There’s an old adage among managers that happy employees are productive employees. Playing devil’s advocate, there’s a counter belief that employees that are too happy might become too content, slack off and turn in less-than-optimal work. So, what’s the truth?
The good news is most of the evidence supports the theory that happy employees are indeed more productive… however, there are a few caveats. Researchers often substitute (or stretch) the concept of “happy” to mean engaged and empowered employees. In fact, a book written by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton
on the importance of workplace happiness, productivity and the factors underlying each talks about trying to stimulate the three Es among employees – (E)nabled, (E)nergized and (E)ngaged.
Enabled, Energized and Engaged Employees
When employees are more engaged, they’re putting in the extra mile, staying late to work on assignments and really feel like their contribution is going toward a larger, more meaningful whole. This gets to the next E, enabled. These employees are working in environments in which their efforts are understood, appreciated and supported by managers.
The last E, energized employees, is all about making sure that your workforce gets a sense of fulfillment out of what they do. They’re looking for meaningful ways to contribute, perhaps beyond what is expected of them, but not beyond their competencies and training.
Key to Higher Productivity
Research supporting the three Es – enabled, energized and engaged employees – and productivity looked at over 500 companies and found that when workplace engagement was highest, businesses tended to thrive compared to workplaces with low employee engagement. The takeaway lesson is clear – keep employee engagement high and good things will follow.
Communication, Happiness and Workplace Productivity
There’s mounting evidence
that employees who are more engaged and satisfied with their jobs enjoy higher scores on performance evaluations and also boast much higher pay than unhappy employees. Employees who derive more satisfaction from what they do are also more likely to work more productively, report lower medical costs and have much lower rates of absenteeism; suggesting that happy employees are more likely to show up to work consistently, and far less likely to find creative ways of getting out of work.
Happy Workers and Improved Communication
Satisfied employees have an impact on the emotional environment of an entire office – when people visit, they’ll often remark about the buzz. It can be very tangible. Unfortunately, the same is true of negative employees. And, it takes fewer of them to spoil a great vibe (buzz kill).
Research further shows happy and unhappy workers interpret the delivery of the same information in totally different ways. Unhappy workers are more likely to interpret questions and positive or neutral suggestions in an unproductive, negative way. Those who are unhappy with their work take a more negative outlook, often resulting a more adversarial, one-up communications approach. This can adversely affect productivity. And, it’s a vicious cycle.
Being Sensitive to Different Communication Styles
We all use different styles of communication in the workplace – some of us want the facts, and only the facts dispassionately conveyed to us, and others like a message that’s sincerely expressed and promotes cooperation. The key to bringing out the best in employees and creating a positive workplace environment is appreciating where all of your employees are coming from (e.g., what communication style they’re using) and tailoring your message accordingly. This keeps employees enabled, energized and engaged since their voices are being heard and their efforts are contributing to larger successes.