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There is a positive relationship between a happy workforce and staff performance
31 July 2017
More companies nowadays try to incorporate more fun elements in the workplace in order to increase organisational performance
The top best-to-work-for firms continuously outperform other firms each year, which suggests that there is a relationship between happier workers and performance. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, professor at the University of Oxford, argues that if companies want to increase organisational productivity, then they should invest in the well-being of their employees as it will be more than matched by increased productivity and performance.
Just over half of the UK workforce is happy at work and many companies are therefore taking measures to increase the level of happiness in their workforce.
Science of happiness
Happiness and reward circuits are activated in the limbic system when we feel supported or have good relationships. Increased levels of happiness of employees can strengthen their overall health, optimism and self-esteem and make them take pride in their role. According to Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, happy employees are more productive than unhappy employees by 7-12%.
What companies can do to make staff feel happier at work
Hire responsive managers
Companies should hire managers with good social and interpersonal skills, in order to understand their employees better and be more aware of their wellbeing. As a result, staff will feel more supported if they have someone they can talk to.
Improve the working environment
Companies can also invest in making the working environment as pleasant as possible for their staff. Interior design company Ambius concluded from several projects that enriched work environments improve productivity by 15%. Some managers tend to pay more attention to the costs of refurbishing or redecorating rather than seeing it as an investment in employees’ wellbeing. However, Ambius argues that spending money on making the working environment pleasant will likely lead to return on investment, as people will feel more inspired and work more effectively. For example, Google’s offices are often designed by their employees and the office in Zurich consists of slides and fireman poles and is an excellent example of how they have managed to incorporate fun elements into the workplace.
Not all organisations have a budget like Google, however there are small improvements that can be made which may have a positive impact on the productiveness of staff.
Does happiness always increase the level of productivity and performance?
There are certain aspects that speak against employee happiness equating increased performance. For some workers, being able to express both positive and negative emotions are important. People are likely to not feel happy all the time and if a project doesn’t go as expected, feeling disappointed or upset should be an acceptable response. Happiness is fluctuating and a bad day should not be included in your overall attitude towards your job, unless it tends to occur quite often and if it affects your job satisfaction. For example, if you are a surgeon or fire fighter, people might die right in front of you. Having the support from your team is therefore important in order to cope in difficult situations.
Moreover, happiness at work tend to be necessary for certain types of jobs, such as customer service, where staff are dealing with customers every day. It is necessary for them to hold a positive attitude, as it is likely to spread to customers and enhance the quality of the customer experience. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, is a known advocate of the Virgin philosophy which states that employees should be put first and customers second, as it will empower the employees and encourage them to treat customers in the same positive manner as they are being treated by their managers.
To conclude, not all jobs may be able to increase means of happiness at work to improve productivity. On the other hand, if employees are feeling miserable, employees are not likely to be productive and the company will see increased presenteeism, as well as decreased mental health of staff and burnouts. So even if happiness is not the first priority of your company, it should certainly not be the last.
Being happy at work can have a profoundly positive effect on your wellbeing. Don’t hesitate to contact Stafffinders if you are interested in finding a role that will help you progress.
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