Ever heard the saying “Employees don’t work hard because they’re happy. They’re happy because they’re working hard”? Because in most work environments, small business owners, bosses and team leaders understand that, theoretically, a happy employee is a productive employee. But a recent study found that things that make employees happy, don’t necessarily lead to more productivity.
Over the past three years, using an app called Track Your Happiness, Harvard researcher Matthew A. Killingsworth has been compiling 250,000 data points from 2,250 users who have been entering their happiness ratings via the app on a daily, and hourly basis.
From a write-up about the study: Mind-wandering is an excellent predictor of people’s happiness. In fact, how often our minds leave the present and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged.
The research revealed that only about 4.6 percent of a person’s happiness could be directly attributed to what they were doing at that very moment. In contrast to the 10.6 percent happiness felt during those moments when one’s mind is wandering.
So, with this study in mind, here are four strategies you can employ to keep your employees happy:
1. Don’t overload people with work. When people feel like they are buried, they often focus more on how much work they have to do rather than the obvious task at hand.
2. Don’t underwhelm people with work. When people have too little work to do, they often find other things that occupy them that aren’t inherently productive, or worse, counter-productive.
3. Get rid of work distraction. Reduce noise levels. Keep peoples’ work areas separate. Eliminate aspects of the job that don’t directly correlate with the work being done.
4. Implement work/life balance policies. Keep work hours as flexible as possible. Make sure your sick time (and personal day) policies are liberal so that workers can manage their own problems on their own time and focus on doing the work for you when they are there.
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