It makes sense that happy workers are more productive workers. But in the research world, those ideas of happiness and productivity have never been linked conclusively – until now. “There has never been such strong evidence,” of such a connection, said economist Jan-Emmanual de Neve in a release. de Neve was the lead author of a new study, which was led by the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, UK, in collaboration with British multinational telecoms firm BT Telecom.
In short: it was found that happy workers are 13% more productive than unhappy ones.
The research was conducted in the call centers of British telecoms firm BT over a six month period.
The BT workers were asked to rate their happiness on a weekly basis for six months using an email survey containing five emoji buttons representing their level of happiness.
The researchers then compared the workers’ happiness data against the analytics that BT used to measure their workers’ productivity: call length, the percentage of calls converted into sales, and if the employees stuck to their work schedule. Researchers also followed information on worker attendance, the number of hours worked, breaks, and customer satisfaction.
“We found that when workers are happier, they work faster by making more calls per hour worked and, importantly, convert more calls to sales,” said Professor De Neve.
The researchers found that workers were on average 13% more productive during weeks when they self-reported as being very happy, compared to those weeks when people reported being very unhappy.
Having happy employees is not only good for well-being, but it’s ultimately good for the bottom line, noted researchers.
“There seems to be considerable room for improvement in the happiness of employees while they are at work,” said Professor De Neve. “While this clearly in the interest of workers themselves, our analysis suggests it is also in the interests of their employers.”
It should be noted that researchers found that happy workers do not actually produce more work – they are just more productive with their time.
Researchers contributing to this study include Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve (Saïd Business School, University of Oxford) George Ward (MIT) and Clement Bellet (Erasmus University Rotterdam).