What makes employees happy at work?

1. Warm-up
Which three of these things do you think are the most important factors in making people happy in their jobs? 

  • being listened to
  • fairness
  • flexible start and finish times
  • high salaries
  • generous holiday/vacation time
  • perks at work (perks are an extra advantage you are given because of your job, eg an employee discount or access to special services or activities)
  • trust and respect 

2. Vocabulary

Let’s prepare some of the vocabularies before listening:

Have you ever participated in a survey?

Do you know the revenue growth of your company?

Do you invest in the stock market?

Can you name a service that outperforms all others?

What’s the difference between turnover and employee turnover?

Give me an example of a miracle?

What’s another word for ping-pong?

What’s the difference between a message and a massage

Do you have any company perks?

Name 2 things that can be treated?

If you feel empowered to do something, what is happening?

Name 3 different types of properties?

What does it mean to hand something to someone?

The sea erodes the coastline, but what can erode trust?

Can you use the work rank in 2 different ways?

If you are a professor with tenure at a university, what do you have?

What do you have proficiency in?

Can you describe a situation where you have to balance things out?

What does it mean to unlearn something?

What is active listening?

How much eye contact do the Spanish use in conversation?

What’s the difference between “to look at” something and “to stare at” something?

If I litter the streets what am I doing?


3. Watching the video for the main ideas.

  • For 3 main advantages of happy workers 
  • For 3 main ideas to create a happy workforce.

Watch the full video with no subtitles. 


3. Comprehension Questions:

How many people are working in the world?

What percentage are happy at work?


If an organization’s workers are happy, what happens to revenue?


If an organization’s workers are happy, what happens to performance?

Employee Turnover 

If an organization’s workers are happy, what happens to employee turnover?

How can we make workers happier?

The 3 Ideas:

Summarize the following ideas

Trust & Respect

What happened with the laptop example?

What is the effect this has on an employee?

What is the effect on cost?

What can an organization do to have a high level of trust?

What was important about the Four Seasons story?


What quickly erodes trust in an organization?

In general, what do employees want?

Which organization is given as an example for having a good level of fairness?

What did they do to make things fair?


What are some examples of what is NOT listening?

What is listening according to the video?

What is the one thing that really matters to people when they are speaking?

What’s the reason to change? 

4. Listen again with English subtitles 

5. Exercise

Match the verb with the objects


  1. empower
  2. approve
  3. service
  4. hand
  5. deliver


a. a laptop (or a purchase)
b. employees
c. the best service in the world 

d. the customer
e. trust (to an employee) 


6. Use the vocabulary from the video in a different context

What is a similar name for a survey?

Do you believe in the revenue growth of cryptocurrency?

What is the best investment for 2022?

Does your company have a high employee turnover?

Give me an example of a miracle?

Which daily drink gives you a perk?

What things can you hand/ hand over to someone?

What would you like to have proficiency in?

Name something that you like staring at?


6. Discussion

Michael C Bush ends his talk by encouraging the audience to reflect on how they can change for the better. Think about how you might make a positive change at work or in a personal context, based on the three key points from the talk: 

• trust and respect

• fairness

• listening skills 


Video Transcript 

Part 1 Introduction (0:00-1:11) 

We survey CEOs, police officers, truck drivers, cooks, engineers. If people are working, we’ve surveyed them. And what we know, in terms of their happiness: workers all want the same things. There’s three billion working people in the world. And about 40 percent of them would say they’re happy at work. That means about 1.8 billion, or almost two billion people, are not happy at work. What does that do, both to those people and the organizations that they work in?

Well, let’s talk about money. Organizations that have a lot of happy employees have three times the revenue growth, compared to organizations where that’s not true. They outperform the stock market by a factor of three. And if you look at employee turnover, it’s half that of organizations that have a lot of unhappy employees. The miracle thing is, you don’t have to spend more money to make this happen. It’s not about ping-pong tables and massages and pet walking. It’s not about the perks. It’s all about how they’re treated by their leaders and by the people that they work with.

Part 2 (1:12-2:12) 

So I’d like to share a few ideas that create happy employees. Idea number one: in organizations where employees are happy, what you find is two things are present: trust and respect. Leaders often say, “We trust our employees. We empower our employees.” And then when an employee needs a laptop — and this is a true example — 15 people have to approve that laptop. So for the employee, all the words are right, but 15 levels of approval for a $1,500 laptop? You’ve actually spent more money than the laptop, on the approval. And the employee feels maybe they’re really not trusted. So what can an organization do to have a high level of trust? The first organization that comes to mind is Four Seasons. They have magnificent properties all around the world. And their employees are told, “Do whatever you think is right when servicing the customer.” To hand 

that trust to your employees to do whatever they think is right makes the employees feel great. And this is why they’re known for delivering some of the best service in the world. 

Part 3 (2:13-2:50) 

Idea number two: fairness. The thing that erodes trust in an organization faster than anything else is when employees feel that they’re being treated unfairly. Employees want to be treated the same, regardless of their rank or their tenure or their age or their experience or their job category, compared to anyone else. When I think about great organizations who get fairness right, the first organization that comes to mind is Salesforce. They found that men and women working in the same job with the same level of proficiency were making different amounts of money. So immediately, they calculated the difference, and they invested three million dollars to try and balance things out. 

Part 4 (2:51-4:12) 

Idea number three is listening. So, to be a listener who connects with all types of people, we have to unlearn a few things. We’ve all been taught about active listening and eye contact — an intense stare and a compassionate look. That’s not listening. Repeating what the person says — that’s not listening. Being humble and always hunting and searching for the best idea possible — that’s what listening is. And employees can feel whether you’re doing that or not. They want to know, when they talk to you and share an idea, did you consider it when you made a decision? The one thing that everybody appreciates and wants when they’re speaking is to know that what they say matters so much you might actually change your mind. Otherwise, what’s the point of the conversation? 


We all know the things we need to change, the things that we need to do differently. The way you behave, the way you treat others, the way you respond, the way you support, defines the work experience for everyone around you. Changing to be a better person — the world is littered with those failures. But changing because there’s something you believe in, some purpose that you have, where you’re willing to risk almost everything because it’s so important to you — that’s the reason to change. If it’s not, you should probably find a different place to work. 

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