Happiness - the superpower of top performers

At ASCS we’ve always advocated that organizations should strive to create happier, more human-centric and purpose-driven cultures. We’ve advised students to focus on the wellbeing of employees, not productivity, because happy people are productive people. Recent research by Lester, Diener and Seligman provides a great back up to this idea. 

For all of you busy people, below is our short summary of the article: 

The study found that well-being is a strong predictor of outstanding job performance. While the authors expected that well-being would matter to performance, they were taken aback by just how much it mattered. Happy people were 4x more productive than those who were unhappy. Happier employees are also more likely to emerge as leaders, earn higher scores on performance evaluations, and tend to be better teammates. We also know, based on substantial research, that happier employees are healthier, have lower rates of absenteeism, are highly motivated to succeed, are more creative, have better relationships with peers, and are less likely to leave a company. All of these correlates of happiness significantly influence a company’s bottom line.

To maximize the amount of happy people in the company, leaders can take these actions: 

1. Measure happiness in job candidates. Perhaps happiness should not be placed above experience and skills when hiring new employees, but it should be measured as a discriminator (or tiebreaker) by using proven assessment tools. This action costs almost nothing, but it will influence exceptional performance and reduce turnover. Using well-being as a hiring criterion should lead to about 11 more exceptional performers than if the company simply hired personnel without considering well-being at all. 

2. Develop happiness in your workforce. Training initiatives targeting employee well-being do not require a significant time investment, are cost effective, and carry a high ROI. Most interventions can be done without outside consultants, the “Three Good Things” (participants write down three things that went well each day for one week) or the “Using Signature Strengths in a New Way”, (participants complete an online strengths survey and then use one of their top strengths in a new way each day for at least a week) significantly increased happiness and decreased depression over six months. 

3. Retain employees who are happy. Organizations need happy employees not only because they work better, but also because happiness is contagious. Happiness can spread across a social network and also that happy people are much more connected to other happy people within the network. With performance and other factors held constant, organizations should keep the employee who is happiest.

Many more valuable insights from this study can be found here:

Check our website for courses on organizational culture.