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07 Mar 2019

Ways to help foster health and happiness among workers to boost productivity

With companies, CEOs and managers looking for the secret ingredient to boost productivity, happiness in the workplace is the new niche where businesses can make joyful gains to their bottom line…

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For most employees, work has historically been viewed as a necessary part of life in order to survive. But today, workplaces are looking at ways to help their employees do more than survive – they want them to thrive. And the logic is simple. Happy employees are more productive.

Studies by the Social Market Foundation show that on average, happy workers are 12 per cent more productive, with some elements of the study showing increases of 20 per cent.

Happiness downer
Of course, telling employees to be happy isn’t the answer. And increasing happiness isn’t as simple as throwing some bean bags and a table tennis table in the rec room. In fact, pushing happiness can have the opposite effect, where employees can become cynical and exhausted with all the celebrations. Who knew that too many cakes and party poppers could be such a downer?

Instead of pushing happiness down employees’ throats, there are ways to foster a positive work environment and it starts in a similar vein to Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson favourite saying, “Take care of your employees – and they’ll take care of your business.” Employees who feel supported and appreciated, and who feel like they are serving a purpose, are more willing to go above and beyond their job description.

Dr Cynthia Ackrill, a leading physician trained in neuroscience, stress management and leadership, has studied how ‘professional happiness’ can help work colleagues achieve business goals and objectives together.

“There’s a deep joy to be had from feeling purposeful. But too often, our culture and working environments put a premium on suffering towards our goals,” Dr Ackrill says.

“That’s the wrong way of thinking; success starts when you come at it with a positive attitude.” 

Happiness might be hard to instil, but once it starts, it’s highly infectious.

Happiness contagion

A study at Cornell University in New York State found that positive emotional contagion results in “improved cooperation, decreased conflict, and increased perceived task performance.”

“Emotional contagion is real and it’s powerful. Employers and managers have a great deal of influence over whether or not their employees catch the happiness habit,” Dr Ackrill says.

“And that’s essentially what happiness is: a healthy habit. It deserves its place in the wider health strategy. 

“Just as you can create opportunities for employees to exercise, eat better and sleep well, you can provide opportunities for them to reflect, practise gratitude, and generally be mindful of themselves and one another,” Dr Ackrill says.

Implementing happiness 
Leading businesses are now seeing the benefits of introducing platforms to help foster health and happiness in the workplace. Programmes such as Virgin Pulse’s Global Challenge have key modules focussing on happiness. Members can access these elements on the website and app to help practise gratitude (being thankful), promote positive attitudes and how focus and lower stress.

Dr Ackrill says that employers who actively foster happiness will get the best from their people. 

“Positive emotion is what makes humans thrive, rather than just survive, within a business.

“We often get so busy that we neglect the things that bring us joy, we forget self-care. The irony is that we’re doing it to be more productive. 

“Yet when we prioritise selfcare, and positivity within that, we become happier and more productive.”

Download the Virgin Pulse whitepaper to find out more about how you can increase happiness in the workplace.

This article is provided by Virgin Pulse. 

In partnership with Virgin Pulse

Our wellbeing solutions help your employees create habits that matter.

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