Are Happy Offices More Productive?

Research by Warwick University found that happiness caused workers to be around 12% more productive. The study, published in the Journal of Labor Economics, confirmed what many happiness consultants already assumed. Researcher Dr. Sgroi said: “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.”

It’s well known that Scandinavian countries rank highly on happiness indexes. So much so, in fact, that they have a word for “happiness at work.” Arbejdsglæde, which translates literally to work/joy. Co.Exist reported that Danish workplaces have a long history of creating happiness for their employees. “To most Danes, a job isn’t just a way to get paid; [they] fully expect to enjoy [themselves] at work.” This is surely something that American workers can get behind.

Shawn Achor, author of ‘The Happiness Advantage’ found that our brains work far better when we’re feeling positive. He said: “Only 25 percent of job success is based upon IQ. Seventy-five percent is about how your brain believes your behavior matters, connects to other people, and manages stress.”

This enlightening research is fantastic but it begets the question: how can a workplace actually increase happiness? This is where it gets a little tricky. The spread of people that make up an office come from all kinds of backgrounds, they have different hobbies, and enjoy different things. Today, businesses are seeking out ways to increase happiness without making large investments, or disrupting the traditional workflow of an office environment. It gets trickier still when some of the best ways to increase happiness mostly involve small human interactions. Things like saying thank you, or putting your co-worker first and the work second; offering to help one and another or offering praise and giving credit to each member of a team during a meeting. But asking employees to do these things would seem strange and unnatural.

Don’t worry, there are high-level methods for businesses to inspire joy and trust for its workers. Dr. Nelson, a clinical psychologist and business consultant has this to say: “When employees feel that the company takes their interest to heart, then the employees will take company interests to heart.” Alongside this, having an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable suggesting out-of-the-box ideas and changes would lead to more overall happiness and even innovation. Most people believe that creativity is something that’s driven out of us the further we progress through school, higher education, and then into the workforce.

Many employees find that workplaces with strict rules and strange regulations (ones that often don’t make sense) stifle productivity, and also their overall happiness. If the majority of an office is in disagreement with work processes, listening and creating small changes could skyrocket happiness and productivity. Basically, treat your employees and co-workers like human beings, and be kind and polite. Most of all, foster creativity and don’t be afraid of change.


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