Research by Oxford University's Saïd Business School, in collaboration with British multinational telecoms firm BT, has found a conclusive link between happiness and productivity.
An extensive study into happiness and productivity has found that workers are 13% more productive when happy. The research was conducted in the contact centres of British telecoms firm BT over a six month period by Jan-Emmanuel De Neve (Saïd Business School, University of Oxford) George Ward (MIT) and Clement Bellet (Erasmus University Rotterdam).
‘We found that when workers are happier, they work faster by making more calls per hour worked and, importantly, convert more calls to sales,’ said Professor De Neve.
The authors state that while the link between happiness and productivity has often been discussed, their study provides the first causal field evidence for this relationship. ‘There has never been such strong evidence,’ said Professor De Neve.
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,’ comments 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.