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Health / Safety

Professor helps company evaluate employee satisfaction, happiness

July 28, 2010

Would you know if your employees are happy? A Colorado State University psychologist has developed a survey for a new Fort Collins-based firm that measures and ranks employers based on happiness of the employees.

Feeling good about coming to work

Associate Professor Zinta Byrne and four doctoral students have created a tool that rates employers based on whether their employees enjoy their work, regardless of their pay level.

Zinta Byrne, associate professor of industrial and organizational psychology in the College of Natural Sciences, with the help of four doctoral students in the Industiral and Organizational Psychology (IO) program, has created a certification tool for Choose People LLC that rates employers based on whether their employees enjoy their work, regardless of their pay level.

“The survey generally addresses how people perceive their workplace and various aspects of their jobs and work environment that make them feel good about coming to work,” Byrne said.

“Do I perceive that I’m supported? Do I feel like I’m treated fairly?”

Psychological perceptions

The survey questions are proprietary, but Byrne said they are framed to address psychological perceptions people have about their workplaces. In other words, Byrne said, the survey is more complex than merely asking people, “Are you happy?”

How the process works: Employers hire Choose People to evaluate their workplace, and Choose People surveys the employees. Based on responses, Choose People issues a certification to the employer ranking the company based on criteria that the CSU team developed.

“Choose People does not take into consideration HR processes/policies, benefits or compensation, just the ultimate result/performance of this question: ‘Do your employees feel good about coming to work?’” said Kris Boesch, founder of Choose People in Fort Collins. “Charged with this task, Dr. Byrne’s team conducted three phases of research to uncover what factors go into this question as well as how to measure survey results.”

Byrne’s team surveyed more than 1,300 people across a range of 33 organizations and industries to produce the certification measurement tool for Choose People.

Students garnered significant experience

“I think it was an excellent project for CSU students,” Boesch said. “They were able to garner significant experience since they participated in a real-world research project from beginning to end. This project also had depth and challenges – it wasn’t just calculating numbers or pushing paper or entering data.

“The students know that their work has a critical role in the success of Choose People,” Boesch said. “There is no doubt in my mind that when higher education can collaborate with real-world businesses on valuable projects – both the businesses and the students benefit tremendously.”

Students assisting with the project were:

  • Christa Palmer
  • Stefanie Putter
  • Natalie Wolfsen
  • Paige Gardner

Byrne joined Colorado State University in 2002 after working as an IO consultant for an international management consulting firm. Byrne’s research focuses on employee engagement, retention and fairness in the workplace.


Contact: Emily Wilmsen
E-mail: Emily.Wilmsen@colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-2336