How We Measure Work Happiness 

Recently, someone from the small but perfectly shaped nation of Iceland asked me the following question: “When watching your InfoQ talk on portfolio Kanban I noticed that you talked about measuring autonomy, mastery, and purpose as they are defined by Daniel Pink.


I have been searching the web for a tool, a questionnaire or survey, that could help me measure those without success for a while and am therefore interested if you could share with me how you do it. Is that something you could do?”


I am of course happy to share!


David Mole and I have created the “HIP survey”.  The “HIP survey” is our take on how to gain information on how healthy our work environment is and how we’re doing in creating a place that fosters Happiness, Innovation and Productivity.


Here’s some background so you know what we’re trying to do:


Did you know that …



Well, that’s why we took the 6 most important motivational factors and designed questions around finding out how we’re doing in creating a good working environment.



We use survey monkey to run the survey every month and collect trends over time.




These are the questions we ask:


To what degree do you feel you …


1… are doing meaningful work that comes to fruition on our site/apps?
2… are allowed to do what’s best for your work by focusing on one thing at a time?
3…  have direct influence on how we work and solve problems?
4…  work in a group/squad where people support and challenge each other?
5… have been able to learn new skills at work?
6… can be creative at work through success and failure?

7… Is there anything specific that has affected your scores?


(Scale 1-5, 5 is the highest)


Which squad(s) are you part of?
[List squads and have None/NA option] 




We ask everyone to fill in the survey, not just people in tech: People who are in a squad, work with a squad or you have enough to comment about our company.


We also have the same survey for everyone: We’re all in this together, we all want the same things and we’re all motivated by the same ideas so really there’s no point in making a difference.




Our biggest challenge is to keep people participating every single month. We thought about prizes or a draw but realised that would be contrary to what we know motivates people. We now try to make the monthly reminder email as funny, informative and interesting as we can.


It’s far from being perfect, but it works for us.


If you have any thoughts or would like to share how you measure happiness at work I’d love to hear from you.


Sandy Mamoli
  • Bruce Lawrence

    Hi Sandy
    Nice post :). It’s good to see practical ways folk are approaching this sort of thing.

    In my last role I stole’n’tweaked a ‘Happiness Bucket’ approach for our team. The (very simple) idea came from Will McInnes’ book ‘Culture Shock’. (I recommend it if you haven’t already read it).

    You simply have two buckets by the door and a pile of tennis balls. One bucket was green, with smiley faces on it and one was blue with unhappy faces on it. At the end of each day everyone puts a ball in the bucket that most reflects their day. I would tot up the numbers in the buckets the next morning and keep track of trends, peaks and troughs. We’d talk about the results at a fortnightly round-up meeting.

    It was useful for a while as a talking point and some of the trending, peaks and troughs were useful; but the novelty wore off for some after a few months. We’d also occasionally get some ‘sabotage’ whereby someone who would have had a particularly bad day and tipped all the balls in the unhappy bucket!

    Anyway, was a useful experiment for a while.



    March 30, 2015 at 10:59 am

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