In the business world, one of the oldest beliefs is that a happy worker is a productive worker (Mc Shane and Von Glinow 124). Today, companies and business organizations such as Xerox, Sears, Home Depot Canada and Roebuck & Co. are paying a lot of attention to job satisfaction. The reason for this lies in the argument, happiness is a key driver to corporate success and that satisfaction affects many aspects of the individual behaviors (Mc Shane and Von Glinow 123).
This paper discusses the effect of happiness or satisfaction to a person’s productivity and explains some of the social benefits one may get from being happy. Industrial Psychologists have observed the behavior of employees and correlated this factor to their workplace efficiency. Social benefits one may acquire from being happy are discussed in this paper as well.
Because it is important to know what happiness and productivity is, we first need to define the
terms to determine its scope in the research paper. The Webster’s Third New International Dictionary
defines happiness as the general term expressing enjoyment of or pleasurable satisfaction in well-being, security or fulfillment of wishes, while productivity refers to the capacity of effectiveness to produce output. Reports say that most people believe satisfied workers are more productive workers. Their reason for this belief is that satisfied employees are inclined to be more involved with their work and therefore, are more productive (Vecchio 134). Satisfaction reflects the individual’s happiness with his work situation. When employees like their job design, supervision and other job related factors they will probably be devoted and do well on their jobs (Byars and Rue 279). Furthermore, when a person is happy, he sees himself as a growing individual and is open to new experiences. He has sense of realizing his potentials and is changing in ways that show more self-knowledge and effectiveness (Feldman et al. 579). Additionally, satisfied employees do not get absent often, have lower rates for turnover (Robbins 81), have good work records, and areactively involving themselves in pursuing excellence in all areas of their jobs (Davis and Newstrom 198).
An individual’s satisfaction in his job is dependent upon three main factors namely his ability, his relationship with other workers and his motivation. Each of the principal factors stated involves goodhuman interactions. Therefore, it also depends upon how well an employee can get along with his fellow workers (Dela Calzada et al. 18). In the Western society, one factor that determines a person’s well being is how much a person achieves in his career (Burger 446) People prefer jobs that give them chances to make use of their skills and offer a wide range of tasks, freedom and feedback on how well they are doing. In short, people are happy or satisfied when their works are mentally challenging (Robbins 82). An interesting component of job satisfaction is the degree to which a certain job allows a match between a person’s ability and the challenges the work requires. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi asserts in his theory of flow that people are happiest when they are in a state which he labeled flow (Doherty and Mynatt 345). According to the flow theory of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the secret for enhancing the quality of life is finding something you find worthwhile and pleasurable and becoming good at it (Funder 396). The flow state exists when a person is challenged by the task but on which there is an equally high level of skill that can be brought to bear. Csikszentmihalyi and others have applied this model to job satisfaction. He then adds that people should be less satisfied and exhibit negative emotions when they are in states of boredom or when their interest level becomes low (Doherty and Mynatt 345). Hence, challenging experiences can be sources of learning, growth, and wisdom, and success in dealing with them is an important part of what gives life meaning (Funder 397).
So the question is, does being happy affect one’s productivity? Answers for this question will be discussed in the latter part of this research paper. But for now, let’s discuss the social benefits one may get from being happy.
If better behavior in organizations can make job satisfaction better, a benefit occurs. In the sameway, when programs for the development of employees lead to a consequence of having better citizens in a community, we can get a valuable social output from it (Davis and Newstrom 17). A recent review of the study on happiness has revealed that happiness truly has numerous positive by-products which appears to be of advantage not only to individuals but also to communities and societies at large. Some of the benefits one may get from being happy are related to his work outcomes. When a person is happy, he is more likely to display productivity and higher quality of work in his workplace. In the social context, A person’s social interaction is boosted when he is happy. Additionally, happy individuals are more creative, helpful, generous and self confident (http://lyubomirsky.socialpsychology.org/).
Furthermore, happy people score high on having good interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships.They have more empathy and they care more about others in general (http://www.upperbay.org/benefits_of_happiness.htm). Not only are happy people sympathetic, butalso they understand the give and take of human relationships (Feldman et al. 579). Csikszentmihalyi observes that every person feels happier when they are with other people.Also, Happiness helps in the building up of mature persons as well as of harmonious relationships (Sanchez and Berin 82). Smiling when feeling happy makes the feeling of happiness strong and creates a cheerful and warm relationships needed in an organization (Apruebo 119). Moreover, employees who are in a good mood are more likely to display positive emotions and friendliness. If employees show positive emotions, they put customers in a better mood too (Mc Shane and Von Glinow 125). Last, good morale and productivity always go together because a worker‘s productivity will result to increased acceptance and prestige among his fellow workers and managers (Sanchez and Berin 169). It was mentioned earlier that in the business world, one of the oldest beliefs is that a happy worker is a productive worker. Now, the evidence suggests that the popular belief may be correct after all. In support for this argument, a ground breaking analysis concludes that there is a limited relationship between the variables job satisfaction and job performance. In other words, happy workers are more productive workers to a certain extent (Mc Shane and Von Glinow 124). Other researchers also insist that satisfaction and performance are possibly correlated. A viewpoint asserts that satisfaction causes performance. This proposal was the premise for the human relations approach which assumes that if you make workers happy, they will be more productive in return (Vecchio 135).
Along with the job satisfaction- performance relationship, managers and corporate leaders are making strong affirmations that happy employees make happy customers. Virgin group founder Richard Branson explains, “It just seems common sense to me that if you start with a happy, well-motivated workforce, you are much more likely to have happy customers (qtd. In Mc Shane and Von Glinow 125).
Author of The Power of a Laughing Face Yoshihiko Kadokawa says, “I have found through my surveys that sales personnel could beef up sales by as much as twenty percent each day just by smiling more at their customers (qtd. In Mc Shane and Von Glinow 118). However, empirical research has not determined sufficient support for the proposition satisfied workers are more productive workers. In fact, the available evidence suggests that the relationship between the variables is a very weak one. More recent studies found that the correlations suggest that very little variance in performance can be attributed to job satisfaction (Vecchio 135).
In the 1980s, organizational behavior experts have derived with the same conclusion, that job satisfaction and productivity has a weak or negligible association. There are many reasons why the relationship is not strong. One argument is that general attitudes do not predict specific behaviors very well. Another explanation is that job performance leads to job satisfaction only when valued rewards are given to well performing workers. Here, job performance leads to job satisfaction only if rewards are given to compensate the good performance of a worker (Mc Shane and Von Glinow 124). Furthermore, a satisfied employee is not necessarily a high performer (Ivancevich et al. 87). Satisfied workers may be high, average, or even low producers and the tendency is they will continue the level of performance that brought them previous satisfaction (Davis and Newstrom 198). Attempts of managers to make everyone happy will not always result to high levels of productivity. Again, the assumption that a high performing employee is likely to be satisfied is not well supported (Ivancevich et al. 87).
Another discovery that proves the invalidity of the conclusion happy workers are productive workers is based on a careful review of the research. The review of the research says that, if there is a positive relationship between the variables happiness and productivity, the correlations are low in the proximityof +0.14. This means that no more than two percent of the variance in output can be accounted for by employee satisfaction (Robbins 77). If two variables are correlated, it is not a guarantee that a cause and effect relationship exists between them. A non-zero correlation between two things means that they co-vary, but the covariation is not enough proof for causality. They may co-vary because one causes the other or vice versa. Another possibility is by chance or coincidence(Doherty and Mynatt 23).
Due to the mild relationship of the variables, attempts to enhance worker satisfaction and performance will probably be unsuccessful. In fact, some attempts to increase productivity may decrease job satisfaction (Muchinsky 316).Finally, the most recent findings indicate that employee job satisfaction is largely determined by genetics. The gene structure of a person plays an important role in determining whether he is happy or not. Approximately, eighty percent of peoples differences in happiness, or subjective well-being , has been found to be caused by the gene structure they have (Robbins 82).
If a person is happy, then he has a sense of realizing his potentials (Feldman et al. 579) and actively pursues excellence in all areas of his job (Davis and Newstrom 198). Happiness has numerous by-products which appear to be of advantage not only to individuals but also to communities and societies at large (http://lyubomirsky.socialpsychology.org/) because happy people understand the give and take of human relationships (Feldman et al. 579). Although happy workers make happy customers, the relationship between happiness and productivity is limited to a certain extent (Mc Shane and Von Glinow 124). The relationship of happiness and productivity has intrigued the minds of people for many years now. Many people think these two variables should go together because of their covariation. However, evidence suggests that covariation is not a sufficient proof for causality.
Aside from this, many research study have revealed there is little in common between happiness and productivity. Meaning, the relationship between the two variables is a very weak one (Vecchio 135). There are many reasons why the relationship is not strong. One is that attitudes do not predict specific behaviors very well (Mc Shane and Von Glinow 124). How happy a person is depends on factors such as his personality, disposition and lately, being based on his gene structure. One thing more, happiness is subjective and its effect varies from one person to another. Happiness may make a person productive but it does not always guarantee to bring about positive outputs in the workplace. On the other hand when it comes to productivity, factors such as ability, work environment and motivation are also considered. Given these conclusions, there is only little that a manager can do when it comes to efforts in increasing the happiness and productivity level of a worker. Therefore, the effect of happiness to one’s productivity is very minimal.
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