good at recognizing people for outstanding contributions.”

Yet a myriad of organizations are falling short in this area, and it’s ultimately causing employees distress. As big businesses focus on moving to models of continuous performance conversations, often instead of performance rankings and ratings, it allows managers to better coach and provide feedback to employees.

Business owners should address the state of employee happiness within their organizations, given the correlation between happiness and productivity. In fact, one study found that productivity jumped by 12 percent when employees were feeling happy.  While there is no exact equation to making every employee happy, the Glassdoor research did reveal the top five categories that require imminent change and upkeep from business leaders.

Top companies from GE to Deloitte to Adobe are flipping their performance management processes upside down, all with the intention of putting employees first. Trying to keep employees aligned by making goal-setting and achievement and recognizing employees for their achievements public. Specifically, helping your employees understand their purpose at work through OKR goal setting can turn a group of disengaged employees into a happier, more engaged and focused workforce.

Related Article:What Do a Company’s Core Values Say About Its Culture?

We can all agree that people are an organization’s number one asset, so keeping them happy should be all organization’s number one priority.

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