Happiness A Management Issue

In 2005 a group of consultants were asked to “make Slough happy”. Yes the whole town, including its businesses, recognised it needed a boost. One of the consultancies involved was iOpener. This quest gave them the desire to answer the question: does happiness at work increase productivity?

After 5 years of research, many thousands of questionnaires, and hundreds of interviews they have some answers. These are some of their most interesting conclusions:

  • people who feel happy at work do 47% more in a week in terms of productivity – equivalent to an extra day and a quarter per week
  • people who are happy at work take 42% less sick leave than those that are unhappy
  • feedback has a big effect – recognition is strongly related to happiness levels whereas neutral feedback decreases productivity
  • the happiest employees are 50% more motivated as they experience more sense of competence, connection, and choice to align themselves with what matters to them.

The research showed that boosting happiness at work involves increasing individuals’ and teams’ sense of contribution, commitment, motivation, confidence and sense of fit in their work. Recognition is one of the main ways in which managers can increase peoples’ sense of happiness. It increases all of these internal factors for people. And often it costs very little.

Interestingly money did not score as a great producer of happiness or productivity at work. However, money is seen as strongly connected with overall happiness with life.

So what can you do to increase the happiness and thereby the productivity in your working environment? Most importantly, you can give recognition to more people more often. This is more than a “thank you” and a smile – even though they are still very welcome!

Real recognition is acknowledgement of what the person did that was valuable or special.  For example “Thank you. Your speed of response has made it so much easier for me to meet some tough deadlines.”  Not only does this increase happiness, it tells the person how to help you more in the future so you shape the service or interaction you get. So sharpen up your appreciative feedback skills and make the world around you a happier and more productive place.


Rosie Miller is a professional coach and the author of Are You a Badger or a Doormat?  How to be a Leader Who Gets Results. To contact Rosie Miller, please email her at