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How Important is Happiness at Work?

Posted by Bob Corlett on August 31, 2010

Jessica Pryce-Jones, author of Happiness at Work and CEO of iOpener, is cited in a recent article about workplace happiness on Forbes.com. Pryce-Jones reports her research findings that “the happiest employees are 180% more energized than their less content colleagues, 155% happier with their jobs, 150% happier with life, 108% more engaged and 50% more motivated. Most staggeringly, they are 50% more productive too."

She writes that “happiness at work is closely correlated with greater performance and productivity as well as greater energy, better reviews, faster promotion, higher income, better health and increased happiness with life. So it's good for organizations and individuals, too."

So managers should get to work making employees happier, right?

Not so fast.  Wally Bock, in his Three Star Leadership blog, notes that “the key word in the above is "correlated." You will recall from your education that correlation does not mean causation.”

Bock’s bottom line to bosses: your job isn't to make people happy so they'll be productive. It's not to make them productive but not worry about their well-being, either. Your job is to do the things that create a human-friendly working environment where the team and team members are productive and morale is high.

Some scientists think that people have a "set point" for happiness that will not vary much depending on external circumstances.   If that's true, and if having happy employees is important to you, perhaps you should consider hiring people who happy to begin with.

I'm a happy person, an I like being surrounded by happy people.  But frankly I think all this happy talk is a distraction from simply managing performance.   I'll continue to focus on helping our clients hire people who are interested in, and capbable of driving the business results they need.  Then at least I know our placements will be successful and, hopefully,  our clients will be happy with us.

Topics: Employee Engagement