Monday, 12 September 2011

Do Happier People Work Harder ?

Do Happier People Work Harder?
Research shows that staff perform better when they’re happily engaged at work

Americans (And if we extrapolate this to our country) now feel worse about their jobs – and work environments – than ever before. And there’s no reason to think things will soon improve, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which has been polling more than 1,000 adults every day since January 2008. Employee engagement may seem like a frill in a downturn economy. But it can make a big difference in a company’s survival. 

In a 2010 study, James K. Harter and colleagues found that lower job satisfaction foreshadowed poorer bottom-line performance. Gallup estimates the cost of America’s disengagement crisis at a staggering $300 billion in lost productivity annually. When people don’t care about their jobs or their employers, they don’t show up consistently, they produce less or their work quality suffers. 

Over the past decade, the research looked into the micro-level causes behind this macro-level problem. To gain real-time perspective into everyday work lives, nearly 12,000 electronic diary entries from 238 professionals in seven companies were collected. The analysis revealed their inner work lives – the usually hidden perceptions, emotions and motivations that people experience as they react to and make sense of events in their workdays. 

The results were sobering. In one-third of the 12,000 diary entries, the diarist was unhappy, unmotivated or both. In fact, workers often expressed frustration, disdain or disgust. Research shows that inner work life has a profound impact on workers’ creativity, productivity, commitment and collegiality. Employees are far more likely to have new ideas on days when they feel happier. Conventional wisdom suggests that pressure enhances performance; the real-time data, however, shows that workers perform better when they are happily engaged in what they do. 

Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Steven Kramer, an independent researcher, are the authors of The Progress Principle:  The New York Times / ET Mumbai , 13 Sept. 2011

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