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A survey for office supplies group Viking

A survey for office supplies group Viking found that the price of a happy worker is just £476 a year as long as employers spend it the right way. Small companies can boost their workforce’s morale by investing that amount per staff member in a combination of social events such as trips to the pub and training courses, according to the new research.

More than four out of 10 employees working in businesses with fewer than 50 staff said they were unhappy at work. But managers could raise happiness levels by 35% if they spent £286 on training and £190 on staff outings.

The figure was derived by asking workers what the biggest factors of being happy, or unhappy, were during their working day. These were then put against the three most consistently reported drivers – training, social outings and salary – to discover the ‘price of happiness’.

The data revealed that with targeted spending of just £476, moral could be improved by more than third, while a pay rise of £5,000 yielded only a 3% increase.

The most common causes given as making workers unhappy were stress, not feeling challenged by their roles and poor internal communication about the company’s goals and aims. Another area that could boost levels of employee engagement was utilising unproductive times efficiently. The research found that from 10am until noon on Tuesdays staff were operating at their peak performance, while from 4pm until 6pm on Mondays and Fridays they were at their worst. It suggested using these periods for updates on the bigger picture for the company.