It’s True: Happy People Are Just More Productive

When are you most motivated at work?

Is it coming back from a long vacation? On Mondays after a great Sunday with friends? Or, Fridays when you have a relaxing weekend in store? Is it when you’ve just gotten great feedback from your boss, or had an especially productive meeting?

Chances are it’s a combination of all of the above—and science agrees with you.

More specifically, I’m saying that happier people get more done, and get it done better than most. In fact, a 2015 study at the University of Warwick in the UK found that they’re precisely 12% more productive than the average individual.

In order to test this, participants in the study were either “shown a comedy movie clip or treated to free chocolate, drinks, and fruit” during the experiment, while “others were questioned about recent family tragedies, such as bereavements” to see if emotions played a part in productivity.

This finding may not surprise you—but the alternative might. According to Harvard Business Review, unhappy people are not only less productive than the average individual, they’re costly for companies. To quote HBR authors Emma Seppala and Kim Cameron:

“In studies by the Queens School of Business and by the Gallup Organization, disengaged workers had 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, and 60% more errors and defects. In organizations with low employee engagement scores, they experienced 18% lower productivity, 16% lower profitability, 37% lower job growth, and 65% lower share price over time.”

What does this mean for you? For one thing, it’s crucial to not just like your job, but for it to make you happy. And being happy isn’t about the perks, or benefits, or money, but about finding a career that makes you feel fulfilled every day and like you’re contributing to something bigger than yourself.

I know—cheesy—but it’s true!

On the other hand, it also means companies should be investing more in employee happiness—whether that means encouraging flexible schedules or team bonding activities—if they plan on being profitable and sustainable in the long run.

Either way, it’s clear happiness is a big player in success for both companies and employees—and if we set our sights on it, we might be surprised with the result.

Ready to start finding happiness at work today? Try one of these 37 small habits on for size.

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About Richard Moy

Richard Moy
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.

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