When It Comes to Employee Happiness, Work/Life Balance Offers Best ROI

When it comes to employee happiness, the biggest obstacle may be work/life balance, according to the Happiness Index 2016, a new report from employee intelligence platform Butterfly.

The index is the result of a year-long study that explored the employee happiness and engagement trends of more than 5,000 employees in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In particular, Butterfly looked at how the following five factors influenced employees happiness on a week-by-week basis:

Roles and responsibilities


Team's work/colleagues


Work/life balance

Butterfly found that work/life balance ratings were consistently lowest across all factors, whereas team's work/colleagues and management were the factors with which employees were most satisfied.

Managers have some work to do when it comes to improving employee happiness – especially when it comes to work/life balance – but according to Butterfly cofounder David Mendlewicz, that shouldn't be too daunting of a task.

"Fortunately, the internet and technological advancements have democratized executive leadership coaching, bringing forth unlimited resources for young managers to proactively educate themselves and stay connected with their teams," Mendlewicz says. "With more data at their disposal than ever before, today's managers have the ability to take action and develop teams like never before."

When It Comes to Employee Happiness, Investing in Work/Life Balance Gives the Best ROI

"One of the most difficult responsibilities of any manager is managing someone else's time in addition to their own," Mendlewicz says. "Nobody is omniscient and able to automatically recognize when teams are beginning to feel overworked, so it's on managers to create open and frequent communications channels for gathering this type of feedback."

Of course, data collection is only the first step. Managers must actually do something with the data if they are to make an impact on employee happiness.

"Show teams you are listening and willing to change conditions, processes, systems – whatever it is – to help improve workload when and where these changes are appropriate," Mendlewicz says.

Butterfly's findings reveal actionable takeaways for managers and talent teams. A very strong correlation exists between work/life balance and overall employee happiness. Managers and HR teams should be cognizant of workloads and how team members collectively feel about the balances of their careers and home lives. Investing time and resources into improving work/life balance will make a bigger impact on overall satisfaction than improving relationships between colleagues or improving the office environment will. It is the most efficient way to increase overall employee happiness.

Track Employee Happiness Data at Granular Levels

"Capturing team feedback is only as good as your ability to distill what you are hearing and turn those insights into action," Mendlewicz says.

While many managers rely on weekly meetings to give employees a feedback platform, these settings are easily dominated by just a few strong personalities, meaning not every employee will get a chance to voice their opinion. The other problem is that employees may see these meetings as wastes of time and not take them seriously as feedback forums.

The better alternative would be to invest a tech tool that makes it easier to capture feedback from all employees at granular levels. Managers and HR teams able to track team happiness on a weekly basis will be better equipped to address fluctuations in job satisfaction as they happen. Establishing manageable workloads and open feedback forums remains the most effective way to improve employee engagement and happiness. That way, team members know their employer prioritizes a healthy balance of career and lifestyle.

"Good leaders know how to instill a culture of feedback and listening into the fiber of the team," Mendlewicz says. "Great leaders know how to take what they hear and – when it makes sense – use those insights to affect positive change."