Why happy workers are more productive

  • Performance
  • By Aleks Szymanski
  • Published on March 20

While improving sales and attracting more customers usually sit at the top of business agendas, employee happiness shouldn’t be neglected. Happy workers are often more productive, with positive emotions leading to better levels of staff performance, which can only benefit companies as a whole.

The link between worker happiness and productivity

Considering the average person spends 81,396 hours (the equivalent of over nine years) at work, stressing the importance of people being happy with their roles seems like stating the obvious. Yet when employees feel content and satisfied in their jobs, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated. In turn, this emotional well-being can result in increased productivity and efficiency within the workplace.

Factors influencing worker happiness

Many factors contribute to worker happiness, including a supportive work environment, recognition of achievements, opportunities for growth, and work-life balance. If these elements are present, employees are more likely to experience job satisfaction - and overall happiness.

People’s priorities have evolved over time, with their lifestyles taking precedence over what they do for a living. This was evident in comprehensive research from MIT revealing people’s health and happiness at work is not simply an afterthought; it is actually a key driver in any decision to take, stay in, or leave a job. 

The role of management

Of course, being happy at work benefits employees and employers. In fact, research conducted by Oxford University's Saïd Business School found a causal link between happy workers and a 13% increase in productivity.  

Management plays a crucial role in fostering this staff happiness. The most effective leaders prioritize employee well-being, provide clear communication, and offer support and guidance when needed. Managers can successfully boost employee morale and productivity by ensuring they create a positive work culture. 

Benefits of worker happiness

Happy workers tend to be more creative, collaborative, and innovative. They are also likely to have lower stress levels and absenteeism, leading to a more positive work environment overall. Plus, happiness in their roles should mean they take fewer coffee breaks and trips to the bathroom just to get away from their desks. Additionally, satisfied employees are more likely to stay with their current employer, reducing turnover rates and recruitment costs.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for unhappy employees, who are usually stressed out, unsatisfied, and easily distracted from their work. So, for any employer keeping a watchful eye on their bottom line, the simple fact that happy employees tend to be more productive should be reason enough to invest in their well-being.

Making workers even happier

Employers can help enhance worker happiness even further by implementing wellness programs, offering flexible work options, providing opportunities for professional development, and recognizing employee contributions. Organizations can create a more productive and successful workforce by investing in employee well-being.

According to data from Great Places to Work, employees are three times more likely to experience well-being if they work in a fun environment. This particular study indicated those who experience fun at work are 190% to 220% more likely to have higher levels of well-being. 

Other drivers found to boost levels of happiness among workers include taking pride in one’s accomplishments, receiving a fair share of the profits, and having the ability to take time off.

Worker happiness is closely linked to productivity, and satisfied employees often perform better in their roles. By prioritizing worker happiness and creating a positive—and fun—work environment, organizations can reap the benefits of a more engaged and efficient workforce.