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Happiness project aka "How you doin"

We wanted to know how somebody (in this case my colleagues) is feeling on a day to day basis. And that is a difficult task. If you want to know if changes have effect you need a baseline... something you can measure. But .... how do you measure happiness?

This is an interesting problem and I walk you through a couple of ideas that we tried.

Method 1: You might go for the personal approach and just ask (and let's be honest, this is always the best solution).

Depending the size of your company, that might be difficult. Besides, and this might be a Dutch thing, when you ask "Hoe gaat het?" (How are you doing?) you will most likely get "Het gaat goed" (It's going well). Usually people don't tell how they really feel with this casual question. You probably need a very personal connection with that person to get the truth... Depending on the size of your company, you probably won't have that kind of relation ship with everybody.

Method 2: Another approach might be to let people fill out a form how they feel. That might work for a couple of weeks (let's pretend you only ask it on the end of the work week: Friday) but very quickly people will "forget". You might want to "force" people to do it, but if you will not keep that up ... people just won't do it.

Method 3: Maybe an automated approach will work better? Let's ask a bot to ping/contact everybody, everyday and ask the same question over and over again: "How YOU doin'?" . Every day? Every day the same question in your mail, Slack or WhatsApp... I would be blocking that bot very quickly!

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

~ Samuel Beckett

(I know about the original meaning, but it fits sooo good with this story!)


We took the learnings from our previous experiments and came up with a couple of conditions the solution needs to meet:

  • It shouldn’t feel like ‘another task’ you have to do
  • It should require a minimum amount of effort
  • It needs to be anonymous
  • It should give (some sort of) feedback
  • It needs to be something that you are actually motivated to do
  • It should be to remember to do

The idea is simple: we have five physical buttons that indicates how you feel. This board is placed in the hall so you would pass this at least twice a day: once when you entered the building and again when you leave.

How would this work?

The happiness project is placed on top of the stairs, it's almost impossible to miss. When you enter the building in the morning you can express your emotions by hitting one of the five buttons.

And when you leave the building you past happiness project again so you can hit that button again.

You don't need to be reminded about the project it's just there! And it doesn't take any effort because it's just hitting one of the button. If you're angry, hit that button 10 times, are feeling meh, hit that middle button.

Are you going out for some groceries, just hit the button on your way out and maybe do that again when you enter the office?

Current State of the project

The prototype is done (hardware and software). We have the five physical buttons connected the Internet. The data is collected in a fire-base database.

I have given a couple of presentations about the project and the things that I learned during the project. Everybody seems to be enthusiastic about the project and our positive it would work.

Are currently collecting data and analyzing the data.