Experiments at the University of Warwick in the UK showed that happiness makes people approximately 12 percent more productive, according to research that will soon be published in the Journal of Labor Economics. In addition, researchers said, lower happiness — caused by “major real world shocks” like bereavement or illness in the family — was associated with lower productivity.
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Economists Andrew J. Oswald, Eugenio Proto, and Daniel Sgroi designed a series of four experiments to measure the relationship between worker happiness and productivity.
The first three involved randomly selected individuals who were given treats like chocolate, fruit, or drinks, or allowed to watch a comedy clip. The fourth involved individuals selected for their recent sad experiences, and measured their productivity during that tough time.
All told, 700 subjects participated in the series of experiments.
“These different forms of evidence, with complementary strengths and weaknesses, are consistent with the existence of a causal link between human well-being and human performance,” the researchers wrote.
This is significant, in light of the investment companies like Google make in worker happiness, the economists said.
“Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37 percent; they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off,” said Oswald.
What does this mean for you, the actual employee? Well, if you’re a manager, you can do your best to use your limited powers to make work a happier place for your reports, and know you’re legitimately doing the best thing for the company.
If you’re among the managed, on the other hand, just file this under data you can use to convince the boss to institute Ice Cream Mondays. It’s science!
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