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Think Workplace Happiness is All Fluff? Here’s 10 Facts to Prove you Wrong!

Let me introduce you to an equation that I like to use with clients when trying to identify organisational development needs, or more specifically when people are trying to define human potential to get the ‘best’ out of their workforce in order to increase performance and productivity.

Exceptional Ability x Increased Motivation x Positive Work Environment = Outstanding Performance and Productivity™

It’s something I adapted from years of working in the industry. I use it when I sit down with leaders who are perplexed by human behaviour and motivation and want to know “how on earth can I get the best out of my people?” We use the equation as a starting point, and I’ve yet to see it fail!

For argument’s sake, let’s highlight one part of the equation; increased motivation. It is important to understand that you cannot actually motivate people, the horse can be led to water, but only the horse can make itself drink. That’s why the ‘carrot and stick’ reward/ punishment system so commonly used in organisations does very little to motivate people or change behaviour. It is therefore crucial to tap into the internal drive of people. This is why, I believe, 87% of the world’s workforce is disengaged at work; we’ve relied on outdated ways of motivating people. For example, one carrot we typically dangle is a pay rise, and understandably so. People deserve more money for more productivity. But a pay rise in itself has very little effect on long term motivation, that is if people are unhappy at work, you are affectively just putting yourself in the situation where you risk having nothing but a highly paid, unhappy workforce! And that means potential lost.

Happiness is a huge driver for motivation. Ever seen an unhappy, disengaged employee giving it their all, working well in a team and being a positive influence on others around them? Didn’t think so. So, let’s get more happy into the workplace. No, not the sappy post-hippy folk songs or other forms of gratuitous happiness…….I’m talking about what makes people tick……and sometimes we call this engagement.

Happiness and engagement at work go hand in hand. It’s almost impossible to be engaged and unhappy at the same time. 

So why is all of this so important? Well here are 10 compelling facts to support the business case for happiness and engagement in the workplace……

1.      Compared with disengaged employees, highly empowered and engaged employees are 480% more committed to helping their company succeed. (Temkin, Employee Engagement Benchmark Study 2012)

2.      Happier workers experience 37% more sales and are 31% more productive than unhappy workers. (Shawn Achor, Happiness Advantage, 2010)

3.      Happy employees are more creative. Happier people are three times more creative than unhappy people. (Sonja Lyubormirsky and Ed Diener, Harvard Business Review, 2012).

4.      Happy employees are more innovative. Higher levels of engagement are strongly related to higher levels of innovation. 59% of engaged employees say that their job brings out their most creative ideas against only 3% of disengaged employees. (Gallup)

5.      Companies with engaged people make more money. Engaged organizations grew profits as much as three times faster than their competitors. They report that highly engaged organizations have the potential to reduce staff turnover by 87% and improve performance by 20%. (Corporate Leadership Council) A 1% increase in employee commitment can lead to a monthly increase of 9% in sales. (IES)

6.      Engaged people create happier customers. Increased employee engagement was accompanied by a 12% increase in customer satisfaction and significant double‐digit revenue and margin growth over the past three years. (Serco Study)

7.      Happier people stay. Happy employees stay twice as long in their jobs as unhappy employees. (iopener Institute 2013). The cost of annual U.S. employee turnover is $11 billion (Bureau of National Affairs)

8.      Engaged, happy employees show up more. According to a Gallup poll, companies with large numbers of dissatisfied workers experience greater absenteeism and lower productivity. The most telling figure was the amount of turnover these employers experience which was 51% higher than their peers. Effective engagement strategies should target on-the-job satisfaction as a way to reduce turnover and maintain smooth workflows. (Gallup)

9.      Less stressed workers are happier and healthier. Increased levels of job stress as assessed by the perception of having little control but lots of demands have been demonstrated to be associated with increased rates of heart attack, hypertension and other disorders. Job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems. (The American Institute of Stress)

10.  Engaged, happy employees are safer. Higher employee engagement resulted in a 50% reduction in reportable accidents from 18% to 9% over a two-year period. (Babcock Marine Clyde)

Steve Morris is Director of Morris Consulting Group (www.mcgnz.com) and Cross Cultural TransitioNZ (www.cctnz.co.nz) and is an expert in the field of human potential. He believes that the key to human performance is creating positive environments where people are engaged and motivated.

He is also a licensed Cross-Cultural Consultant through the Inter Change Institute, Boston USA and is a member of the New Zealand Association of Positive Psychology.

*Many thanks to ThriveatWork.com for supplying much of the factual data.


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