Sure, we all want to feel happy. But what difference does that make when it comes down to producing real-world business results? It turns out that happiness is actually a quality that makes a huge difference in performance and productivity. Let’s look at the difference that happiness makes, and a few brain hacks for how to increase your happiness quotient.
Happiness and Performance
According to a recently published study in the MIT Sloan Management Review, happiness predicts outstanding job performance. Researchers spent almost five years following close to 1 million U.S. Army soldiers, first asking them to rate their happiness, then tracking which soldiers later received job performance awards. Soldiers who self-identified as happy won four times as many awards for both exemplary job performance and heroic actions in combat. “Not only do happiness and optimism matter to employee performance, but they matter a lot, and both predict how well employees will do,” the authors conclude.
Happiness and Productivity
A team of researchers from Oxford University and MIT recently found that happiness has a direct impact on productivity. Studying a call center sales team, the researchers found that happiness was directly correlated to both efficiency and effectiveness. “We find that when workers are happier, they work faster by making more calls per hour worked and, more importantly for sales, manage to convert more of these calls to sales (while maintaining customer satisfaction).”
Make Your Brain Your Happiness Ally
No doubt, the internet is full of happiness hacks, all of which are backed by less or more research. The ones that appear to have the most research behind them, and the ones that tend to work the best for me personally, are the ones that leverage our own neurophysiology. These essentially turn our brains and bodies into happiness allies.
Each of these deserves an article of its own, but for now, we’ll suffice with a list.
- Practice gratitude
- Sleep well
- Exercise regularly
- Be a life-long learner
- Spend time in nature
- Enjoy a strong social network
- Eat a balanced diet
- Take breaks
- Get a pet
- Participate in hobbies
- Appreciate the arts
- Cultivate mindfulness
To sum it up, “happiness is a tough job, but somebody has to do it,” writes author Mark Athitakis. Happiness not only feels good, but it has real-world business benefits as well. The next time you’re reflecting on your personal leadership strengths, don’t forget to include your level of happiness. Happy is the new strong.