Are Happy Workers More Productive?

by Ray B Williams

Are happy workers more productive? Should employers and managers hire people that are more positive and happy?

These questions have occupied researchers and psychologists in recent years in an attempt to provide definitive evidence of a link between happy workers and greater productivity. Since 2006, conferences attracting hundreds of experts on the topic have been held worldwide as researchers consider whether employers and managers should hire people that are more positive and happy and whether they should be creating the kind of conditions that enhance worker happiness.

In my National Post column titled Put On a Happy Face, Pile on the Profits (Oct. 31, 2007), I cited research that shows a 1% positive increase in a worker's relationship with the boss is equal to a 30% increase in salary. Psychologists and researchers from around the world, including studies by Ed Denener, Martin Seligman, Daniel Goleman, Stephen Post, Ruut Veenhoven and John Helliwell have all concluded the following:

*Creating conditions under which workers feel happy about their work results in greater productivity and other positive work behaviours.

* Happy individuals are more likely than their less happy peers to have fulfilling, positive relationships, superior work performance and robust health.

* Happier people tend to get better performance evaluations and higher pay.

In my two decades of working with senior managers -- including chief executives -- focusing on developing productive workplaces, employee motivation and peak performance, it is clear the vast majority of happy people get more enjoyment from their jobs, are less likely to be bored and enjoy better relationships with their superiors and peers.

They tend also to have more mastery over themselves and their surroundings in order to achieve their goals. They are more serious, intentional and organized about accomplishments and are persistent, autonomous and responsible.

So the question becomes are workers happy as a result of satisfying work, or are they happy to begin with and therefore become more productive employees? In a similar vein, are people happy because they have attained a certain level of wealth, success and status, or have they attained those things because they are happier and more satisfied with themselves? In other words is it correlation or cause and effect that creates happiness?

In my experience, and it's being borne out by recent research, happy people become more successful and productive. People's success in life, rather than being the cause for happiness, as we commonly think in our society, just may be the outcome of happiness. And that success includes being a more productive worker.

In a competitive global economy in which companies are struggling to survive and succeed, recruitment, retention and engagement of the top talent have become critical management challenges. If happy workers are more productive workers, it is incumbent upon employers and their managers to make a happy frame of mind a criteria for hiring, and also create working conditions that encourage happiness. Consider it one of the most significant strategies for improving bottom-line performance.

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About Ray B Williams

Ray B Williams is Co-Founder of Success IQ University a company based in Phoenix, Arizona providing the most innovative products and services to help professionals, entrepreneurs and business owners be more successful in life and work.

Ray is also President of Ray B Williams Associates, a company based in Vancouver B.C., providing executive coaching services.

Ray has been a CEO, HR executive, management consultant and executive coach and leadership trainer for over thirty years, working with leaders throughout the world. He is also a Certified Hypnotherapist and Master NLP Coach. Ray has written two books books on leadership and writes a regular column for the National Post, Fast Company and Psychology Today.

Ray is in demand as a speaker, coach, trainer, consultant and author throughout North America.

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Recent articles by Ray B Williams

Feb 13, 2010 How to motivate employees: What do we know?
Feb 13, 2010 What do Baby Boomers want from technology?
Dec 25, 2009 Tiger Woods and our obsession with celebrities
Dec 25, 2009 Why Smiling Can Make You Happier
Dec 25, 2009 Global Survey Reveals Happiness Gaps Between Men and Women
View all of Ray B Williams's articles »
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