State of Happiness 2019

Companies are more interested in happiness than ever before. We hope these results will give you a glimpse into what employees & leaders think, feel and value in the workplace.
State of Happiness 2019

Every year, we survey as many employees & leaders as possible in organisations in various industries to figure out what it means to be happy in the workplace. So far this year we’ve received a great response, which indicates that companies are more interested in happiness than ever before. We hope these results will give you a glimpse into what employees & leaders think, feel and value in the workplace.

At Hi5, whenever we ask managers which data they most want and need, they almost always say the same thing: they want to know what other companies are thinking and doing (and whether what they're doing is up to standard). To answer these questions, we're pleased to publish this set of data specific to the manager and employee experience — we hope you find it informative and insightful.


Before we dip into data, though, we’d like to acknowledge the people who helped put all of this together:

Linda Roos (Head of HR at ooba, Science of Happiness @ Work Licensed Practitioner), George Gabriel (Social Anthropologist, Engagement Facilitator & Founder of EMERGING), Bailey Kropman (Head of OD & Talent Management at Takealot.Group), Gary Willmott (Chief Appreciation Officer at Hi5), Sharné McDonald (People Data Expert at Hi5).


We’ve had 700+ submissions across various industries including Construction (373), Marketing & Advertising (173), Financial Services (77), Food Production (38), Hospitality (24), Events services (17), IT (16), etc.

We've received responses from great organisations like M&C Saatchi Abel, SNC-Lavalin, ooba homeloans, Vineyard Hotels, BrandTruth, University of the Free State, Multichoice, Sutherland Engineers & Active Value Advisors.

General Insights

These are our insights across all participating industries and companies:

Millennials feel they aren’t being heard.

Only 14% of the Millennial employees who took the survey are feeling heard. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, the results for this question revealed big age gaps— 29% of Generation Z (teen - 24 yrs old) and 23% Gen X (41 - 55 yrs old) say they feel listened to & valued at work.

However, there seems to be a common feeling between the very different Millennial and Baby Boomer generations in this regard.

“Whilst the results show that most respondents feel listened to and valued, this is not the case for everyone. Where there is not, for example, a receptive manager or an easily accessible platform to share concerns or ideas, other “always-on” listening and feedback mechanisms are needed.” — Linda

Smaller companies have better culture.

46% of the employees at Small companies (0-10) say they have an “Awesome” company culture, compared to 47% of employees at large enterprises (1001–2000) who rate their company culture as “Average”.

‍”The key to success with organisational values is to make sure that the words or phrases that are chosen are not simply a poster on the wall, and instead that everyone understands the behaviours that demonstrate those values. In addition, it is critical that those values are measured and tested from time-to-time.“ — George

Employees give recognition more frequently.

It’s very clear that Employees give more recognition than Managers. The most obvious result to point out, is that 30% of Employees give recognition at least once a week, compared to 15% of Managers.

“The most fundamental organising principle of the human brain is to minimise pain and maximise pleasure. We are wired to do more of the things that reward us and less of those that don’t. Receiving recognition for a job well done is not only a powerful motivator for the receiver, but also has positive psychological impact for the giver.“ — Linda‍

Culture is directly tied to recognition.

A great culture is tied to more frequent recognition. Companies that had a majority rating of an “Awesome” culture (26%) saw continuous recognition (at least once a week).

“As in a family, it is critically important to openly praise and recognise the kind of behaviour that underpins the culture. It is by far the easiest way to make sure that everyone understands what is expected of them. And in addition, the perfect opportunity to give credit for great teamwork and individual excellence.” — George

Want your company to participate in the research? Get your custom link to do the survey.

Download the full whitepaper for specific insights.

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