Study shows link between happiness and productivity

A new study shows evidence of a link between productivity and happiness.

woman smiling and looking at a book in an office space


Workers are 13% more productive when happy, according to a new study.

The research, carried out at BT contact centres over a six-month period, found that when workers were happier they worked faster, making more calls per hour worked and converted more calls to sales.

The study by Jan-Emmanuel De Neve from the University of Oxford, George Ward  from MIT and Clement Bellet from Erasmus University Rotterdam provides the first causal field evidence of the relationship between happiness and productivity.

Recent research into the mood of the UK has found that paid work is ranked near the bottom in terms of activities that make the population happy. “There seems to be considerable room for improvement in the happiness of employees while they are at work,” says Professor De Neve. “While this clearly in the interest of workers themselves, our analysis suggests it is also in the interests of their employers.”

The BT workers were asked to rate their happiness on a weekly basis for six months using a simple email survey containing five emoji buttons representing states of happiness – from very sad to very happy. Data on attendance, call-to-sale conversion and customer satisfaction were tracked, along with the worker’s scheduled hours and breaks. The researchers collated this information alongside administrative data obtained from the firm on worker characteristics, work schedules and productivity.

The study also factored in local weather conditions and uncovered a clear negative relationship between adverse weather conditions and the happiness of the workers.

The researchers found that happy workers do not work more hours than their discontented colleagues – they are simply more productive within their time at work.

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