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5 companies that prove employee happiness is key to business success

Akanksha Tanwar

Last Updated: 14 June 2023

In this article:

I recently stumbled upon this amazing review on Glassdoor about Slack. It was from an employee who seemed genuinely happy and satisfied with their work and the organization as a whole. 

Reading that review got me thinking: How can all employers replicate this kind of success and receive such glowing reviews from their employees? I mean, think about it - how do the best companies in the world manage to keep their employees happy? And not just happy, but how do they actually drive business success as a result of this happiness?

In fact, with employee happiness being linked to employee performance these questions are becoming more pertinent than ever. 

It's a compelling topic to explore because if employers can unlock the secret to fostering employee happiness and engagement, they could potentially unlock a whole new level of productivity and success within their organizations. So, let's dive into it and uncover the strategies that these top companies employ to create a positive and impactful work environment

Impact of employee happiness on business outcomes

The simple answer to this question is the impact of employee happiness and engagement (or the lack thereof) on the top line. 

A portfolio of companies ranked in the top 10% by employee satisfaction outperformed those ranked in the bottom 10% by 2.3% to 3.8% per year in stock returns.

However, employee happiness has various other impacts at various levels. 

  1. Lack of employee happiness and satisfaction can lead to attrition. In 2022, 34.4% of employees left an organization due to the absence of work-life balance and flexibility. (Read this report to find out the top 5 reasons for employee attrition based on insights from 700K employees). 
  2. Attrition means re-hiring for those roles which is a cost to the company. The higher the designation or more niche the role higher the cost to the company. The average cost of hiring an employee is $4,700. 
  3. Unhappy employees also mean unproductive employees which once more is a loss to the company. Companies lose an average of $2,246 for every disengaged employee. 
  4. And finally, the cost of training employees is lost every time an unhappy employee becomes unproductive or leaves the company. 

The bottom line, unhappy employees mean a loss to the business. Period. 

You know your employees are happy when…

So the question is - how do you know if your employees are happy or not? To start with, there are some obvious signs. 

  • They are engaged and self-motivated to work.
  • They are optimistic and work with a positive frame of mind.
  • They enjoy good relationships with their managers and coworkers.
  • They are seldom absent from work or missing in action and are punctual. 
  • They share positive feedback about their managers, teams, and the organization. 
  • They are at a lower risk of leaving and are more likely to stay with the company.
  • They enjoy good physical and mental health and take fewer sick leaves.
  • They give a good review for your company even after they have exited the organization.

But beyond the obvious, there are also scientific and process-oriented ways to proactive gauge employee happiness and engagement and take preventive measures to safeguard yourself against the losses associated with unhappy employees. 

Tools & techniques to measure employee happiness

1. Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) 

This metric asks the employees to rate an organization on a scale of 0-10 to know how likely they are to promote the company to other job seekers. inFeedo’s eNPS Survey syncs well with the employee listening program to help you retain existing employees and attract fresh talent.

2. Pulse surveys

These are short surveys conducted regularly to gather employee feedback on particular topics like manager effectiveness, team effectiveness, employee experience, and more. Pulse surveys help leaders in measuring employee engagement and happiness. 

3. Exit interviews

These interviews are conducted at the time of an employee leaving an organization and sometimes even after they have left. Exit interviews are effective in uncovering the cold hard facts about why employees leave and what leads to a general sense of unhappiness among them. 

4. Anonymous surveys

Enabling employees to share how they feel through an anonymous channel is also a great way to know if your employees are happy and the reasons that make them dissatisfied. In a rare instance, Amber’s anonymous bot helped save a life by identifying and highlighting an employee who wanted to end their life due to challenging circumstances.

5. AI-enabled real-time surveys

Lastly, AI-enabled tools like Amber are a great way to keep track of people’s pulse. 

  • Amber enables HR leaders to run engagement surveys and gather feedback in real time. 
  • Its conversation AI feature makes employees feel like they are talking to a real person instead of a bot. 
  • Amber’s extensive people analytics feature provides HRBPs with a real-time view of the employee’s pulse. 
  • Its AI action planning feature facilitates real-time action on feedback by HRBPs and ensures employees feel heard and valued. 

5 companies that have aced employee happiness   

1. Mariott International - People-led 

Marriot has made it to the list of 100 Best Companies to Work For every year since its inception. “Great organization to work for”, “constant learning”, “more growth opportunities”, and “great leader”- these are things you’ll often hear in the context of the experience of working at Mariott International. 

One of the main reasons why Mariott has been able to ace employee happiness is its people-led culture. As CHRO of 19 years Ty Breland says, “Our culture is grounded in a phrase that we’ve used for close to 95 years, and that’s putting people first”. 

Every decision that is taken at Mariott is taken by asking how this will impact the employees. 

In an interview with Fortune, Breland also emphasized the fact by saying, “It’s the very first question we ask and we wrestle through that. We think through that. And then we move on to other elements of the strategy. But it always starts with that putting people first mindset.”

2. Adobe - Listening to employees 

In a survey run for the happiest employees, Adobe came out on the top. And one of the main reasons for that is its listening culture. 

To enhance its understanding of the pandemic's impact on employees, Gloria Chen, Adobe's Chief People Officer, reveals that the company utilized surveys, all-hands meetings, and focus groups to gauge employee sentiment. 

In response to the feedback received, Adobe implemented various measures. These include monthly companywide days off, granting 20 additional paid days off annually for employees affected by major events such as pandemics or natural disasters, offering flexible work schedules for caregiving duties, and increasing wellness reimbursement to $600 per year.

At the core of Adobe’s employee happiness is their willingness to listen to employee feedback and take action on it in real time. 

3. Salesforce - Leadership

When it comes to winning awards for workplace culture, Salesforce is out there. Best companies to work for, workplaces for diversity, best workplaces for women - you name it and Salesforce has found itself on the list. 

One of the key reasons for Salesforce’s success in employee satisfaction is its leadership. And this being’s to trickle down right from its CEO - Marc Benioff.

Marc is a champion for gender pay equality. Under his progressive leadership, he's been able to fix pay discrepancies by dedicating over $8 million to correct compensation differences by gender, race, and ethnicity across the company.

He also drew inspiration from “Ohana” a traditional Hawaiian philosophy about “family” and assimilated it into the company’s culture when he founded Salesforce.

All this along with the fact that the leadership puts in a great deal of effort in ensuring that its employees are treated fairly results in employee happiness and play a role in putting Salesforce on the map when it comes to employee experience

4. HubSpot - Employee well-being 

As per Amber’s employee experience report from 2022, work-life balance and flexibility were the number one reason employees said bye to an organization. 

In the same year, Hubspot was voted one of the best places to work by Glassdoor. And one of the main reasons for it is the autonomy, flexibility, and work-life balance it provides to its employees. 

In this Glassdoor review and employee shares - “HubSpot has prioritized its culture and the wellbeing of its employees, unlike anything I have ever seen. From day one, I felt a noticeable shift in how I thought about work and how excited I was to get the opportunity to be a part of something so special. ”

During the height of the COVID-19 challenges, while many leaders were dealing with the situation, Hubspot took remarkable measures to tackle employee burnout, enhance flexibility, and boost diversity, equity, and inclusion. They introduced initiatives like a Global Week of Rest, No Meeting Fridays, remote work from any country, and empowering more women in leadership roles. They came, they listened, and they changed - all for employee well-being. 

5. Cisco - Conscious culture

In 2023, Cisco was named #1 in Fortune 100 best companies to work for.  

Here’s what some employees have to say about the company 

“Great place to work and the company is employee-friendly.”

“This company cares deeply for its employees”

“Good future, good environment, nice people”

“One of the best companies of my career”

At the center of this employee happiness and satisfaction is Cisco’s conscious culture that’s driven by 3 elements. The first is the environment. The company encourages a culture of dignity, respect, fairness, and equity, with an eye towards diversity and inclusion. The second element is characteristics that are deeply run by the company’s beliefs and principles. And lastly, the third element is experience - which is the experiences its employees have with the company, through management, their teams, and the work they do.

Cisco really sets a great example that goes beyond just compensation, designation, and growth. It shows that it's the little things that can truly make the biggest difference.

Happy employees = productive employees

It's clear that happy employees are indeed productive employees. When people feel valued, supported, and satisfied in their work environment, they naturally become more engaged and motivated. This leads to increased productivity, creativity, and overall job satisfaction. So, let's focus on creating a workplace where happiness and productivity go hand in hand!


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