Survey: 88% of American workers are happy in their jobs

What really makes employees happy – and how can you tell if they are?

Wrike, the collaborative work management platform, released the first findings from the company’s inaugural Happiness Index, carried out by Atomik Research. The survey asked what made workers happy in the U.S., Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, with at least 1,000 respondents in each country.

While Americans were found to be generally happy in their jobs – a full 88% – Millennials were the least happy group, with 17% responding to be “mostly unhappy” or “miserable.”

Positive relationships with managers are critical to happiness. Employees with negative relationships with their managers were more likely to report unhappiness.

Having a connection to their company’s mission is also a key to happiness – 70% of happy workers feel a “strong” connection, while 32% of less happy workers don’t know what their company’s mission is, or feel any connection to it.

Happiness can influence perception. Cheerful employees are 55% more likely to say their workplace is above average in diversity, but 440% of unhappy workers are more likely to say that their jobs are below average in diversity.

You can spot the happy vs. the disconnected workers by observing office social gatherings: Happier employees are 70% more likely to take at least a half-hour lunch break or eat lunch with friends, while less happy workers are 57% more likely to spend their lunch breaks on social media. Unhappy workers are less likely to take part in organized gatherings outside work (15%, compared to over 40% for happier workers).

“Fostering workplace happiness and understanding what really drives employee engagement is evolving – it’s not just about paying the highest salary and providing lunch,” says Wrike Vice President of People Operations Megan Barbier in a release. “In today’s competitive talent market, it is important that companies consider emerging factors, like diversity and technology, that are playing an increasingly important role in employee happiness.

Relatedly, Harvard Business School recently published a story that perks (flexible time, anything contributing to work-life balance) and recognition (like peer-to-peer recognition programs) can be more meaningful long-term than financial rewards.