Facilitating the Spread of Knowledge and Innovation in Professional Software Development

Write for InfoQ


Choose your language

InfoQ Homepage News Scaling The Happiness Index

Scaling The Happiness Index

Lire ce contenu en français

Frank Schlesinger, senior scrum master at Immobilien Scout GmbH, has implemented the happiness index within his organization and shared his experience in his recent blog on scaling the happiness index.

He mentioned how happiness index could be scaled out from team level to organization level.

The Happiness Index was originally used on a team level to visualize a team’s mood over time and to help teams and management to improve their happiness. We wanted to use it for all our IT product development teams.

Schlesinger discussed the happiness index implementation and how they rolled it out for all the teams. He used the same happiness index mentioned by Jeff Sutherland and originally used by Henrik Kniberg at Crisp.

The happiness index originally asks the following questions:

  • What’s your name?
  • How happy are you? (on a scale from 1 “very unhappy” to 5 “very happy”)
  • What makes you feel best right now?
  • What makes you feel worst right now?
  • What would increase your happiness?

Schlesinger ran the happiness index exercise at the company level. For this he made some changes to the original format. First of all he made happiness index anonymous, and then modified some questions.

One other thing that we wanted to have differently than the original Happiness Index was the general happiness question “How happy are you?” This was too general for us as we wanted to learn about things that we might be able to influence. We made two distinct questions out of it.

  1. How happy are you in your team?
  2. How happy are you with the company?

Schlesinger made this survey available on Google Drive and got inputs from all the teams every 2 weeks. He used that data to plot a graph which shows the improvement in happiness index. The first question gives direct feedback about the quality of work of team leads or scrum masters. The second question intends to get feedback about the organizational culture.

Schlesinger does this survey on quarterly basis and shares the results in a happiness review meeting with management and all employees. He shared his thoughts how he succeed in creating a team focused agile culture in the organization.

We always had the feeling to work in an open, friendly and collaborative company culture which is making us happy and it was no surprise to us that this shared gut feeling is reflected in the data too…. We interpret this to be an expression of the very team focused Agile working culture that we have established in IT product development. You identify with your team first and then with the company.

Schlesinger used it to get the happiness scale of IT people, sales people and found it, a good way to communicate to higher management about team happiness which contributes to company happiness. He created the domains of happiness per department.

Since a couple of month we also have our colleges from the Sales Department on board. This enables us to recognize what happiness sources we share between IT and Sales employees and where the needs and perceptions differ between people of departments so different.

Corinna Baldauf, Technical Product Management Lead at Experian Marketing Services UK, included employee happiness as one of the metrics to be included while transitioning to agile. She mentioned to measure employee happiness in her blog on Metrics I can believe in.

Employee Happiness – It seems to be a leading indicator for many things, such as employee turnover (Duh!) but also revenue. You can measure e.g. with a tool like Happiness Metric.

Stowe Boyd, lead researcher at GigaOM mentioned TINYPulse in his blog. TINYPulse is an anonymous feedback tool, developed by the company TINYhr. This tool collates the results from anonymous surveys and shows how happy people are at work. TINYPulse also asks users for kudos: who has recently helped them or raised their spirits. These can be anonymous or acknowledged.

With amazingly lightweight tools like these there is simply no reason not to move to a measured understanding of what the mood of the company is and to share that.

Rate this Article