Who is Responsible for Employee Happiness?

Picture this:  the CEO just heard from someone that employees are unhappy, and morale is down.  They reach out to the HR department and ask us what we are going to do about it. 

Often times, when there is a perceived ‘’people” issue, it becomes a problem for the Human Resources team to solve.  Interestingly though, when there is a drop in revenue, the business doesn’t expect the Finance department to resolve it.  Finance advises on what the numbers may be saying so the leadership can identify root causes and take steps to address why losses are happening.  

The same should be true of HR.  HR is here to help the leaders understand what the apparent employee morale issue actually is and where it might be stemming from.  By using information and data, not hearsay and anecdotes, we can help them deal with the concerns. 

So, what can HR do? 

  1. Clarify what is meant by employee ‘’happiness’’ or low ‘’morale’’ by separating employee engagement and job satisfaction.  Engaged employees feel connected to the company.  They are dedicated to helping the business succeed.  They may not be jazzed everyday about what they do, but they want to be there.  Job satisfaction is liking the tasks they perform, enjoying what they do, but thinking that they could get that same intrinsic feeling working somewhere else.
  2. Gather data.  We have access to loads of information.  Exit interviews, employee surveys, 3600 feedback, new hire experiences, market data, competitive analysis, recruitment, and turnover stats, etc.  Start with what we know to be true before making assumptions.  This will ensure that a proper fact-finding step happens before anyone jumps to conclusions.   
  3. Resist the urge to fix things yourself.  You are at your best when you can guide the leaders through the process of identifying issues, and/or verifying if there was an issue to begin with.  Help them to Respond versus React.  Provide insight, expertise, recommendations, tools, and coaching so they are directly connected to addressing concerns and implementing impactful solutions. 


These approaches can move HR from the 

Purveyor of Happiness to the Facilitator of Employee Engagement & Satisfaction