Are you doing everything you can to improve employee happiness? You’d better be! Employee happiness directly correlates to productivity levels, a University of Warwick study showed. When employees feel happy, their productivity is high. The opposite is true when they’re unhappy.

Low productivity rates can have a devastating effect on a company’s bottom line in the form of lost customers, as well as poor customer and employee retention rates. Often these turns of events are irreversible, and businesses find themselves constantly trying to make up lost ground instead of pushing forward.

Low productivity rates can have a devastating effect on a company’s bottom line.

The University of Warwick study, consisting of four different experiments involving more than 700 participants, indicated that happiness caused employees’ productivity rates to increase by roughly 12%.

To conduct the study, researchers presented a group of participants with either happy situations (watching a comedy movie clip) or gifts (free drinks, fruit and chocolate) and another group the opposite (they were questioned about family tragedies).

“We have shown that happier subjects are more productive, the same pattern appears in four different experiments,” said Dr. Eugenio Proto, lead researcher, according to a University of Warwick release. “This research will provide some guidance for management in all kinds of organizations, they should strive to make their workplaces emotionally healthy for their workforce.”

Now that we’ve come to understand how improving employee happiness is linked with productivity rates, the next two questions we need to answer are:

  • Why do happier employees work harder?
  • How can companies improve workplace happiness?

Why do people work harder when they’re happy?

The best way to answer this question is by asking another question: Does success increase happiness or does happiness increase success? Many companies, according to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, only believe that success improves employee happiness. But this isn’t always the case.

In an interview with Inc. contributing writer Jessica Stillman, Achor noted that companies need to flip their scripts. If they seek to improve their employee’s happiness, workers are more likely to solve problems and become more productive. The reason, Achor explained, is because employees’ brains work better when the person feels happy.

“We found that optimism is the greatest predictor of entrepreneurial success because it allows your brain to perceive more possibilities,” said Achor. “Only 25 percent of job success is based upon IQ. Seventy-five percent is about how your brain believes your behavior matters, connects to other people, and manages stress.”

Achor’s research further supports our point that productivity is directly related to happiness. Want to see your employees’ productivity rise dramatically? Improve their happiness.

Employees want to know their work will make a difference on a grand scale.

How can companies improve workplace happiness?

Companies can (and should) take a number of steps to improve workplace happiness. They can start by letting employees know they matter. Employees want to know their work will make a difference on a grand scale, whether that’s inside or outside of the organization.

One way for managers to improve happiness is to show their appreciation by rewarding employees for their great work. These rewards can be office awards (monthly, quarterly or annual), gift cards or a simple “congratulations!” and “great job!”

Another way is to develop a more collaborative work environment. Employees who enjoy working together are generally happier. Alexander Kjerfulf, an international author and speaker, spoke to Jacquelyn Smith at Forbes and explained why it’s vital that managers pay attention to and improve (if needed) workplace relationships.

“Employees who have positive workplace relationships are happier at work (in fact, good workplace relationships are one of the most important sources of workplace happiness) and we know that people who are happy at work are more productive, more creative and more successful overall,” Kjerfulf said.

Companies that devote resources to improving workplace happiness will find they’ll earn back their investment in form of more productive employees and thus an improved bottom line.