The results are in, and Missouri State Teachers Association is the winner of the TINYpulse Happiest Company Award in the Non-Profit industry. They maintained the highest happiness score over a period of six months.
You’re probably wondering how we measure workplace happiness ...
Once a month, we ask employees at over 500 companies around the world how happy they are at work. We separated the companies into 14 different industries then track the average happiness score for each organization.
About Missouri State Teachers Association
We all know the importance of education. In 1856, 110 teachers met in St. Louis to establish the Missouri Teachers Association with a purpose to "promote the sacred interests of education by uniting the different members advancing their mutual improvement, and elevating the profession to its just intellectual and moral influence on the community.”
Their dedication to serving students and the communication stems from feeling valued for the work they put in. And in order to do spread that positivity to the community, the organization must first start with spreading positivity within their own association through employee engagement.
We got a chance to speak with the team to go behind the scenes of the organization to find out what makes Missouri State Teachers Association one of the best places to work. Let's see what they had to say.
Q: Funniest recognition you’ve ever received?
A: We don’t have much internally. We used to have a random employee of the month award that was basically awarded to whoever stole the trophy, so we opened it up to see what special recognition our staff has received. We have some pretty impressive people here.
- From Kim in Accounting: It's work related. Long ago when I was a high schooler and working, I was named drive-thru person of the year at my local McDonalds. Really resume-worthy stuff there.
- From Charles in Field Services: I've won several chili cook-offs, but many years ago, I took second place in the state bus road-e-o in my division.
- From Kara in Communication: At my first job out of college, I was named the Sports Information Intern of the Year. Not only was I the only intern, I was also the entire sports information department.
Q: What was your happiest moment at work?
A: To better answer the questions, we shared them with the staff and sought input. We, surprisingly, had a lot of people respond that their happiest moment at work was the day they found out they were joining the team. Kim, our Member Care Supervisor, summarizes why people are excited to work here.
“When our organization started to recognize that all employees, regardless of their position, have intelligent ideas, suggestions, and input. Then we actually listening and taking that input to the next level by implementing our collaborative work and actually benefiting from the results and outcome, from start to finish. When this process started to materialize, that was a happy moment.”
Another popular answer had to do with engaging with our members. Whether it was helping them with legal problems, bringing about a new event like our New Professionals Training Camp, sharing member stories and resources through our magazine, or bringing them together through our creative retreat, assisting our members makes for a great day.
Q: What kind of fun activities does your company participate in?
A: We're a non-profit, so we don’t have a big budget to do Free Breakfast Monday or Happy Hour Friday.
We do try to recognize employees, have fun, and just enjoy each other. We have about 49 (give or take, depending on the time of year) employees and about a third operate out of home offices all across the state. It’s important for those not in our main office to feel like part of the group. Over the years, we've participated in a number of activities. None of these are required, employees are invited but if it’s not their thing, they don’t feel pressured to attend. Forced fun is no fun.
- Food bank: We took an afternoon and bagged hot dogs at the local food bank. Nothing brings you together like a lot of cold hot dogs.
- MSTA Underwear 5K: Each fall we host our own staff-only 5K. Each participant donates a package of new, little-kid underwear. After the race, we take the donations to the Health Services (school nurses) Department at the local school district. They distribute these to the local elementary schools. The school nurse can always use some emergency underwear for the little people in their care. This is a great fit for us as an education association. It fills a specific need that not many outside the industry would know existed.
- Health challenges: Twice a year, we have a health challenge and health fair for all employees. Our 5K is in conjunction with one of the health challenges. It makes us feel better about the next activity.
- Food!: We love food. We host lots of potlucks for lunch. In the summer, one of our directors will pull out the grill and make brats and burgers. In the winter we host “Soup Day” and enjoy a bunch of different soups. We also do a few organized lunches each year — a Christmas luncheon and staff dinner before our big annual Convention. Plus, lots of assorted ice cream, donuts, etc. And the occasional happy hour where the association will spring for some appetizers.
- Art: We went to a local paint-your-own picture place and spent a few hours embracing our art skills.
- Cardboard boat: We participated in the cardboard regatta — a race of cardboard boats (ours held two people) to support our local food bank. Staff found the supplies, designed and built a really amazing looking cardboard canoe, and raced it on a wet Saturday last April.
Q: What's one thing that every company can do to make their employees happy?
A: We try to be supportive of the employees' work and personal goals and their overall well being, so it’s clear that we care about each other.
Next we try to respect and trust our employees so they're free to carry out their responsibilites (not just tasks) without getting in their way. We want to give them the freedom to do their jobs while providing support when they need it.
Q: If you could describe your work culture in three words, what would they be?
A: Supportive. Collaborative. Fun.