Andy Kelk

Measuring happiness

As sometimes happens, I wanted to answer a question on Twitter but couldn’t do it justice in 140 characters. The question was this:

On an individual level, how do you keep track of happiness? You ask, you listen, you observe and you discuss. There’s no substitute for being in touch with the people who work with you, for spending time with them and for listening to what they have to say (and really listening, not drifting away with your thoughts).

If you are responsible for a small number of people, then do this – tune into what your people are saying (or not saying) and act. If, however, you’re responsible for more people (directly or indirectly) then you may want some kind of metric or indicator of where you need to focus your time. There are a number of different tools out there for gathering information about how people (or teams of people) are doing. I’ll preface this with a disclaimer: “all models are wrong, but some are useful” (George E. P. Box).


NPS is a widely used technique for measuring customer satisfaction with a single question (although it does have its detractors).

Using the same technique for employees essentially involves asking “On as scale of zero to ten, how likely is it you would recommend this company as a place to work?”

Read more here:

Happiness Index

The Happiness Index is a daily temperature check for a team where everyone quickly plots how they’re feeling. This is done at the same time every day when the team is together.

By doing it daily, you can quickly catch instances where people are feeling down and sit down with them to try and help them resolve any issues.

Read more:

Delivering Happiness

Delivering Happiness offer a 10 minute survey to track employee happiness. It’s somewhere between a daily pulse check such as the Happiness Index and a full-blown annual employee engagement survey. A team can use each individual’s results to generate further discussion as described here:

Happy Meter

This is another short survey which everyone can answer quickly. It measures satisfaction across three dimensions: your role, the company overall and outside of work. In addition, the survey also adds free text questions for what to start, stop and continue. Read more:

Squad Health Check

The squad health check used at Spotify covers more ground than just happiness – it is a tool for teams to assess themselves against a number of dimensions which could impact their productivity. Being part of a high-performing team is usually something that makes people happy so if your teams are scoring green on the health check, there’s a good chance you’re doing OK for happiness. Read more:

Westrum Model

The Westrum typology of organisational cultures is also more than just a happiness index. It is a way to place the organisation into one of three categories: pathological (power-oriented), bureaucratic (rule-oriented) and generative (performance-oriented). As with the squad health check, if you are creating a generative culture, there is a high chance of happiness. Read more:

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