Smiley, happy people = productive people

happy-at-workIt seems sensible to believe that employee engagement and productivity go hand in hand.  The notion that employees that love what they do and are generally happy will deliver better work.  A new study published recently by the University of Warwick shouldn’t come as a huge surprise therefore.

The researchers conducted several experiments to test their hypothesis that happy employees work hard.  Across four experiments and over 700 participants, they offered people a range of things to make them happy.  These ranged from being shown a comedy clip or treated to some free chocolate.

By contrast, some of the participants were primed to think sad thoughts by being questioned about recent family tragedies.  The aim was to determine whether low levels of happiness were later associated with drops in productivity.

“Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37 percent; they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off,” says one of the research team.

“The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality,” they continue.

The Warwick study found that increased happiness resulted in a 12% rise in productivity, in lab conditions at least.  The researchers believe that their finding underlines the importance of managers creating a healthy and happy workplace, and that doing so will have direct results on the bottom line.

Of course, providing free chocolate or comedy films isn’t likely to happen in many workplaces, so the onus then falls on employers to make work sufficiently engaging and rewarding to make it fun.  Just as many of our educational systems suck the fun out of learning, so it seems do many of our workplace systems suck the fun out of working.  Those systems are long overdue for change.

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