Take a look around your office and consider for a moment who appears to be the happiest?
- the fat cat boss, earning a six-figure salary while sitting in his ivory tower?
- the middle manager who is forever ‘firefighting’ and filling in endless paperwork?
- the employee with a clearly defined task who is quietly and efficiently working on it?
- the sandwich delivery man who hand-makes his food and personally delivers it?
If you answered 3. or 4., congratulations – you already know that happiness at work is not linked to power, money, or position in the office, but directly linked to productivity.
The interesting question is which comes first?
Do you need to be happy to be productive, or does being productive make you happy? A report out by a team of economists from Warwick Business School has found that happiness can have a direct affect on productivity at work. Headed up by Andrew Oswald, a professor of economics and a leading authority on the relationship between economics and mental health, the research has important implications for the world of politics and business. “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity,” the team said. “Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings, while negative emotions have the opposite effect.”
Tests carried out by the team included asking students to watch comedy films and to perform small tasks. The findings showed that among the subjects who reported higher happiness levels after seeing the comedy film, productivity was significantly higher than for the other subjects, for both men and women. This prompted the team to report that ‘happier workers were 12% more productive. Unhappier workers were 10% less productive.’
If this sounds like we all need to go to work buoyed up on happy pills, don’t worry. There is evidence to suggest that the equation works in reverse too and that simply being productive at work can in turn increase your happiness.
Graham is a self-employed project manager who works on large projects for a number of clients. He has to manage a busy work schedule, but it’s one that brings him great satisfaction and joy. “I really enjoy my work even though it’s busy and stressful,” he says. “I’ve got about eight projects on the go at any one time, all for high-end clients. The great thing is that what I do is tangible – I organise events or retail builds for clients, so each project has a start, middle and end.”
Graham hasn’t always been this enthusiastic in previous jobs. “Before this I worked for an American pharmaceutical company. On paper it seemed like the ideal job – good pay, working autonomously from home, not particularly high stress levels. But I was miserable. The problem was it was poorly managed and trying to achieve anything was nigh on impossible.” For Graham, simply being busy and productive at work has meant that his enjoyment of his job has increased significantly.
Whether happiness creates productivity or productivity creates happiness, the findings can have a huge impact on your future career prospects: after all, we’re all chasing that one huge dream – how to be happy at work – and now the answer might just be within our reach!
Would you like to be happier in your next job? Take Jobsite’s free Personal Profile test and get 4 personalised reports that will help you to be happier at work.
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