Can happiness at work survive uncertainty?

There is growing a belief that individual happiness has material causative effects on business performance and individual productivity. Harvard Business Review reports that companies with disengaged employees have 37% higher absenteeism and 60% more workplace errors – disengagement can occur when uncertainty lurks around the workplace. The negative effects can result in disastrous conditions for your company. It is the role of a business leader to engage people in change processes and furthermore stimulate employee happiness in the workplace. In turn, this will act to increase and develop workplace productivity. Happiness - Workplace management - Advanced Workplace Associates - workplace productivity

Research experimental work carried out at the University of Warwick1 involving 700 individuals showed that individuals who had their happiness deliberately enhanced by prior exposure to comic videos were more productive in set tasks than control groups and very much better than groups that were reminded of family bereavement or sad events.

These results are supported by the assertions of companies such as Google and Pret a Manger but contested by others that question the validity of mimicking these behaviours in companies with different cultures.

But let us suppose that the research is valid and that happy workers are more productive, the challenge then becomes:

What do you have to do to maintain happiness in your workers at the same time as having people who flourish under times of rapid change and agility?

The common belief is that uncertainty is a prime cause of anxiety, stress and, by the same reasoning, happiness. This does not bode well for productivity.  It seems to me that people fare best in times of change when they understand the change, they have the opportunity and time to figure out what it means for them, and they have great support from their friends and colleagues – from people who share their concerns and have experienced similar situations and effects. Perhaps it is time that our organisations and businesses recognise that part of the Agile Thinking they need to do is to develop practical support mechanisms for their workers. Many people say that their organisations are changing all the time, but “we don’t do change well”. Developing competence in Change Management would be a great investment to help individuals and groups deal with uncertainty and bring some more joy back into the workplace.

Learn how to increase productivity with the consultants at Advanced Workplace Consultants. Labour productivity is a fragile and complex and furthermore, requires multiple ingredients and conditions to improve. For more information contact or call +44 207 743 7110.


  1. Happiness & Productivity, D Sgroi University of Warwick 2015
  2. Workplace Management Framework
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