Although the business-management business might agree that employee happiness is a good thing, they've also come up with the ridiculous mantra: "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it." Einstein, who was a real scientist, pointed out that "not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
We probably can't put happiness in a spreadsheet in any meaningful way. But instead of giving up, we can look at an example, a technique that Netflix apparently uses for employee evaluations. Instead of doing lots of measurements and questions and forms to generate that all-important "measured" number, the Netflix managers asked (or so I imagine) "what really matters here?" And answered: "how badly do we want to keep this employee?" So, instead of pretending they could turn it into a science, they just ask the team manager to imagine that the employee is going to leave, and how did they feel about that? If the feeling was deep concern or panic, then that employee is an important part of the team. But if the feeling is not very concerned, then the manager is encouraged to preemptively move the employee on to greener pastures (along with a generous severance package).
This uses our capability to make decisions as described in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink -- your unconscious mind knows things that your conscious mind is unable to reason out (although it turns out decisions are actually made by some strange combination of reason and feeling). The trick is to do something that forces a decision without sending you into a tailspin of rational analysis.
To find out how happy you are in your current job, some possible questions might be:
- Can you imagine a job that would make you leave your current position?
- Are there aspects of your current job that make you think about leaving? How often do these happen or how dominant are they? How likely is it that these aspects would ever change?
- How much autonomy do you have in your job? Do you feel like you're growing in your profession?