Economists Andrew Oswald, Eugenio Proto, and Daniel Sgroi from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick recently researched how happiness affects employees and their productivity. The findings, to be published in the Journal of Labor Economics, reveal that happiness made people about 12 per cent more productive.
“Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37 per cent; they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off,” says Oswald.
“The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality,” adds Sgroi.
Don’t worry about trying to get a job at Google, though. There are plenty of simple ways you can invest in your own happiness on the job and boost your career at the same time.
Become a morning person
If your job requires you to get a start in the morning, you may have fallen victim to the “Groundhog Day Syndrome,” stuck in a rut and repeating the same events over and over like Bill Murray’s character in the holiday-named movie. You may dread the morning fight to board the subway, the never-ending questions of what to wear for work that day or what to bring for lunch. Skip the daily dread, and instead become a morning person.
Lorena Prime, a productivity expert, says, “The successful habit I adopt before breakfast is to make things really easy for myself! I want the time after I wake until the time I eat breakfast and leave for work as stress-free as possible. This first hour is so important — if you start in a bad mood, it can affect your day. If you start in a good mood, it also affects your day! So I plan the night before: get the coffee pot ready, plan my lunch, set out my clothes, plan if I need to complete something for work just to make it super easy in the morning. This way I can start my day in a pleasant way, even if I’m not quite awake yet.”
Work smarter, not harder
Sometimes the reason we feel unhappy or trapped in our jobs is because we’re overwhelmed with the amount of work or the people who require it from us. But focusing on boosting your productivity will make your job much easier, which may make it more enjoyable for you.
“What I’ve found helpful is adhering to a period of time that I call my power hours,” says Nicholas Shum, co-founder of the apparel company Topwick. I’m most effective in the mornings as opposed to the afternoons. Therefore, I typically schedule all my meetings and phone calls for the afternoon when I’m more mentally lax. This allows me to prioritise my most important tasks during this period of time with zero distractions like emails, Facebook or the news.”
Also respect the boundaries you need to be a productive worker. Shum says, “It’s incredibly important that an employee learns to say no to tasks and activities that are unrelated to your main objectives and priorities. Co-workers will often ask for favours or bosses will pile on work without knowing what’s on your plate. Also prioritise your projects and tasks for the week and evaluate at the end of every week. If you’ve made headway on the most important projects, you’ve done good work. It’s important to recognise that business does not always equate to effectiveness. Effectiveness is placing your efforts in the right place.”
Thriving in your job, feeling capable of performing your responsibilities and losing many of the sources of daily stress in your life can make a huge difference in your work day. Yes, the main reason you’re probably at work is to earn a paycheck. But changing small areas of your life can also give you the perspective you need to see that you’re also producing important work and are able to handle your day, and even enjoy it.
Susan Ricker writes about career best practices for CareerBuilder