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The Power of Happiness on Employee Productivity

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AccelaWork’s very own Robby Slaughter contributed another article in the Indianapolis Business Journal. The piece is titled “Does Your Workflow Bring Satisfaction?”

Here’s an excerpt from the full essay, which unfortunately has since been removed from the IBJ site:

The satisfaction derived from work is more than just momentary bliss. Satisfaction is an essential component of productivity. Many studies have shown that people who are most effective at work enjoy much of what they do. Happiness might not sound like a practical employee objective, but it’s an outcome that has tremendous power.

employee satisfaction from workflow

© Flickr user °Florian

Slaughter continues:

Scientists have studied what connects work and satisfaction. In the opening to the landmark book “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience,” researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi notes that “we have all experienced times when, instead of being buffeted by anonymous forces, we do feel in control of our actions, masters of our own fate. On the rare occasions that it happens, we feel a sense of exhilaration, a deep sense of enjoyment that is long cherished and that becomes a landmark in memory for what life should be like.”

Note how Csikszentmihalyi refers to the difference between unsatisfying and satisfying work. The former is like being knocked around randomly, but the later is about authority, responsibility and self-awareness. This recognition provides an essential clue in how to improve employee productivity. We must remove the arbitrary and anonymous elements of work and replace them with meaningful tasks that demonstrate trust, ability and opportunity for growth.

Slaughter isn’t the only one to talk about this issue. Another recent study by The University of Warwick echoed the sentiment that happier workers are more productive ones.

Happiness makes people more productive at work, according to the latest research from the University of Warwick.

Economists carried out a number of experiments to test the idea that happy employees work harder. In the laboratory, they found happiness made people around 12% more productive.

The article continues by elaborating on the study and the implications it may have:

This is the first causal evidence using randomized trials and piece-rate working. The study, to be published in the Journal of Labor Economics, 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.”

Dr Proto said the research had implications for employers and promotion policies.

He said: “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.”

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s incredible how many people underestimate the impact something as simple as happiness can have. Curious about how to create a emotionally healthy workplace and continue to make those around you happy? We can help! For more information about how stakeholder happiness can impact your business, contact our consulting firm today.

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