People are more productive when they are happy. It sounds kind of obvious, doesn’t it? And probably something that we all instinctively and implicitly know is true. Certainly, as a recruitment consultancy we meet with lots of recruiters and job seekers and motivation, happiness and staying focused on the job is always a big topic of conversation. If only someone could quantify the improvement to the return on investment…

Interestingly the University of Warwick has done just that. Economists devised and ran several experiments that attempted to test out the hypothesis that happy employees work harder. They found from their tests that people were (a reassuringly precise) 12% more productive.

According to the researchers this is the first causal evidence using randomised trials and piece-rate working. The full study is to be published in the Journal of Labor Economics and it details the four different experiments that were conducted with the 700 research participants.

During the experiments, some of the participants were given a treat (chocolate) or shown something nice (a funny clip) and other participants were questioned about recent family tragedies. Researchers then assessed whether lower levels of happiness were later associated with lower levels of productivity.

One of the economists Professor Andrew Oswald said: “Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%, they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.”

Full details of the research and links to the full report can be found on the University of Warwick website here

Charlie Cowin

Associate Director

Charlie specialises in: HR Advisors, Managers, Directors, HR Business Partners and Talent Acquisition.

07972 563 931
020 7183 7145


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