People who feel happy, valued and satisfied at work typically do far better than those who do not. Happy employees are more engaged and likely go beyond their job requirements to give their best effort, working harder, more productively and more collaboratively than less satisfied peers. This translates directly into greater organisational productivity, better business performance and financial results that are sustainable over time.
Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, makes a compelling case that the greatest competitive advantage in today’s economy is a happy and engaged workforce. Some of the business outcomes he cites in an HBR blog are increasing sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%. A recent issue of the Harvard Business Review dedicated to happiness at work agrees: “emerging research makes the link between a thriving workforce and better business performance absolutely clear. Happiness can have an impact at both the company and the country level.“
By understanding the science of positive psychology and how to apply it, businesses can take a far more targeted approach to performance and engagement. For example, a global study by the Corporate Leadership Council of almost 20,000 people across multiple organisations, industries and countries found that when people were encouraged to focus on their strengths, their performance rose a massive 36%. When they focused on weaknesses, performance dropped by 27%. Strengths use is a core predictor of workplace engagement—the most engaged employees are the ones who use their strengths at work most of the time. This engagement in turn predicts a range of business outcomes. Consider the tangible impact of using positive, strengths-based approaches to get the best from people.
“The evidence is overwhelming that experiencing and expressing positive emotions and moods tends to enhance performance at individual, group and organisation levels.”
Barsade and Gibson, 2007