Updated: Jan 2, 2019
Employee happiness may not be something that you spend a lot of time thinking about, especially if you have a large company or if you're constantly busy, rushing to keep customers happy and ensure that they come back to your business. As it turns out, however, employee happiness may play a larger role in your business's productivity than you think. Studies consistently show that happy employees are more productive, more motivated, and more engaged at work--and that can have a significant impact on your overall profits.
The Cost of Unhappiness
51% of workers simply aren't engaged at work: they don't feel a deep, personal connection to their jobs, and they simply aren't giving it their best. Another 16% are actively disengaged: that is, they're genuinely resentful of the jobs they have to do every day, the people they have to work with, and the other aspects of their jobs. This isn't just a matter of employees who don't want to be at work, however. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, unhappy workers across the United States cost businesses more than $300 billion last year.
The cost of unhappy workers doesn't just show up in productivity, either. Unhappy workers are more likely to be absent from work, which can further decrease the productivity of their coworkers, since they aren't there to offer assistance or answer questions. Unhappiness at work also increases employee turnover, which may raise your costs significantly: with high turnover, you'll have to spend more time replacing employees, not to mention the funds to recruit and train.
Happier Workers, Happier Workplace
It probably comes as little surprise that your workers help set the tone for your entire organization. When workers are happy, they're more likely to be engaged and productive, and they'll create a happier working environment where everyone is more eager to come to work each day. According to current studies, happy workers create workplace environments that are less stressful and more effective. Employees who are stressed are more likely to be ill or to experience a range of chronic health problems.
When employees are happy, the whole business is happy. That doesn't mean that everyone will come to work whistling every day (though that could be an interesting sight to see!), but it does mean that employees who are happy will create a better work environment for both themselves and their coworkers. Happy employees are glad to be at work every day--or at least they don't mind being there.
Happiness Leads to Productivity
Happy workers are naturally more productive workers. Harvard Business Review suggests that happy workers show a 31% increase in productivity--which means 1/3 more getting done every day with the same number of staff members. Happy staff members are also more likely to be efficient, which means that, without feeling an increased burden of stress, they can handle more clients, get more tasks done, and turn out more projects throughout the course of the month or year. To happy workers, this burden doesn't feel like an excess; rather, it means that they are engaged during the work day and easily able to accomplish the tasks assigned to them. Happy workers may also turn out higher-quality work.
As if that's not enough, happy workers are also more motivated than those who are simply passing the time at work each day. That means an increase in the number of tasks that employees are willing to cheerfully take on. It's an internal motivation that employers don't have to monitor and can't create through external means--unless they're making the effort to improve overall employee happiness.
Are your workers truly happy at work? Do they enjoy what they do every day, or do they dread clocking in? Employee happiness can impact a wide range of factors in the workplace. Over the next article in our series, we'll take a look at how employee happiness can also impact employee turnover: happy employees are less likely to leave their jobs and move on to something that they perceive as "better."