Article

New Things Happiness Tool

May 26, 2020

Photo of Laura Toropainen

Laura Toropainen

If your organisation is looking for a way to measure and visualise company happiness, we know one that you can easily adopt for 0€ if it suits your needs.

We call it our Happiness Tool and we use it once a month to touch base on how our peeps are doing and how much they are learning - and visualise the situation for the whole team to see.

History of the tool:

In 2018 we made our first Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), thinking about what our goals are and how we should measure them.

We found that in order to grow our company sustainably and without compromising our values and our beloved culture we need to measure our success in 5 objectives that are important to us:

  • Having a happy team

  • Generating personal growth

  • Having the best projects

  • Growing the team without compromising quality

  • Being financially profitable

While all of these objectives are important and most are linked to each other, the consensus was quite clear; even if we reach all the other goals but our team is unhappy, we have failed. So measuring happiness somehow was key.

We had heard through the grapevine that our friends at Talented were using a tool in their company which measures their team’s workload and happiness, so we went, asked and found an open source tool made by Teemu Tiilikainen from Talented (link at the end). Why reinvent a wheel when you can recycle?

We tweaked the tool to match our goals and voilà, we had our first MVP.

How it works for us

  1. Ask the team to use the tool at the beginning of each monthly meeting

  2. Show the results and go round the team. Everyone shares about their month and what things have affected their happiness and learning

  3. Measure the results each month and take action if there are significant drops

From the perspective of the tool user:

Step 1: Add your name

Step one: Add your name

Step 2: Think about how happy you are and how much you are learning the things you want to learn. Step 3: Choose a spot on the map accordingly. (My other developer friend Mikko made a 2.0 version that also allows you to see the trend compared to last month)

Step 2: Think about how happy you are and how much you are learning the things you want to learn.
Step 3: Choose a spot on the map accordingly.
(Our 2.0 version also allows you to see the trend compared to last month)

Step 4: After everyone has made their entry the results are made transparent for everyone to see and we have an open discussion where everyone gets a chance to tell about their month, their project and how they have been doing in general. (Names other than mine are blocked here to protect privacy and as you can see, there’s a lot to think about in terms of scalability.)

Measuring happiness

Gathering the data into a simple sheet works for us, transforming the answers into two numbers: How much are you learning the things you want to learn % and how happy are you %.

Screenshots from our actual OKR tracking sheet, the numbers are real ones from 2019.

We use a weekly anonymous pulse measurement (using Polly) too, keeping in mind that humans are dynamic, most people have a variety of things affecting their happiness and the happiness tool is not anonymous.

What’s next for the tool:

We are constantly working to improve the tool. Here are things we are developing; 

  • Improving admin functionalities

  • Reducing visual clutter by adding a presentation mode

  • Adding a heat map to indicate change from last month 

  • Improving facilitation of the happiness rounds

  • Pimping up the look with some awesome design

Other stuff we use (also not made by us) are:

  • Donut bot for lunch/coffee/afterworks matching https://www.donut.com/

  • Praisely for giving praise and kudos to friends https://praise.ly/

  • LunchTrain - the end of lengthy decision making at 11:30ish https://lunchtrain.builtbyslack.com/

  • Polly for all sorts of polls and measurements https://www.polly.ai/help/slack/

  • Doodle for doodles https://doodle.com/content/doodle-bot

  • Secret santa bot was fun in 2019 https://secret-santa.team/

How you can get the Happiness Tool:

If you feel like this could bring added value to your company, and you want to try it, here’s how to do it:

  • Get the code from Teme: https://github.com/tlntd/fourfold

  • Tweak and twerk to fit your needs - if you can’t do it either learn or ask someone who can

  • Test it and if you make cool changes share those so we can all get smarter

Here’s a change we recently made (the arrows shown in pics above): https://github.com/NewThingsCo/fourfold/tree/arrow-between-prev-and-current

So far the feedback on the Happiness Tool from our team has been mostly positive. Especially the fact that it has given a platform for sharing and visually see how people are doing and discuss openly about things that are going on. This is valuable for us, since usually more than half of our peeps are working with their teams on site with customers, and the whole community gets together once a week.

Of course during the writing of this blog 90% of NewThings are working remotely due to the government's recommendations regarding COVID-19. However, this for us has emphasized the need for keeping a finger on the pulse and made it more important to measure happiness.

If you want more information about the tool or our company email us anytime at hello@newthings.co or contact anyone of us directly.

If you are interested in working in a team where happiness is measured, you can check out our open positions.