Happiness in the Workplace

There is a tremendous amount of research regarding the benefits of happiness, but what about the value happiness has in the workplace? A happy employee is better than an unhappy employee. That is a no-brainer. But did you know there is a tremendous amount of research that also points to how it is good for business?

Here are the benefits of having happy employees in the workplace:

13% More Productive

Having more productive employees is a big win, but it is also beneficial to note the researchers found that happy workers do not work more hours than their discontented colleagues – they are simply more productive within their time at work.

Fewer Sick Days  

Sick days are costly for businesses. Analysis from Integrated Benefits Institute found that lost productivity from illness-related employee absences totaled almost 1.5 billion days annually for all employees and cost employers $3,900 per employee. What is the connection between those costs and employee happiness? When unhappiness increases, so do sick days taken. Workers who report being happy take 10X fewer sick days than unhappy employees. 

Better Performance

A study recently published in the Journal of Happiness Studies shows employee well-being and happiness accurately predict employee performance. Happy people quite simply perform better. How much better? Happy individuals were four times more likely to perform better and receive awards than the least positive ones.

Improved Retention

Losing an employee cost, a company on average. The good news is that happy employees are less likely to leave their jobs. As happiness increases, the number of employees who leave their organization typically decreases.

Employees are a company’s most important asset. Optimizing things like productivity, sick time, retention, and performance by creating a happier workplace makes good business sense but the big question is how? Here is a list of techniques and tools can help you get started. Five tips to increase employee happiness:

Encourage social interaction. Human beings are hard-wired to connect. Small talk, as we call it has huge benefits as It enables us to find common ground and shared interests. It also improves active listening skills, builds muscles to overcome social discomfort, and lays the groundwork for transitioning into deeper topics that require a foundation to start from. Leaders must look for ways to foster social capital beyond team meetings.

Give employees a reset button. Stress is inevitable, whether it comes from home life or is the result of work pressures. Hybrid working and home office distractions affect our ability to pay attention, learn, or be happy. Having tools to help employees reset is growing in popularity. It can be as simple as teaching some breathing techniques or having an EAP program where employees can talk to professionals. I have also recently learned of some organizations that offer a bank of 15-minute work breaks where employees can walk away from their desks without being penalized to be extremely effective

Eliminate the necessary meetings and emails…Sometimes making employees happy means removing the negatives. Take meetings, for example; Most employees feel overwhelmed by the number of meetings they must attend, eliminating unnecessary meetings (and by unnecessary, I mean almost all) will immediately improve employee optimism and well-being. The same is true for off-hours emails. Since most employees assume a quick response is required — even if you don’t expect one — receiving off-hours emails increases their stress and anxiety and lowers their overall well-being. Set expectations for response time — or better yet, stop sending off-hours emails — and you can immediately improve employee happiness.

Give your employees a voice. When was the last time you asked an employee what was on their mind? Many organizations rely on annual surveys and do not take the time to ask their employees if they have feedback or ideas. Employees need to feel appreciated and respected to be happy at work. Make sure that your employees feel like they are part of a team and that their opinions are valued It could be as simple as starting department meetings with a roundtable regarding challenges or opportunities

Learn what your employees value. The great divide between personal and professional life has disappeared for most employees this day. In addition, the values for most individuals post-pandemic has radically changed, do you know what your employees value. What is important to them. If you, do not you really are missing some critical information. Values no longer are just the things we deem important in our personal lives, but they now transcend our entire lives. Knowing this gives you an opportunity to connect with employees on what is important to them and help contribute to their overall happiness.

Recognize individual and team accomplishments. Employees believe that being recognized at work contributed to their happiness, and being acknowledged gives them a sense of pride and desire to continue them

Happiness is an extremely powerful contagious emotion. It just does not make us feel good, it has the power to create a stronger more productive business.


Peggy Sullivan is a women’s leadership speaker, mindset expert, and founder of the nonprofit organization, SheCAN!. She is also the author of the book, “Happiness is Your Responsibility”. Peggy is a strong advocate of utilizing the power of happiness to achieve personal success, professional growth, and increased health and wellness. She has won numerous awards and honors, including the 2019 Woman in Leadership Award from New York State. Peggy has also been featured in Forbes Women, FOX, and BloomTV, and has presented and consulted worldwide for organizations such as Bank of America, Blue Cross BlueShield, Ingram Micro, and WomanUp Conferences. You can connect with Peggy on LinkedIn and Instagram, and purchase “Happiness is Your Responsibility” here.