How do we elevate human happiness?

Today, many future thinkers are focused on this question with a societal lens. But what about happiness in the world of work? After all, we spend one-third of our lives at our jobs, so how we feel there can have a major impact on our sense of well-being. And in this current climate of uncertainty, psychological safety, resilience and empathy are needed more than ever. Yes, the usual categories like pay, work-life balance and flexibility all contribute to our well-being, but do they really capture everything we mean when we think about what really drives happiness and engagement across companies? 

Here at Indeed we asked ourselves a question: What if we started going beyond the traditional reviews and ratings to capture the other factors that add up to a sense of workplace well-being? What if we started to ask people about how they feel and not just about the workplace tangibles such as compensation and benefits? The results could change how people choose jobs and how employers build workplace cultures — increasing everyone’s ability to thrive in the workplace. And so we did just that. 

Working with experts on happiness from the UN, Oxford University and the University of California, we have rethought how Indeed captures and displays information on our Company Pages. Indeed now houses the world’s largest work happiness study1 with 5.5 million happiness surveys completed2 and counting, and we are only just getting started. 

Today, we launched the Indeed Work Happiness Score in Canada. This will make it easier for job seekers to find work environments where they will be happiest — and will give employers insights into what their employees’ key drivers of happiness are so they can improve their employee experience and create happier organizations. Let’s take a closer look.

97% of people believe happiness at work is possible3


First, a simple question: Why happiness? 

“Happiness matters,” says Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, Vice Chair of Psychology at University of California, Riverside, and a world expert on happiness (and one of the experts helping us with this project). “My research has shown that happiness is a cause of success: happier people receive more positive reviews at work, are more productive and more creative, earn higher incomes, and are less likely to burn out or be absent from work. Happier people are also more likely to get jobs and to keep jobs.”

Simple, yes? But here’s the thing: many of us are not as happy as we could be. Indeed data shows that in 2021 only 48%2 of Canadian job seekers agreed with the statement, “I feel happy at work, most of the time” in the context of their workplace. Further research shows that a lack of happiness is a leading reason people consider leaving a job. In fact, one in five respondents answered “not being happy at work most of the time” as one of the primary reasons they would consider new opportunities. The great news? 97% of people believe that happiness at work is possible.3

But if most people believe they can be happy and the benefits are clear, then there is a challenge, too: that not everybody knows what makes them happy. Our research also indicates that many people think that salary, flexibility and location are the things that make them happiest. However, it’s the more intangible elements of work — such as a sense of feeling energized, belonging, trust, and purpose that may be the most important drivers of happiness at work. 

“Being energized” is an especially important factor when we consider what drives happiness at work. Meanwhile, this feeling does not come from “traditional” review measures such as work-life balance or pay, but rather as a result of feeling challenged at work (39%); when they are inspired to do their best (40%); or looking forward to their work environment (33%). 

And with 91% saying that their happiness at work affects their mood at home, we have a lot of work to do when it comes to understanding workplace happiness. 

This is where the Indeed Work Happiness Score comes in.

How we’re going to do it

So how are we going to do it? 

The Work Happiness Score is based on responses to a simple question, “I feel happy at work most of the time,” which is ranked on a scale of one to five. In addition to asking people to give their employers an overall Work Happiness Score on our Company Pages, we are also gathering insights around the key drivers of happiness to help understand why they feel that way. These were identified in collaboration with Dr. Lyubomirsky and Dr. Jan-Emmanuel de Neve, Professor of Economics and Director, Wellbeing Research Centre, University of Oxford — as well as other expert advisors. The drivers are:

  1. Belonging
  2. Energy
  3. Appreciation
  4. Purpose
  5. Achievement
  6. Compensation
  7. Support
  8. Learning
  9. Inclusion
  10. Flexibility
  11. Trust
  12. Management
  13. Stress Level
  14. Satisfaction

The Work Happiness Score has the scale and depth to help us learn more about what companies are getting right when it comes to workplace happiness and also about those areas that aren’t going so well. And by providing a full picture of how happy people are working at a company, and the factors that are driving it, both job seekers and employers will be armed with the knowledge that can be used to take steps to start moving toward happier work.

As Dr. De Neve puts it, “Besides this being one of the largest studies ever, the potential of the Indeed data to advance the research frontier on employee wellbeing is unmatched in the market today.” 

“It is unprecedented in scale and is an important contribution in advancing our collective understanding of workplace happiness. The richness of the data and the findings will help people everywhere compare companies to each other and understand what is truly driving happiness at work. I believe this project will ultimately help more people find a job that is better for them and hopefully start to increase work happiness everywhere.”

Check out our site for more information about this project. And more is to come: stay tuned for more throughout 2021 as we continue to ask the big questions around workplace happiness and what it means for us all. It’s time to get serious about happiness. 

Want to learn more about the Indeed Work Happiness Score? Dig deeper for more on happiness at work here.


1 2021 Indeed Data based on the number of survey responses globally.

2 Indeed Data

3CA: Indeed Workplace Happiness Report, a commissioned study (n=1,532 CA adults) conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Indeed, 2021.