New study shows we work harder when we are happy

Happiness makes people more productive at work, according to the latest research from the University of Warwick.

Economists carried out a number of experiments to test the idea that happy employees work harder. In the laboratory, they found happiness made people around 12% more productive.

Professor Andrew Oswald, Dr Eugenio Proto and Dr Daniel Sgroi from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick led the research.

This is the first causal evidence using randomized trials and piece-rate working. The study, to be published in the Journal of Labor Economics, included four different experiments with more than 700 participants.

During the experiments a number of the participants were either shown a comedy movie clip or treated to free chocolate, drinks and fruit. Others were questioned about recent family tragedies, such as bereavements, to assess whether lower levels of happiness were later associated with lower levels of productivity.

Professor Oswald said: “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.”

Dr Sgroi added: “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.”

Dr Proto said the research had implications for employers and promotion policies.

He said: “We have shown that happier subjects are more productive, the same pattern appears in four different experiments. This research will provide some guidance for management in all kinds of organizations, they should strive to make their workplaces emotionally healthy for their workforce.”

4 COMMENTS

  1. This article mentions an important fact that most people have not realized yet.

    Happiness gives a person a positive outlook on the world. If you are unhappy, you tend focus on the negative factors in your life. You would then feel that your work is uninteresting and you do not enjoy being at work.

    In contrast, happiness will provide the means for you to tackle your work with enthusiasm. This will lead to more effectiveness in the work place, as mentioned in the article. If you are effective, then the workload will become less. Happiness also provides the opportunity to complete the work to the best of your ability.

    Studies have shown that times when you are stressed you have less energy to use for activities, because your energy is drained by different factors in your body. Therefore it is clear that you would have more energy when you are happy and relaxed to complete your work activities.

    This means that we need to focus on the things that make us happy in life, so that we can be effective in our work activities.

  2. I think this study confirms what many people already knew, and it doesn’t just apply to the workplace. People are more willing to engage in something that brings them fulfillment and satisfaction, opposed to something that is tedious and stressful. Stress and unhappiness is one of the causes for procrastination, and procrastination decreases productivity. I honestly think Google is a shining example of a company that recognises that a happy worker is a productive worker, motivating its employees to not only work effectively, but work with enthusiasm that will drive their company forward. Hopefully, other companies will follow suit.

  3. No matter the emotional health a workplace exudes, if a person is unhappy with their job, i.e. their work position, they will strive for the happiness of being in a better position. The other likely event is that a person can be unhappy with the work place but happy with their field of work, thus they will work hard at finding a different place of employment. Humans strive for personal happiness overall as the work sphere and home sphere are experienced in the same person. This means that no matter how wonderful managers make a working environment, if the worker’s home environment is not doing so well, the worker will bring the home emotions into the work environment.

    So yes, is it possible for happiness to initially promote productivity in the sense that a person is willing to work, but in the same sense an unhappy person will have a greater need to achieve happiness and therefore have a greater level of productivity.

    And yes, a counter argument could be that an unhappy person could become so depressed that they give up and lose sight of their purpose but a happy person also runs the risk of not having any more goals as they have already achieved their goal and thus become less productive and greedy.

    There needs to be a higher goal, a purpose, as a person without a purpose becomes obsolete and becomes a consumer and not a producer and ends up tipping the scales as the input-output-system that runs society becomes unbalanced.
    So is it not possible to consider that happiness may not be the best driving force for productivity but rather unhappiness with the dream of happiness.

    In saying that, one must consider that a happy person will be productive to achieve the higher goal thus achieving a greater sense of happiness but it still means that no matter what one’s initial state of mind was, as long as the end goal is happiness, one’s initial state by comparison will be defined as unhappiness.

    In conclusion, yes happiness has the possibility to lead to productivity but it can also lead to a person becoming less productive and becoming greedy whereas an unhappy person will have a higher level of productivity, if given the opportunity to become happy, in comparison to the happy person’s level of productivity.

  4. This article mentions an important fact that most people have not realized yet.

    Happiness gives a person a positive outlook on the world. If you are unhappy, you tend focus on the negative factors in your life. You would then feel that your work is uninteresting and you do not enjoy being at work.

    In contrast, happiness will provide the means for you to tackle your work with enthusiasm. This will lead to more effectiveness in the work place, as mentioned in the article. If you are effective, then the workload will become less. Happiness also provides the opportunity to complete the work to the best of your ability.

    Studies have shown that times when you are stressed you have less energy to use for activities, because your energy is drained by different factors in your body. Therefor it is clear that you would have more energy when you are happy and relaxed to complete your work activities.

    This means that we need to focus on the things that make us happy in life, so that we can be effective in our work activities.

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