Is the annual happiness survey from the ONS really more meaningful than economic measures when it comes to looking at whether our wellbeing is improving?
There were plenty of cynics out there when the Government launched the Annual Survey of Wellbeing in 2010 and plenty still remain.
Nonetheless, one thing you can’t argue about is that the survey, which is now in its second year, provides some intriguing insight about the things which make us happy.
The research also provides useful insight for anyone whose job it is to ensure their organisation can attract and retain the right employees.
For instance, the findings that those who work flexibly or study part-time have the greatest sense of wellbeing should spur any organisations to think about how training, education and a creative approach to working hours can be used as employee benefits.
The negative impact that illness and disability has on wellbeing is a call to action for all employers to take these issues seriously in the support they offer their employees. Not just through reactive measures like employee helplines and health insurance but by proactive wellbeing programmes – whether these relate to financial or physical wellbeing.
More broadly, the focus on wellbeing is a reminder that happiness makes a great difference to the way people approach their lives. This applies to the workplace as much as anywhere else.
Through its ongoing employee research, the iOpener Institute for People and Performance is one organisation that has long made the link between happiness and effectiveness at work. The ONS reinforces this point: although not having a paid job may make us miserable, having one where you are not content is equally negative.
Not all of the insight is new but if it helps employers look at their organisations as being in the business of well-being, then I am sure that gains in engagement, performance and employee retention will follow – and for most organisations those outcomes would be hugely positive.
Andy Philpott is sales and marketing director at Edenred - you can access more insight on benefits and reward at our knowledge hub - www.edenred.co.uk/ehub/