A study at the University of Warwick involving over 700 participants found that happy employees are 12% more productive than those who are neutral or unhappy. Another study, published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, established that positive emotions positively affect individual performance at work. And, a study of 75 Directors employed in the private sector and the Canadian federal government predicted that happy people will be far more productive than neutral or unhappy people. This was published in the Journal of Happiness Studies. And, yes, there really is such an academic journal.
And the list goes on. In my research, I found a myriad of studies that confirm what we already know by intuition and common sense. Happy employees tend to produce more, stay longer and make greater contributions to their employers than do unhappy ones.
So, how do you nurture your happy employees so they will work at their best and stick around to do it?
Common sense says you should do whatever it takes to make your employees happy –
If that were the case, you might think the right strategy would be to double everyone’s pay, put beer taps at every workstation and take breaks to drink it every 10 minutes. Of course, you wouldn’t want to do that because after a while most of your team would get used to the increased pay and take it for granted. Many of your employees would get tired of the beer and the next-day hangovers. And, worst of all, those who take their work seriously would get frustrated because they couldn’t get anything done because their drunken coworkers were taking all those breaks to drink beer.
Happy Employees Work At Best Places To Work
So, what’s the secret to creating a culture where employees are happy at work and at the same time, not falling into the trap of just giving them things they may grow to take for granted, like raises, or not value at all, like beer stations? A good place to look is among companies that regularly appear on published Best Places To Work lists. Since these lists are created by comprehensive, scientific employee surveys, it’s a safe bet they are incubators of happy employees. There are many of these list sources from which to choose. Four of the most popular are:
• Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For
• Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work
• Forbes Best Employers
• Crain’s Best Places To Work
My goal in this, and future blog articles is to identify the managerial practices common to the uncommonly outstanding companies that land on these lists and to offer how Everyday Frontline Leaders like you can implement those practices on your own teams. You may be saying, “That’s nice to think about Larry, but those companies have visionary leaders with unlimited resources who have created such company-wide cultures.
“I, on the other hand, work for a company that doesn’t support anything of the sort: where profit is the only motive and employees are considered an expense rather than an asset.” Or, “I work in a government department where everyone comes to work, does their job and goes home. There’s no real incentive to do anything more than what we’re doing except rely on everyone’s dedication to public service.” What will I gain by reading these articles?
Your point is well taken. When your boss/manager/CEO sets a tone that celebrates employees and treats them right, it’s easy to implement the kind of management practices that support that tone. On the other hand, when the tone is neutral, less than supportive or downright hostile, you may have to modify the suggestions I will offer you to create a great place to work for your team. To manage in a way that creates a team of job loving happy employees who excel for you while the rest of your organization carries on as always. See Designing Work That People Love by Marcus Buckingham, Harvard Business Review.
This can have several benefits:
• Your team’s productivity will rise because members will work harder and do better work.
• Employee turn-over will decline because your team’s members will be happier and less likely to quit.
• The work will become less stressful for you because your team will be happier and easier to be around.
• Other managers may notice and start to change their management practices to mimic you.
• Your boss may notice, especially when your team’s performance begins to improve.
• You may get promoted because the performance of your team has become public.
• Your job satisfaction will rise, making you a happier person.
• The culture of your entire organization will be more likely to advance in a positive direction.
Change is hard
Of course, this won’t be easy. You may need to change how you lead your team. It will definitely require you to change the way you approach and respond to various situations at work. And it will most likely change the way you interact with your own management.
Unfortunately, as my past mentor, Harles Cone , used to say, “We always prefer the certainty of misery over the misery of uncertainty.” If you’ve ever tried to change your eating habits to lose weight you know how challenging it can be to change your own behavior, much less the behavior of others. Add to that: If the culture of your organization is set in its ways, you may only get passive support at best for managing differently; or you may get downright resistance if your boss is set against what you are doing.
Articles On Creating Happy Employees Coming
That’s why, in the articles to come, where I offer approaches to creating a vibrant, employee-centered team culture, I’ll also offer strategies to counter the resistance you may receive from your superiors, your colleagues, other employees, your human resource department and from yourself. For example, when it gets around that you are a great boss with whom it is fun to work, there will inevitably be other supervisors and managers who will be jealous of you or think you are molly coddling your employees. How will you deal with that?
I’ll offer specific tactics you can use to quell this jealousy. For example, offer the nay-sayers the opportunity to share in the glory of your successes. Share the credit so you make them look good too. This is also a great strategy for developing happy employes on your own team.
Today’s Tip On Creating Happy Employees:
See yourself a your team’s advertising agent. Make it a priority to brag on them as a group and on individual members of your team as often as you can. Your job is to make sure everyone gets credit for their contributions.
So stay tuned. I will notify you via email when I publish each article, listed as a “Management Tip,” so you can access it as you have this one. In the meantime, please check out my article “Retaining Employees: Step #1.”
 Sgroi, Daniel, “Happiness and productivity: Understanding the happy-productive worker Global Perspectives Series: Paper” 4, October 2015, http://www.smf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Social-Market-Foundation-Publication-Briefing-CAGE-4-Are-happy-workers-more-productive-281015.pdf#page=9
 Cameron, Kim1, Carlos Mora, Trevor Leutscher, and Margaret Calarco, “Effects of Positive Practices on Organizational Effectiveness,” The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 2011, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0021886310395514  Zalenski, John M., Steven A.
 Murray, David A. Jenkins, “The Happy-Productive Worker Thesis Revisited,” Journal of Happiness Studies, 28 February 2008, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-008-9087-4