International week of happiness at work - 21st-27th September 2020 Learn more ›
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For anything you'd like to know about Happiness Lab.

Frequently asked questions

Happiness is used in a host of different ways. It can be used to describe our mental or emotional state, pleasant feelings or positive emotions. It's also used in the context of life satisfaction, subjective well-being, life meaning (as in eudaemonic happiness) or pleasure (hedonic happiness).

If we had to provide a single definition for happiness, it would be this one.

"Happiness is the combination of our satisfaction with our lives overall and the balance of positive or negative emotions we experience on a day-to-day basis"

This definition is one derived from leading happiness researchers Ed Diener and Sonia Lyubomirsky.

We like it because it reflects something we can all recognise... that the way we feel is influenced by many things, often by the things happening around us right now - what we're doing, who we're with - and also by aspects of our lives outside this very moment - matters of family, health, finances and so on.

Despite our name, what we're interested in would be better described as "how people feel".

How we feel is a powerful indicator of performance, behaviour, and wellbeing. You'll notice
that in our daily check-in routine, we never ask how happy you are... just "how do you feel?"

The way we feel, the way we respond to our environment, is highly personal and subjective - what makes one person feel good can go unnoticed by someone else, the same is true of negative feelings or stress response.

Much of how we feel is dictated by biological and chemical responses to stimuli, the triggers for and duration of our individual responses are reflective of our genes, our previous life experiences and our current context.

The more we can understand about ourselves and each-other the better. That's how 'tuning-in' to what's going on for us on a day-to-day basis can help us to recognise and regulate our responses, as well as use the insights collectively to bring out the best in everyone.

We tend to refer to what we're doing as "tracking" happiness rather than measuring it. It's a relative thing rather than an absolute one and while we have methods to normalise data (such as Personal Range) what's most interesting and revealing as a result of this approach is the variation, the trends and patterns that emerge in individuals and groups.

The way we all use happiness in our day-to-day language also demonstrates that we have an innate happiness scale, we use the same principle in Happiness Lab.

  • When people describe themselves as 'really happy' we intuitively understand and rather than question the definition, we're more likely to enquire about what's the cause of the good feelings.
  • The same is true of the opposite. Someone telling you that they're unhappy naturally provokes further investigation and also triggers our caring nature when it's someone we're connected to.
  • We don't even need to use the word 'happy' either... the way we're feeling can take many forms, all of which can be comfortably reflected in a linear scale of 0 (feeling terrible) to 100 (feeling incredible).

At the bottom end of our scale/range we see signs of people suffering from stress, early indications that people are struggling or at risk. That provides an opportunity for someone to help.

It's all about nuance.

When we tested a 0-10 scale in an early version of Happiness Lab we got lots of 7s. When we switched to 0-100 we found that those 7s didn't translate to 70s but a more nuanced and varied response.

The wider range offers wider options and seems to encourage deeper consideration for most people.

You'll also notice that the slider always starts at 50 encouraging deliberate action towards either higher or lower scores.

Our chosen palette reflects a mood based range of colours.

The lower numbers attracting purple and blues, the middle of the range shows greens, and the higher end of the range moves through yellow to warm orange.

We are also trying to avoid any association with right or wrong, typically displayed as red, amber, green in most work settings.

A daily check-in is the most effective way to understand day-to-day experiences, how people are doing, and what's happening in individual and collective terms. It also reduces reliance on our memories or reflections. Reflecting on experiences triggers a different part of the brain than actually experienced it giving us a distorted view from the outset.

Another, arguably more important reason, is that unlike normal surveys that focus on feedback about things or aspects of work, we're really interested in how people are doing... how they're getting on... how they're feeling - this requires a high frequency approach to be able to spot the changes and variation of significance.

Checking-in with ourselves and our colleagues with regularity has a positive effect on us individually (noticing things) and builds team trust and connection.

Put simply, as often as you can.

Like many things in life, the more you put in, the more you're likely to get out. If nothing else, think of it as your contribution to helping your colleagues and your company to make work as good as it can be for everyone.

It can be easy to report only highs and lows but there's value in sharing 'normal' days too...

The value or benefit to us as individuals is tied up in the benefits with noticing what's going on around us and with us... in doing so we'll most likely come to the realisation that our days are more often than not stable and OK - it offers our brain the chance to consider things other than existential threats.

Normal days also set the good and bad ones in context. We're more likely to appreciate the good days and perhaps the relative infrequent nature of bad days given a routine of noticing how our days are.

There's another important benefit too, and that's to the collective or the group we belong to...

You're more likely to spot a colleague in need of support by participating frequently. A rich, balanced set of experiences shared among colleagues is a great stabiliser in its own right, providing comfort, consistency and connection between team-mates.

Yes. And yes.

Everything you share on Happiness Lab is anonymous and visible only in aggregate amongst your colleagues. When it comes to the Happiness Wall, your ratings and comments will appear individually but only in a group context, so as long as you don't identify yourself within your comments then it's anonymous.

Anonymity is a really important enabler for honesty and safety. We'll protect and respect your privacy and anonymity, you should do the same for your colleagues.

In aggregate terms you'll see how your colleagues share in both happiness data and their responses to pulse surveys. This information is available in our dashboards.

You'll also see what your colleagues chose to share on the Happiness Wall although in neither instance will you be able to identify the individual from the data.

Given it only takes a matter of seconds each day to share what's going on for you, time isn't the issue... but if it's a matter of prioritising your efforts, check with your line manager. We hope they'll say, "share what you can as often as you can."

If you have a question which hasn't been answered above, please email us at info@happinesslab.com and we'll be happy to help.