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What Makes Workers Happy, Creative, and Productive in 2015?


What makes workers happy, and why do so many of us decide to leave our jobs and start looking elsewhere for employment? There are so many factors that contribute to the overall picture of our job satisfaction, from work-life balance to potential opportunities for advancement. In an effort to understand what makes today’s worker tick, Staples surveyed thousands of managers and workers across the U.S. about current workplace trends and culture. The results of that report, the Staples Advantage Workplace Index, reveal a great deal about work-life balance, productivity, and so much more. Let’s take a look at the key findings.

happy at work

(Photo Credit: Mayselgrove/Flickr)

1. Burnout is as bad for productivity as illness.

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At first glance, a key takeaway of the report appears to be that workers are taking burnout in stride. While 53 percent of those surveyed said that they felt overloaded at work, 86 percent said they were satisfied with their jobs. 

When you dig a little deeper into the report, you begin to realize how severely burnout seems to be affecting workers, even if it’s only nudging their overall job satisfaction. For example, when asked what factors contribute to poor productivity, 69 percent of workers referenced burnout. The same percentage referenced illness as a major productivity killer. These two factors tied for the second greatest contributing factor (behind poorly performing technology) to poor productivity. For the record, too many meetings and office politics also made the list.

2. Unhappy workers want better managers and more flexibility at work.

When surveyed about how they would define good work culture, unhappy workers honed in on different attributes than happy ones did. Employees who felt happy with their jobs were nearly twice as likely to mention “shared goals and values” as an important feature than their unhappy counterparts. Those who were less than satisfied were much more likely to mention management and flexible scheduling as important aspects of a good workplace culture.

It’s not news that a lot of people dislike their jobs, and even decide to leave, because of the boss. This survey reaffirms that issue. It also gives a nod toward a relatively new worker request – flexibility. With more and more folks enjoying nontraditional workplace arrangements, it seems that workers in 2015 are impacted by the degree of flexibility offered by their employers in new ways.

3. Younger workers are much more likely to feel creative and innovative in a different kind of workspace.

Baby boomers report feeling more creative and innovative in a traditional workspace than in one that is more open and nontraditional. In fact, they preferred it by a long shot – 71 percent said that they felt more creative in a closed space such as discrete offices. However, Gen Y workers were pretty much split right down the middle. About 51 percent still felt more creative and innovative in a traditional workspace, but 49 percent preferred working in open plan offices.

The results of this study shed some light on a few interesting factors impacting workers’ happiness, productivity, and creativity in 2015. Guarding against burnout is a good idea – even if we’ve gotten used to it and it no longer makes us want to leave our jobs, it impacts productivity as much as illness.

For more information, be sure to check out the full report.

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What most impacts your ability to be happy, creative, and productive? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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