Happiness – a new business imperative

We are in the midst of a global paradigm shift in which the happiness of teams, and the people that comprise them, is driving greater performance.

Happiness in the workplace is driving greater performance.

On March 20 each year, the world celebrates UN International Day of Happiness, the aim being to make people around the world realise the importance of happiness within their lives.

Back in 2021, when the world was held in the grip of the Covid pandemic and the great resignation that followed, I published a piece titled ‘Strong teams start with happy individuals’.

The premise was clear yet largely anecdotal, I suggested that leaders need to ensure the happiness of their team members to both earn and maintain their loyalty.

Fast forward almost 2 years, and there is an increasing body of evidence that happiness is becoming a business imperative, underscoring the hypothesis of my humble blog, that when employees are happy, organizations thrive.

The happiness dividend

Let’s look at some evidence.

In a study conducted by Warwick University, more than 700 participants were ‘made happier’ using what I’d call cheap tricks like watching a comedy clip or being given drinks and snacks. However, the study found that happy employees were up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees. When it came to salespeople, happiness had an even greater impact, raising sales by 37%. They also found that the converse was true. Unhappy people were less productive.

According to this article in Forbes, the stock prices of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work for” rose 14% per year from 1998 to 2005, while companies not on the list only reported a 6% increase. Again, happier workers were more productive.

How to be a happier employee

The Forbes article suggests few techniques for employees to be happier at work;

  1. Engage with happy people – some people are happier than others, so go out and find them.
  2. Be responsible for your happiness – take control of your own happiness and invest in wellness programs.
  3. Foster meaningful relationships – people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work (see Gallup reference below).

At Aprais, we focus on building stronger business relationships, so the third point really struck a chord.

Who you work with matters. Not just people in your own company, but colleagues in supplier relationships too.

A friend in need is a friend indeed

Gallup has repeatedly shown that having best friends at work is key to employee engagement and job success. Gallup data indicate that having a best friend at work is strongly linked to business outcomes, including profitability, safety, inventory control and retention.

Employees who have a best friend at work are significantly more likely to:

  • Engage customers and internal partners
  • Get more done in less time
  • Support a safe workplace with fewer accidents and reliability concerns
  • Innovate and share ideas
  • Have fun while at work

Gallup recommends that leaders proactively encourage friendships at work by creating interactive opportunities for friendships to blossom.

Again, this wisdom and the benefits derived, can be applied whether the individuals are internal reports or external teams, as is the case between marketer teams and their advertising agencies.

Camille Preston, PhD, PCC, author of the Forbes article cited above suggest leaders should: “Build teams that foster friendships and use your current team members to tap new talent. If a member of your team has a strong working relationship with a former colleague and friend, don’t hesitate to bring that individual on board. Good people surround themselves with good people”.

The flip side of happiness

As companies take increasing responsibility for the mental wellness of their employees it is important to also consider the alternative to happiness among and between teams.

It stands to reason that if happy teams are comprised of happy people – and that they are more productive ­– then then opposite must also be true.

un happy worker

Researchers in the field of positive psychology found that happiness is generally a feeling of satisfaction with life, and it turns out mental stability plays a part in achieving long-term happiness.

I love the personal mantra of Camille Preston who says; “I want to do work that I love, from places I love and with people I enjoy”.

Who doesn’t?

We are in the midst of a global paradigm shift where the happiness of teams, and the people that comprise them, is driving greater performance.

Watch this space, Aprais will soon release research that shows happy people = happy teams = better work.