We’d like to share an article written by Gina Fiorella Noboa for our student challenge. The article explores why happy employees result in productive employees and provides tips on how to turn employees into a valuable asset.


Why do happy employees result in productive employees?

Happiness is an emotion, a positive one. When people have positive emotions they broaden their focus, expand their thinking, and learn better. That is why happiness should have an important consideration in every company.
According to a 2011 Harvard Business Review article, “the level of happiness has a profound impact on workers’ creativity, productivity, commitment and collegiality”. These are all qualities that add value to a company. After all, if employees are happy, the company will be, too.

Unfortunately, however, sometimes people are not happy in their workplace. Why is this? This may be due to their role and responsibilities, their relationships, their salary, their work-life balance and/or their benefits and incentives. No matter what the cause, there are some signals employees display that demonstrate their low commitment to the company. These include less production, a rough attitude, higher absences, and low-quality work. Naturally, all of these behaviors negatively impact the company’s performance.

A happy work environment has the power to alter employees’ mood and their production and a validated exemplification of that is Google.

How can you turn your employees into a valuable asset?

Current American Psychological Association research findings show that people want contentment, love, and happiness derived from meaningful work. They want nourishing personal relationships, a healthy mind and body, a spiritual core and a reason for living.

With this in mind, there are five life factors that help employees achieve satisfaction and efficiency in their workplace:

1. Role and Responsibility: Leaders must ensure that employees understand how their individual achievements contribute to the organization’s overall strategy and direction in whatever role they are. People want to be part of a winning team and have responsibilities that contribute to the company’s progress. Employees will take pride and be engaged in their work if they understand how their efforts impact the organization.

2. Relationships with colleagues: Employees that have good relations and have friends at their workplace tend to be more motivated and eager to wake up and go to work. As Harvard researchers Phil Stone and Tal Ben-Shahar found, workers with strong relationships with co-workers are actually better at staying engaged and performing under stress.

3. Salary: Employees that earn more are able to have a better standard of living and strengthen their purchasing power. These factors directly affect their needs. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, they will not longer need to work to simply satisfy their basic survival needs. Instead, they will aspire for more. As financial stress disappears, employees will have the opportunity to focus on excelling at work to climb higher on a personal level.

TIP: Pay by hour not by salary. 

“Being paid by the hour promotes a chronic economic evaluation of time, making this information salient to an individual’s evaluation of his/her happiness”.
-DeVoe and Pfeffer

4. Work-life Balance: Personal and work lives are not mutually exclusive; in reality, they influence each other. When work becomes stressful due to demanding tasks or extra work hours are needed, employees get frustrated and they pass this irritation on to their personal lives. When things start to deteriorate at home, on the other hand, people can’t shut off these feelings once they get to work. This makes it difficult to remain productive, clear-headed and focus on work (The Huffington Post, 2017).

5. Benefits and incentives: Having benefits and incentives will increase employee engagement in the company. According to a Gallup Poll, nearly 70% of all employees are disengaged, leaving only about one-third of the workforce actively participating in their jobs at full production. In order to encourage more engagement, employers should:

  • Incentivize employees by offering them opportunities to enhance their career, such as: trainings, coaching, mentorship, promotions, and relocations.
  • Develop a corporate culture where worker prosperity is advanced and polished all the time. This may include developing programs for decreasing stress and anxiety and enhancing work-life balance.
  • Provide remote work arrangements where mobile-friendly options come into play like: holding meetings offsite and using technology to communicate. Furthermore, having flexible time-off policies contributes to a better work-life balance.All these factors enrich employees’ work life and – in consequence – their personal life, too. They help employees to truly commit to the business, which means they actively contribute creative ideas and suggestions that may benefit the whole business. Plus, employees will also be absent less when they actually enjoy going to work. According to Forbes, “When team members are happy at work, they are better collaborators, work towards common goals, and are more innovative”.
  • Productive employees at the base of hefty profitsDid you know that a happy employee contributes an average of 31% higher productivity, 37% higher sales and three times more creativity?

Happy employees are a big value for any company, and economists from the University of Warwick agree. Their recent study reported that happiness led to a12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers demonstrated to be 10% less productive. The research they did concluded that “positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings”, and there’s no denying the truth of this.

As we already know, engagement and happiness are positively correlated. Gallup, a company that delivers analytics and advice to leaders and organizations, found through a survey that only 13% of employees are engaged at work. As a matter of fact, this costs US companies approximately $450-$550 billion annually. Investing in employees’ welfare and workplace happiness could prevent a tremendous unnecessary expense. As a result, employees will perform better and so will the company.

GOOGLE as an example of a great place to work

A good example of a company that has created a positive and creative workplace culture is Google. Things like staff perks such as pool tables, a bowling alley, massage rooms, and free food and gym memberships foster positivity and creativity. These positive emotions in turn lead to productivity, which in fact is 40% higher at Google than the average company. Actually, Google consequently has profit margins that are 30%-50% higher than industry averages.

Given these results, we can affirm that a happier workforce foments productivity and profitability. That’s why this well-known tech company even has people whose sole job is to keep employees happy and maintain productivity. Google cares a lot about its workers. Indeed, it even spends money to help new parents and offers them extra time off to look after their baby. This is how much they care about their people, and that’s why Google has been ranked the world’s best place to work.

In conclusion, the best way to enhance a company’s performance is by focusing on its employees. They are the pillars of the company and deserve to be treated as that. The workforce of a company is as important as sales and profits, so it should not be neglected. People are not robots; they’re not “human doings,” but “human beings” with emotions. In a business, these emotions are the cause of high or low productivity and therefore high or low profitability. Throughout this article, we’ve seen that an average business that doesn’t pay enough attention to boosting its employees’ welfare and workplace happiness has less chance to prosper compared to a company that does. Overall, productivity and profitability come directly from employees’ efficiency, which is directly influenced by their emotions.

So what are you waiting for?

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

-Walt Disney