Is it really our business as employers to make sure our employees are happy? Is there a one size fits all to happiness? And why should we care about happiness?
Surely if we just paid more money our staff will be happy and therefore more productive. Recent research has made a correlation between an employees happiness and their productivity and it has nothing to do with salary.
A recent study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive. As the research team put it, “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.”
Professor Andrew Oswald, Dr Eugenio Proto and Dr Daniel Sgroi from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick led the research.
The study included four different experiments with more than 700 participants.
During the experiments a number of the participants were either shown a comedy movie clip or treated to free chocolate, drinks and fruit. Others were questioned about recent family tragedies, such as bereavements, to assess whether lower levels of happiness were later associated with lower levels of productivity.
Professor Oswald said: “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.”
Dr Sgroi added: “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.”
“We have shown that happier subjects are more productive, the same pattern appears in four different experiments. This research will provide some guidance for management in all kinds of organizations, they should strive to make their workplaces emotionally healthy for their workforce.”
At Google, we know that health, family and wellbeing are an important aspect of Googlers’ lives. We have also noticed that employees who are happy … demonstrate increased motivation … [We] … work to ensure that Google is… an emotionally healthy place to work. Lara Harding, People Programs Manager, Google.
Supporting our people must begin at the most fundamental level – their physical and mental health and well- being. It is only from strong foundations that they can handle … complex issues.
Matthew Thomas, Manager – Employee Relations, Ernst and Young.
A report published by TINYpulse titled “What Leaders Need to Know About Remote Workers” whereby they surveyed 509 U.S employees who work remotely at all times to find out about their experiences in the workplace. And to put their responses in context, they compared them with benchmarks calculated from responses from over 200,000 employees across all work arrangements. There were some striking differences with the major one being that in comparison to all employees remote workers are happier at work.
On a scale of 1 to 10, remote workers report an average level of work happiness of 8.1, compared to 7.42 for other employees.
They may rarely see their colleagues and superiors, but remote workers also feel more valued by their employers. On that metric, they have an average score of 7.75, compared to 6.69 for other workers.
Of those same remote workers surveyed a staggering 91% assert that they get more work done outside the office – a.k.a when they are happiest.
Another interesting finding: Those who work more days a week are the happiest.
In fact, remote employees who report working seven days a week, but shorter hours, were the most satisfied of all, with an average satisfaction rating of 8.49. The next happiest were those who worked sporadic hours throughout the week, with a rating of 8.12. Those who worked a typical, 9-5 schedule, came in third, at 7.88, just slightly ahead of those who worked consistent but unconventional schedules, such as nights or Sunday-Thursday.
At the core of the causal effect of happiness and productivity is knowing your people. Hiring the right people for the right job and allowing them to work in an environment that makes them happy will in the end yield the highest productivity.