New research from the University of Warwick suggests that happiness makes employees more productive at work. 12% more productive to be exact, and unhappy employees proved to be 10% less productive. The research team of economists put it best, “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings."
When we ask business leaders whether or not they believe that happy and healthy employees perform better, the answer is unequivocally yes (this is even before this piece of research). However, when we ask them if they systematically invest in making their employees happier and healthier, the answer is usually no or kind of.
These types of responses in the face of growing volumes of research connecting happiness, health, and engagement to productivity, which also happens also to be consistent with leaderships’ personal views, amazes the entire Wellable team. If the research shows the connection and personal views are consistent with the research, why don’t management teams immediately establish a Chief Happiness Officer?
Unfortunately, we don’t have the answer. All we can do is push research like this to the forefront and encourage management teams to act. The reason happiness leads to increases in productivity is because the brain works much better when a person is feeling positive. When happy, individuals tend to be more creative and better at solving problems. Also, additional research has shown that when workers are happy, they are more effective collaborators and work toward common goals.
If that doesn’t convince you, perhaps this will. Professor Andrew Oswald from the study provides a short case study on one of the greatest American companies today: Google. “Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%, they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.” Specifically, we love this affordable and effective way Google has kept their employees happy and healthy.
The good news for leadership is that because most management teams fail to act on employee happiness, there is a huge competitive advantage for those that do. Google is a perfect example of how a company can become a market leader in so many areas simply by investing in their best asset, their people.