How Happiness Impacts our Work
This is a guest post by Austin Farewell.
Many companies value productivity over employee satisfaction. This type of thinking is understandable—the companies are doing what they think will help them maximize profits.
But what if there was a way to achieve both? Because the satisfaction and general happiness of employees has a positive impact on their productivity, it’s indeed possible—and that’s a win-win.
According to this piece in Fortune, being happy at work can increase your productivity by anywhere from 12% to 20%.
As a writer, I’ve seen this in my own work. When I’m happy and content I often produce higher quality articles and get more writing done, while on days when I’m struggling emotionally, I often get little to no writing done.
Why does this happen?
According to researcher and author to Shawn Anchor, this occurs because the brain works much more efficiently when we’re happy. Workers who are happy are not only more productive but are also more creative and better at working with others.
Susan Reynolds, who has written several books about the brain, discusses this phenomenon in an article in Psychology Today.
According to Reynolds, being happy leads to a greater level of awareness, better critical thinking, and improved cognition. All of this has a direct impact on our productivity. According to Reynolds, “Neuroscientists have discovered that people who have a more cheerful disposition and are more prone to optimism generally have higher activity occurring in their left PFC.”
The PFC, or Prefrontal Cortex, is the part of the brain used when making decisions and performing many work tasks.
Now that we know how and why happiness affects our productivity, let’s talk about some ways we can increase our happiness in the workplace.
One small thing you can do is take more breaks. It may be helpful to practice the 50/10 principle: Work for a 50-minute span followed by a ten-minute break and continue this cycle throughout the workday.
According to a study conducted by the University of Warwick, another way to increase your happiness at work is to eat snacks during the workday.
The university gathered 148 working men and women for the experiment, half of them were given snacks and drinks while the other half were not. Each group was then given a series of math questions followed by a questionnaire. The treatment group (the one given snacks and drinks) performed 15% better than the control group (the one not given anything).
The control group was asked whether or not the gift of food and drinks made them happier and the overwhelming consensus was yes. Try bringing healthy snacks to work with you on a daily basis to help your happiness level. In another experiment done by the university, playing comedy clips for the treatment group raised their happiness and productivity.
Whether eating healthy snacks, watching comedy clips, taking a walk, reading an enjoyable book, or taking some time off to play video games, investing in happiness warrants the attention of both employees and employers.
Austin Farewell is a freelance writer, college student, and aspiring entrepreneur. He enjoys hip-hop music, films, and non-fiction books. You can check out his blog here and follow him on Twitter here.
What are your experiences with happiness at work? Join the conversation with your comments…