The relation between happiness at work and productivity

Jessica Pryce-Jones has researched the relation between happiness at work and productivity, absenteeism and turnover. Her research shows that the happiest employees:

  • are twice as productive
  • remain in the organization five times longer (so less turnover), and
  • take ten times less sick leave

than the unhappiest employees. Jessica Pryce-Jones writes more about her research in a blog on the website of the Wall Street Journal. These data come from a research among 3000 respondents from 79 countries.

Also in a laboratory setting, the relation between happiness (at work) and productivity has been proven. The Warwick University has conducted an experiment in which half of the participants watched a comedy show, while enjoying fruit and chocolate. The other half of the participants were asked to share stories about unhappy events in their lives. Both groups were asked to perform certain tasks afterwards. The first group was 12% more productive than the second group. Read more about the Warwich experiment here.

In a meta-analysis of 111 studies, Ford has shown that there is an average to strong correlation between happiness (at work) and productivity. This research even found a stronger connection between happiness at work and productivity than between physical health and productivity. Read more about the Ford (2011) research here. This correlation between happiness at work (psychological wellbeing) and productivity is also proven by Wright en Cropanzano. Read more about Wright and Cropanzano’s research here.

The last research I mention here is a study among 66 Dutch institutions for home care by Taris en Schreurs (2009). They studied the correlation between happiness at work and overall performance of the organization (profitability), not just at the individual level. They also showed that there is a correlation between happiness at work and organizational performance. Particularly the reverse was a strong correlation: the unhappier employees were, the worse the organizational performance. Read more about the Taris and Schreurs research here.