By Sophie Christopher, Viking,

Spending less than £500 per employee each year on social outings and training courses could increase workforce happiness by over a third (35 per cent) in UK small business.

Research conducted by office supplies company Viking, reveals that employees in small businesses believe training and development, benefits such as flexible working and social events and regular company updates from bosses are as important as a pay rise.

By investing £286 on training courses and £190 on staff outings per employee, levels of happiness at work would increase by 35 per cent*, according to analysis of the key drivers of happiness.

We polled more than 1,000 staff in businesses of no more than 50 employees across a range of sectors from financial services and IT to manufacturing and education to discover the biggest factors of being happy, or unhappy, during their working day.

Average costs were then put against three most consistently reported drivers – training, social outings and salary. Surprisingly the research revealed that training and social outings far outweigh salary. To gain the a 35 per cent increase in happiness amongst staff, employers must spend £476 on training and days out, compared to a pay rise of £5,000 which only yielded a 3 percent increase.

This research into workplace happiness aimed to give support and advice to small business owners in the UK by getting to the heart of what employees want. We often think that more money will bring greater happiness, and while this is true to a certain extent, it is not the whole story. Employees value being valued – whether that’s a night out with colleagues or a training course.

Other findings from the research revealed that a third of employees are unhappy for more than half the working day, 42 per cent say they are stressed and unmotivated.

Staff admitted to being most productive between 10-12 on Tuesdays, with Monday afternoon between 4-6pm being the least productive time.

Employees also revealed that there are distinct areas that employers could improve on. Almost half (47 per cent) of employees feel that lack of job security and not being informed about ‘the bigger picture’ in terms of company objectives and goals (47 per cent) is a main cause for unhappiness. And, employee benefits package was a higher source of dissatisfaction (53 percent) than salary itself (51 per cent), showing the need for ‘extras’ including flexible working hours, additional holiday entitlement and team social events.

The research reveals findings from a cross-section of sectors and transport, charity workers and engineers were deemed the happiest professions with workers a third happier than those in any other sector. Meanwhile, IT and telecoms and civil service professions were the most unhappy professions.

Click here for Viking happiness at work research.