Psychology

Why does happiness foster productivity more than money?
Answered by Martha Barksdale and Discovery Fit & Health
  • Martha Barksdale

    Martha Barksdale

  • Discovery Fit & Health

    Discovery Fit & Health

  1. Happy employees are productive employees. A study conducted at the University of Warwick and published in 2010 showed that test subjects who watched a brief comedy video performed more tasks and performed them more accurately than subjects who didn't see the comedy clip. Moreover, subjects who had experienced an unhappy event in their lives, such as the death of a loved one, during the past year did not perform as well. All groups were told that their pay would be based on how well they performed, so they each had the same level of fiscal motivation [source: Sgroi]. The only difference was their level of happiness.

    Why does happiness foster productivity more than money? We've long assumed that the desire for money increases productivity, and that the monetary reward is what increases happiness. But some thinkers now believe that it could be the other way around -- happiness comes first, leading to increased productivity, which can lead to higher salaries. Happier people are just more successful, even without the incentive of money. But money does seem to follow happiness. A study in Australia, conducted over 15 years, showed that positive, upbeat workers received more pay and better job performance reviews than depressed colleagues [source: Williams].

    And why are happy people more productive? Unhappy thoughts can lead to lessened concentration and poor job performance. It may be that negative moods drag the employee into non-productive modes of thinking. They also introduce negative thoughts into the workplace and lower the morale and productivity of colleagues, sometimes creating conflict. Positive-minded co-workers, however, bring out the best in each other and increase the overall productivity in the workplace [source: Williams].

    Unhappy employees can actually cost companies a lot of money. As we've seen, happy workers are more productive. A Kansas State University professor estimates that an unhappy worker who makes around $65,000 a year could cost the company $75 per week in lessened performance [source: Science Daily]. After 50 weeks of work, this adds up to $3,750 -- a financial drain that most employers would be eager to plug. Unhappy workers are also more likely to quit their jobs, and turnovers cost employers money. Happier people generally enjoy better health, have lower medical costs and miss fewer days of work.

    Happy Pill Qa3
    (AJA Productions/Getty Images)

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  2. Researchers have found several reasons that happiness is more of a motivational factor for productivity than money. Money is complex in that the abundance or lack of it produces a range of effects. Money can cause pleasure or pain, stability or instability, calm or anxiety. Happiness, on the other hand, only causes happiness. There are no adverse effects. Also, it's been proven that happiness causes greater productivity [source: Rost]. Happy workers produce more efficiently than do dissatisfied workers.

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