Happy employees are more productive at work, according to a new study by health and performance experts Global Corporate Challenge (GCC). The GCC Insights report found the link after surveying employees from 500 organizations in 70 countries.
The findings confirm the role emotions play in business, and that happiness is critical for productivity and talent retention and not a job perk or something that is just “nice to have.”
“The connection is clear: happy employees are high performing employees,” said Dr. Olivia Sackett, GCC Insight’s data scientist. “Leaders who understand this and initiate happy habits – like reflection, gratitude and mindfulness – can reap the rewards from a more productive workforce.”
Despite this, the modern workplace appears to be stifling happiness, not promoting it. A joint study by the University of Sussex and the London School of Economics found that being at work reduced employee happiness by up to 8 percent – second only to being sick. And more than half of U.S. employees (68 percent) are disengaged, according to Gallup.
GCC’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Batman said that although intangible, negative emotions can damage a business’s bottom line.
“Managers need to remember that an employee’s psychological health can impact their physical health,” he said. “This may manifest through stomach and heart complaints, backache and headaches. In turn, these may lead to reduced performance, increased absence and high levels of staff turnover.”
Given the stakes, Batman urged employers to look for signs of discontent long before they spiral into resignations.
“Interpersonal relationships often provide key insights into whether employees are happy or not,” Batman said. “So leaders should look around their teams; if there’s a continual lack of collaboration, or tension and conflict, then these may be signs that all isn’t well.”
Batman also had comforting words for leaders prepared to start a conversation about happiness, but who were concerned about facing skepticism from employees.
“Work is absolutely an appropriate place to talk about happiness,” he said. “As we outline in the study, happiness is a healthy habit. So just as workplace wellbeing strategies create opportunities to manage stress and improve psychological wellbeing, so too should they provide opportunities to be positive.
Reflecting on achievement, practicing gratitude and saying thanks are small things, Batman acknowledged, but, he added, “Our findings show they add up to a big difference.”