Posted on Sunday, May 27th, 2012 at 12:01

The value of happiness
– how employee well-being drives profits

Harvard Business Review had a section on happiness in its Jan-Feb 2012 issue. I strongly recommend everyone who is interested in growing profits, reading it! Below find a summary of the aspects that resonated with me.

This is what Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert had to say:

By and large happy people are more creative and more productive. Some managers think that contented people aren’t the most productive employees, so they prefer to keep the employees a bit anxious about their jobs. However, there is no data showing that anxious, fearful employees are more creative or productive. Contentment doesn’t mean sitting and staring at wall. That’s what people do when they are bored, and people hate being bored!

We know that people are happiest when appropriately challenged – when they are trying to achieve goals that are difficult but not out of reach. Challenge and threat are not the same thing. Psychologists have studied reward and punishment for a century, and the bottom line is perfectly clear: Reward works better.

If I had to summarize all the scientific literature on the causes of human happiness in on word, that word would be “social”. We are by far the most social species on Earth. If I want to predict your happiness, and I could know only one thing about you, I wouldn’t want to know your gender, religion, health, or income. I’d want to know about your social network – about your friends and family and the strength of your bonds with them.  So, cultivating a good spirit and remembering how important the social connections are also in the workplace really matters. Not to mention a balanced life where you have time for your other social networks as well.

In one of the other articles it was said that “In a meta-analysis of 225 academic studies, Sonja Lyubomirsky, Laura King, and Ed Diener found that happy employees have on average, 31 % higher productivity; their sales are 37% higher and their creativity is three times higher”

Research shows that when people work with a positive mindset, performance on nearly every level improves. Yet happiness is perhaps the most misunderstood driver of performance. For one, most people believe that success precedes happiness. “Once I get a promotion, I’ll be happy,” they think. Or, “Once I hit my sales target, I’ll feel great.” But because success is a moving target – as soon as you hit your target, you raise it again – the happiness that results from success is fleeting. In fact, it works the other way round: People who cultivate a positive mind-set perform better in face of a challenge.

When reading the article, remember that positivity is not about ignoring the facts or ignoring the things that suck, but ALSO seeing what is good and what is done well. We are encouraged to cultivate positive emotions like gratitude, joy, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement and inspiration. Training your brain to be positive is not so different from training your muscles at gym. If you want to get fit, you just need to do it!

Leave a Reply