The link between staff morale and workplace productivity has been explored in depth over recent years, yet all too many business owners still fail to properly consider the happiness of their workforce, while others afford it due thought but falter somewhat in the execution.

In an effort to better understand the driving forces behind staff happiness and the resultant effect on productivity, researchers and economists from the University of Warwick conducted an extensive study into human happiness, finding that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive.

The research team explains, “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.”

Professor Andrew Oswald, one of three researchers tasked with leading the study, said of the results, “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.”

According to research team member Dr Eugenio Proto, the primary driving factor behind the resulting productivity boost is that happier workers will use their time more effectively, which thereby increases their work rate without making sacrifices in terms of quality. The study lists further positive attributes displayed by happy workers as follows:
  • Improved collaboration with other workers
  • Heightened creativity, energy, motivation, optimism, and overall health
  • Improved problem solving & fewer complaints
  • Fewer mistakes and lessened worry
  • Improved rate of learning
  • Better decision-making skills
Multiple factors emerged as those responsible for driving employee happiness, with some surprising inclusions and omissions. For example, salary ranked surprisingly low in terms of influence on employee happiness; that doesn’t mean you can underpay your staff, but other considerations may be more important.

Factors which were found to correlate most heavily with workforce happiness include job level, company size, and rewarding fields of work. In terms of job level, senior executives and managers ranked highest as you may expect, although the findings in relation to company size may surprise you as those working in companies with fewer than 10 employees actually ranked highest for happiness. In reference to rewarding fields of work, those in the “education and training” and “marketing or creative” fields reported the highest levels of on-the-job happiness.

Other influencing factors include:
  • Autonomy
  • Challenging work
  • Variety & flexibility
  • Recognition & progression
  • Support & opportunity
  • Fairness
  • A sense of belonging
  • Workplace perks (free lunches, on-site facilities etc.)
By paying careful attention to your staff and their needs you can provide your company with a substantial productivity boost for little-to-no monetary expense, and with the UK still suffering from some of the lowest productivity rates in Europe, the importance of this fact cannot be overstated.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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