I started Monday morning by going to fill my water bottle in the break room. Someone had placed a Post-it note on the water cooler that read: “You matter!” I’d never seen anything quite like it at the office. I couldn’t help but smile. Someone had brightened my day near the finance department where I sit, and I didn’t even know who to thank for this inspirational message of happiness at work.

When was the last time you made an effort to improve the workplace happiness of your finance team? Happy employees are good for business. They are more engaged, loyal and productive.

Report shows finance professionals could be happier

It’s an area finance managers shouldn’t neglect. In fact, they have room for improvement, according to a new Robert Half report, IT'S TIME WE ALL WORK HAPPY.® Accounting, financial services and finance professionals scored fairly low in their levels of happiness at work, compared with employees in other fields.

Happiness comes from more than providing a foosball table in the lobby, collaborating with a colleague on a successful project or doling out bonuses. And you don’t have to break the bank to make it happen.

Find out more about how to build a happier workforce, one job at a time.

Here are five of my favorite tips finance managers can use to improve happiness at work and make their teams feel appreciated:

1. Put it in writing

A handwritten thank-you to your direct reports, colleagues or boss can be more meaningful than an email. Such an effort requires some stationery, a little extra time to craft and deliver, but is often appreciated by the recipient. Employers need to promote a positive culture that includes recognition and feeling appreciated to attract and retain great people.

“Fostering positive emotions through gratitude is easy and powerful,” says Dr. Christine Carter, author and senior fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. “The science on this is blazingly clear. There are loads of research studies that show how much higher functioning people are when they feel appreciated by their teams and their manager.”

Takeaway: Feeling appreciated is the biggest driver of happiness in the workplace for accounting professionals, according to the report.

2. Conduct a teambuilding event

It could be a friendly Academy Awards or March Madness competition, an off-site volunteer event, or ropes course. Such activities can help staff learn more about their coworkers and boost morale in the workplace. Make sure it’s presented as optional or that there’s something for everyone; not everyone may be a movie buff or sports fan.

Takeaway: Workers who have a sense of camaraderie at work are 2.5 times more likely to be happy on the job than those who do not get along well with colleagues.

Learn more about the anatomy of a happy employee in the infographic, below.

3. Have a party

Celebrating coworkers’ milestones – such as birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers or good work – can build comradery and bring employees together, especially if it’s for a good cause. Be clear that contributions are voluntary, and remember that happiness comes from more than just a free lunch or annual holiday party. If people don’t feel valued by your firm, these perks won’t make much of a difference.

“The key for managers is to express gratitude and to be really specific about the particular effort the employee made,” Carter says, “because that’s when people feel seen and recognized.”

Takeaway: Eighty-nine percent of managers in another Robert Half survey said their organization is good at showing appreciation to employees, while 30 percent of employees gave their firm low marks for it.

4. Ask for inspiration

There’s no secret ingredient to increasing happiness levels in the office. What works for a small CPA firm might not fly at a larger organization. Sure, you have to pay people well, but creating a great place to work where employees have pride in what they do begins with you.

Unless you’re a mind reader, you’ll never know what instills pride and motivation in your employees, until you ask. Then, follow through. Follow-up on that feedback and empower your employees to create a better workplace.

Takeaway: Salary benchmarks for finance and accounting positions in your city are available at Robert Half's Salary Center.

5. Give them a sense of empowerment

Engaging your staff by giving them a chance to make decisions on their own, or with minimal direction, improves workplace happiness by making them feel more valued. Let them flex their creative muscles and influence important decisions in their jobs.
Takeaway: Only 47 percent of women in the happiness research say they exert influence on the job, compared to 55 percent of men who say the same. At large companies, 35 percent of workers say they have influence.

As Todd Henry, founder of Accidental Creative and contributor to the Robert Half report, says, “People are most invested in their work when they feel like they are part of something larger than themselves.”

Most studies show that happiness positively impacts the quality and quantity of work — and when you make employee happiness one of your top organizational priorities, it’s good for your business.

If you’re still not sure where to start to give your finance team a happiness boost, try a Post-it note, and be happy!

— Lisa Amstutz

Read the infographic text.


Which employees are the happiest?

The happiest role: SENIOR EXECUTIVE
The happiest company size: LESS THAN 10 EMPLOYEES
The happiest age: 55+
The happiest tenure: FIRST YEAR ON THE JOB


The ability to influence important decisions is a happiness driver, but not all workers feel they have equal say.

Only 47% of women say they exert influence on the job, compared to 55% of men.

Just 45% of administrative workers feel they have a say in important decisions.

Only 47% of workers 55 years and up say they influence important decisions.

Only 35% of workers at organizations with 5,000+ employees say they have influence.

Where can companies improve?


Workers who say they are not a good match with their employees are the most likely to leave their job within a year.


Only 52 percent of women feel they are paid fairly at work, compared to 58 percent of men.


Two-thirds of workers feel satisfied with their level of work-life balance, leaving some room for improvement.


Workers who have good relationships with others on their teams are 2.5 times more likely to be happy than those who do not.


Feeling appreciated is the second biggest driver of happiness — make sure to thank all employees for a job well done.

To learn more about the importance of improving happiness in your workplace, visit www.roberthalf.comhttps://www.roberthalf.com/its-time-we-all-work-happy

Source: Survey of more than 12,000 U.S. and Canadian workers developed by Robert Half and Happiness Works, and conducted by an independent research firm.

© 2016 Robert Half International Inc. An equal opportunity employer M/F/Disability/Veterans.

Lisa Amstutz is the public relations manager for Robert Half Finance & Accounting, the world’s first and largest specialized financial recruitment service. In her role, she translates key business needs and messages into communications strategies and develops the company’s thought leadership. She’s a master collaborator, storyteller and former journalist. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her family.