15Five’s 2018 Employee Happiness Survey

What truly motivates employees? What do they need to be successful and fulfilled week after week?

15Five surveyed 1,000 U.S. employees across just about every industry to learn what makes people feel happy and fulfilled in their work and what conditions allow them to perform at their peak.

What we found was surprising!

Things are looking pretty good for workplace happiness.

The top cited reasons for unhappiness at work (56% of respondent answers) is feeling under-appreciated or undervalued at their current job.

Oftentimes, you’ll find that the obstacle is the way that leads to the solution. We found this to be true when we asked respondents to choose what motivates them most to perform at work.

Higher pay is the top motivator for higher performance (27%), followed by more appreciation, more opportunities for growth and development, and more opportunities for advancement at about 13% each.

It’s All About Employee Feedback

Managers are the most important group that influences employee engagement and performance.

According to Gallup, managers account for up 70% of the variance in employee engagement. When managers hold regular check-ins with their employees to review progress, teams are more likely to believe they get paid fairly, are more likely to stay with the company, and are twice as likely to recommend the company to others as a great place to work.

It’s no wonder that employees are 3X more likely to be engaged at work if they have managers who hold regular meetings with them.

Manager and employee check-ins may just be the single most important and actionable thing you can do to improve the performance of your company. Yet many companies aren’t doing them.

Our survey has found

Only about 1/3 of companies check-in regularly 
(at least every other week)

of companies are holding weekly 1-on-1 meetings
of companies either have never held a 
1-on-1 meeting or do this rarely.

Weekly 1-on-1s are a vital element of your management strategy, as they help managers build relationships with employees, provide coaching and mentorship, and re-align everyone with team and company goals.

Nearly half of respondents (46%) want more positive feedback from their managers during their one on one meetings, as well as insights into the areas where they can improve both professionally and personally.

Focus on Employee Growth & Development

don't feel like they're growing at their jobs.
said they want to set development objectives and be held to them.
want frank discussions about their performance.

What does this mean?

Employees want to hold regular development conversations with their managers.

Purpose Driven Employees Are Happy Employees

We also uncovered some fascinating data around purpose at work.

Not only do employees want to grow personally and professionally, but their satisfaction also comes from contributing to something larger than themselves.

Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Trends Study of 7,600 global business executives, HR leaders and employees, found that 76% of employees who feel personally and professionally fulfilled report that their company has a strong sense of purpose, in which they’re given opportunities for movement, learning, and experimentation.

And according to former Bruderman Brothers CEO, Oliver Pursche, purpose-driven companies are also smart investments. Pursche cites this research from the EY Bacon Institute:

Purpose-led brands are more successful in acquiring and retaining customers. This may make intuitive sense, but it is also backed up by behavioral science: people buy things that make them feel good about themselves. And people do business with those they trust.”

Just how important is purpose?

Prepare to be astonished…

of employees want to work for a purpose driven company.
of respondents said that working at a purpose-driven company makes them happier, more motivated, and more high-achieving.
said working at a purpose-driven company is "extremely important."

Survey Demographics

This survey was administered in 2018 and received 1,000 responses from working Americans in every state and in just about every industry. Here are the demographics of the respondents:

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