The crucial link between employee happiness and work efficiency

Happiness and productivity are intricately linked. Picture: Christina Morillo/Pexels

Happiness and productivity are intricately linked. Picture: Christina Morillo/Pexels

Published May 7, 2024


Happiness and productivity are intricately linked and this connection has significant implications for both employees and organisations.

Existing research shows that happier employees are generally more engaged with their work.

Increased engagement also means that individuals are more invested in their tasks, leading to improved performance and productivity.

And when employees feel positive emotions, they are more likely to make more of an effort with their various their tasks.

In the modern fast-paced work environment, the focus often lands squarely on processes and tools to boost productivity. But the crucial role that an employee's mood and emotional health plays in how much they get done, is frequently overlooked.

Nisha Rodgerson, a clinical psychologist with expertise in neuro-diversity and neuro-psychology, believes in the power of positivity at work.

"Feeling good doesn't just make us think better. It sparks creativity, enhances our ability to solve problems and strengthens our resilience."

She also believes that a positive outlook helps workers tackle their tasks with more enthusiasm which ultimately improves focus and efficiency.

In addition, Rodgerson noted that being upbeat helps people adjust faster to unexpected challenges.

Your brain under stress

Rodgerson explains that the connection between how we feel and our brain's chemistry is profound.

She said that when an individual is happy, the brain releases dopamine and serotonin which are feel-good chemicals that boost the sense of pleasure and satisfaction.

Over time, this constant stress can change parts of the brain. Picture: Christina Morillo/Pexels

But during a stressful period, the brain may pump out more cortisol, a hormone that can distort the ability to think clearly and make decisions.

While some claim they thrive under pressure, she explained that this is not the same as the damage caused by ongoing stress.

Instead, this kind of stress activates the brain's stress pathways, including the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, leading to a flood of cortisol.

Over time, this constant stress can change parts of the brain, like the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex, which help us remember things, manage our emotions and make decisions.

This can lead to missed deadlines, trouble keeping focused, making poor decisions and producing substandard work.

Rodgerson added that workers who are consistently unhappy are not only more likely to skip work, but also to show up and not accomplish anything.

Building a happier workplace

The mental health expert believes that by prioritising happiness and wellbeing in the workplace, employers can unlock the full potential of their workforce.

“This goes beyond just cool office perks like pool tables and espresso machines, the real key to a happier workplace lies in understanding and addressing the root causes of employee stress,” she said.

Here are Rodgerson’s tips for promoting a healthy work-life balance:

Strategies such as introducing flexible schedules, ensuring employees have adequate paid leave and offering access to wellness programs could help employees feel happier.

The mental health experts also stressed that creating a culture of support and inclusivity is crucial.

“Facilitating open conversations, celebrating individual and team successes and fostering teamwork can boost morale and help everyone feel valued and connected.”

She added that enhancing job satisfaction and loyalty through tangible benefits such health coverage, pension schemes and support services could reduce worker’s stress and make them more productive as a whole.

“This shows a genuine commitment to the welfare of employees, making them more likely to stick around and be happy in their roles.”

Move more

Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters and stress reducers.

Practise mindfulness and meditation

These techniques can help alleviate stress, promote relaxation and cultivate a positive outlook.

Seek support

Spending time with friends, family or colleagues can provide emotional support and enhance feelings of connection and belonging.

Seeking out therapy is also a form of support.

Set realistic goals

Breaking tasks into manageable chunks and celebrating small victories can boost confidence and motivation.

Prioritise self-care

Getting adequate sleep, maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in hobbies and activities that bring joy can significantly impact mood and overall well-being.

Use technology to your advantage

There are applications available that can assist in goal setting, progress tracking, mindfulness and increasing overall physical and emotional well-being.