Happiness and productivity

Updated: May 5 2014, 02:35am hrs
What's the best way to ensure that your employees become more productive Keeping them happy is the simple answer. Economists and researchers have been carrying out various experiments and tests to determine whether happy employees work harder. In the latest laboratory tests, they have found that happiness made people around 12% more productive. This is a study using randomised trials and is due to appear in the coming issue of The Journal of Labour Economics. The study was conducted by professor Andrew Oswald, Eugenio Proto and Daniel Sgroi from the department of economics at the University of Warwick, UK, who led the research teams. The research included four different experiments with more than 700 participants. During the experiments, the participants were either shown a comedy movie clip or treated to free chocolate, drinks and fruit. Others were questioned about recent family tragedies to assess whether lower levels of happiness were associated with lower levels of productivity.

The research clearly showed a correlation between a happy workforce and higher productivity. Oswald looked at companies like Google to prove the point: Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%. Under scientifically-controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off. 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. The same pattern appeared in four different experiments. The research provides some guidance for management in all kinds of organisations. In fact, the findings have implications for employers and promotion policies.

One of the leading experts on the subject is Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, who believes that the greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy is a positive and engaged workforce. Achor was the head teaching fellow for psychologist Tal Ben-Shahars happiness course at Harvard. He found that lessons learned there could also be applied to organisations. In the working world, he says, working with leaders, I began to discover that some of the same principles that caused Harvard students to rise to the top were also the same principles used by leaders to become more successful.