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E79 | [Rebroadcast] Nic Marks: Measuring the Population’s Happiness

Today’s guest is Nic Marks, CEO and Founder of Friday, the company Nic set up to track employee happiness, in order to help businesses build a more positive, productive work culture. 

A statistician by trade but with a background as a therapist, Nic has a slightly weird speciality—happiness—having used it spending the last three decades creating a measure of people’s quality of life. Nic firmly believes that measuring happiness kick-starts a process which ultimately builds happiness.

In just over 6 years, Nic and the team at Friday have worked with more than 9,000 teams across 1,000 organisations, measuring and improving happiness at work. Happiness is a great proxy for quickly judging how things are in a team at a moment in time—if you’re happy at work things are likely to be going well, if you’re not happy, they’re not. 

On today’s podcast:

  • Why Nic measures happiness
  • How happiness is an indicator of how content people are
  • The benefits of increasing happiness among the population of the UK
  • The link between happiness and political affiliation
  • Why Friday is the best day of the week to conduct a happiness survey
  • 5 ways to increase happiness at work


In today’s podcast we chat with Nic Marks, a statistician who is committed to improving the well-being and happiness of the population as a whole. 

Realising that his work in government policy wasn’t going to reach as many adults as he wanted, he set up his company, Friday, with a mission to improve the world of work so that we can all work happier every single day. 

Because how else are you going to reach all the adults in the UK? Sure, you can contact them through tax relief, or when they’re sick and need the health service, but that isn’t going to get to all of them, and neither of those channels will ultimately improve their overall happiness either. 

With 31 million adults employed in the UK, and almost 100 million adults employed in the USA, Nic realised he had his in—if you’re going to impact the happiness of the population, then you need to get them when they’re at work. 

If people are fundamentally unhappy in life, they are likely to be unhappy at work, and vice versa; the spillover effects work both ways. Happiness is a great way of judging how people are doing—overall if you’re happy at work things are going well in life, if you’re not happy, they’re not. 

The benefits of increasing happiness amongst a population

Raising the happiness of the population as a whole has so many benefits, it’s not hard to see why Labour under Tony Blair, and the Conservatives under David Cameron wanted to find ways to improve our general well-being. 

  • Happier people live approximately 5-10 years longer than their unhappy counterparts. Happiness is so vital to our well being that it has a bigger impact on longevity than either quitting smoking or lowering your BMI.
  • Happier people are less of a burden on the health service, thus saving money.
  • Happier people create a better community spirit, and as we are naturally social creatures, a happier community benefits us all. 
  • Happier people are more productive and more creative, and businesses see a marked increase in workforce retention the happier their employees are.
  • A happier population would be more productive population, not just at home and in wider society, but at work too. 

Happiness as a KPI

By using happiness as a KPI, Friday found that happy teams are 22% more productive than unhappy teams. And Friday clients who increased their weekly happiness scores saw a 7% increase in productivity and a 17% reduction in staff turnover.

Happiness should be seen as an early warning system around employee churn. Not only that, happiness also impacts customer satisfaction, product development, and nearly everything involved in running a successful business. 

Companies talk about the lifetime value of an employee, and that is related to how long the employee stays with the company and how productive they are in their role. If you increase the happiness of that employee, you will increase both those factors and therefore increase the lifetime value of that employee. 

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