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Happy employees are more productive

August 6, 2015

By Cheryl Kuch, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

According to a study of over 700 participants by the University of Warwick, happiness contributes to about 12% greater productivity.  And in a meta-analysis of over 225 academic studies, Sonja Lyubomirsky, Laura King and Ed Diener found that happy employees experience 31% more productivity, 37% higher sales and even triple the amount of creativity. Why are happier employees more productive and what can you do to contribute to their happiness?  

Many people believe that if or when they achieve success they will be happy. But research suggests the opposite to be true: being happy actually contributes more greatly to success. 

Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, has discovered a few interesting facts in his research about the brain and happiness.  First, he found the brain works much better when a person is feeling positive.  Secondly, he found that the greatest predictor of entrepreneurial success is optimism.  And third, only 25% of a worker’s success in the job is based on IQ (or ability) the rest is based on how your brain believes your behavior matters, connects you to other people and manages stress. 

This is not an unknown concept. Companies who have embraced happiness are seeing impact.  Google found that employee satisfaction levels increased 37% when they focused on overall employee happiness.  Shawn Achor describes  a story of Burt’s Bee’s CEO, as they began an anxiety ridden move toward globalization, knowing employees would be stressed, focused on employee happiness and the result was a cohesive engaged manager group that led the successful expansion. Barbara Corcoran of “Shark Tank” fame said at a conference that the number one reason her employees are loyal to her is because of her office “fun” policy.  

Companies that invest in employee support and satisfaction generate happier workers. Helping your employees find fun, joy and meaning in what they do in a supportive, engaging environment can contribute greatly to their overall happiness. In addition to the usual engagement factors such as regularly expressing genuine appreciation for achievements and providing a positive culture and new experiences,    employers can focus on these strategies:

Provide Strong Social Support: Giving and receiving social support to each other correlates with employee happiness. Employers can focus on providing collaborative opportunities, social connection opportunities, cross-training and creating opportunities for employees to train and help each other. Oshner Heath uses the “10/5” rule: When an employee is within 10 feet of another person he must make eye contact and smile; within five feet she must say hello. 

Comedy and Food: The Warwick study found that environments that include humor and food do well for happiness. Starting meetings or days with appropriate-to-the-workplace fun anecdotes, jokes or stories can set a tone that encourages happiness.

Managers Can Help:  Trusting and supportive relationships start with the manager.  Train the managers  to create an engaging, supportive and productive environment that enhances happiness.

Do you know what your level of employee engagement is?  ASE makes employee engagement surveys available to its members in collaboration with its partner McLean and Company. Contact us for more information on how these tools can help you evaluate your organization’s engagement. 

Sources: warwick.ac.uk; HBR.org; Forbes.com; inc.com; Fastcompany.com

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