It takes a lot to make employees happy these days.
Although compensation is the biggest factor in determining most Americans' job happiness, it's not the only thing they care about. According to a new study from staffing firm Spherion, U.S. workers value interest in their position and job security almost as much as money. In addition, a positive company culture and work environment, and the ability to work with people they like are other critical elements of job happiness.
The research revealed that many of the factors that employers think are important parts of job happiness aren't as significant to employees. Just 7 percent of workers said workplace flexibility is an important factor in job happiness, and only 5 percent said career advancement opportunities make them happy.
In addition, many workers would make a number of sacrifices when accepting a new job for the sake of being happier in their careers, the study also found. More than three-quarters of those surveyed would be willing to work in a less-private office space, and 60 percent would accept a lower position or title, to improve their job happiness. [The 10 Happiest (and Unhappiest) Jobs in America ]
Additionally, 60 percent said they would reduce their workplace flexibility, and 41 percent would give up benefits, such as vacation time and 401(k) contributions.
Experts say there are some small changes employers can make to the workplace environment in order to boost employee happiness. The study showed that 30 percent of workers think the availability of food throughout the day contributes to their workplace happiness, while 29 percent think a lounge where they can get away or have time to themselves would make their job more pleasing.
"Employers have a unique opportunity to capitalize on these findings and offer small, but meaningful, opportunities that can help workers be happy in their current roles," Sandy Mazur, division president of franchise and license operations at Spherion, said in a statement. "And that can pay big dividends for the employee and the employer."
The research also found that happiness at work can be contagious. Sixty percent of employees said they are happier when they see others happy at work.
The vast majority of those surveyed said they would be happier at an established company than at a startup, and that they'd rather be in a collaborative environment than in a competitive one.
The study was based on surveys of 882 full-time or part-time U.S. employees.
Originally published on Business News Daily