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Employee Happiness Index: Workforce Unsatisfied

Are employees happy? According to BambooHR®’s new Employee Happiness Index, a quarterly benchmark report that analyzes eNPS or employee satisfaction results from 57,000-plus global workers, not really. Since 2020, eNPS scores have declined steadily. In fact, since June 2020, the average eNPS has decreased by 16%. When looking at just the last year, overall eNPS fell 11% from June 2022 to June 2023, deteriorating at a rate nearly 15 times faster than the previous two years combined—showing employee happiness is worse now than during COVID.

The report also measures how employee satisfaction changes month over month. While 2020’s dramatic swings were an outlier, the continuing downward trend of employee dissatisfaction has seen less and less volatility over time.

“The new norm of ‘unprecedented times’ is causing enormous stress,” said Brad Rencher, BambooHR’s CEO. “To succeed in a rapidly evolving world, businesses will need to prioritize employee experience in real, meaningful ways like never before. Anything less than a holistic approach to developing the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of each employee, in addition to their skills, will fall short.”

The Happiest and Unhappiest Workers 

The unhappiest industries are two of society’s most critical and most impacted by the pandemic: healthcare and education. Healthcare employee happiness has dropped 32% in the last three years (June 2020 to June 2023), but half of that drop occurred in just 2023 (a 16% decrease from June 2022 to June 2023.) From June 2022 to June 2023, education’s happiness fell 5%, two times faster than the previous two years.

Both nonprofit and travel and hospitality happiness are slightly increasing this year as they continue to rebound from the pandemic, despite still ranking low on happiness overall. Restaurant, food, and beverage’s average eNPS has fallen 31% since June 2020, with little signs of recovery, having dropped 8% alone since June of last year.

Tech sector eNPS scores have dropped off a cliff, declining about three-and-one-half times faster than previous years, and average tech employee happiness scores have declined 14% from June of last year to June of 2023. With a less dramatic decline but higher volatility, finance’s eroding happiness is tied to similar factors as tech: shrinking VC capital, bank closures, massive layoffs, and return-to-office mandates.

The happiest industry is construction, as deep backlogs of work and high residential demand have created coveted job stability and increased wages. The construction industry’s average eNPS of 49 for 2023 has remained steady.

As multiple studies have shown, revenue and employee engagement are inextricably linked, with disengaged employees costing the global economy upwards of $8.8 trillion by Gallup, meaning gloomy employees could have stormy economic repercussions.

“HR is often viewed solely as a tactical administrative function without any meaningful metrics,” Anita Grantham, head of HR, explained. “However, any leadership team that is only tracking sales and marketing performance is being irresponsible and overlooking their largest cost center: their people. eNPS is one of many tools businesses need to track their organization’s health and catch problems quickly and thoughtfully. When margins shrink, it’s easy to get reactionary, but playing the long game and taking care of your employees is always good business.”

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