Happiness and laughter in the workplace

How Happiness Leads to Productivity

Worrying Uses Brain-Space

When I started this website three years ago, if I talked to clients about the happiness of their staff I usually got a quick smile, a polite meeting and then the conversation moved onto improving performance or better team-work or stress-reduction. Now however, HR managers and leaders are keen to talk to me about increasing staff productivity through happiness.

My how things have changed – and with good reason. Two recent studies found happy employees are up to 50% more productive, plus a host of other benefits such as higher energy, engagement and satisfactionand less upward wage pressure.

It makes sense intuitively but have you ever wondered why?

Well it turns out that when we’re happy we worry less and focus more. Researchers at the University or Warwick found that happy people do the same quality of work but get through more of it. In the study one group of subjects was shown a comedy clip and a control group shown a ‘neutral’ film clip, then both were given puzzles to solve. The group that had watched the comedy solved 12% more tasks.

The reason is that we all have a finite amount of energy and attention. When you’re unhappy or concerned ie worried – it draws you away from the task at hand so you have less working brain space for what you’re doing (same reason multi-tasking doesn’t work).

However when you’re happy you’re not as distractable and don’t have to give your ‘head-space’ to anything else.

It’s the same reason it’s hard to focus on a movie when the cinema’s air-conditioning is too cold or concentrate on work after you’ve just had an argument. Discomfort is a signal that there’s something you need to ‘fix’. When you’re happy there’s nothing you need to ‘fix’ and you can focus on what is in front of you.

Interestingly the research also found that having a ’bad life event’ ie. bereavement or family illness also had a significant effect on performance even two years later.

So the message is: “Don’t worry and Be Happy” it not only feels good and boost your health – it helps you function better too. If you’d like some tips on how to do that – read on.

3 Tips to Overcome Worry:

Worrying is just not worth it because you suffer twice – once when the ‘problem’ arrives and once when you’re thinking about it. Either think about it and solve it or put it out of your mind. Here’s how:

  1. Write down the worry and make a commitment to attend to it.
  2. Practice resilience (download our Resilience Compass (free) and have a go.
  3. Make a time to worry and put it off until then. This might sound silly but I have practiced it and it works. You simply set aside a time to ‘worry’ – I used to say between 4:00 and 4:30 (in the afternoon of course!) and then every time you have a niggling thought – put it off till worry time!

If you have any other ideas – we’d love to hear them.

Useful Links

If you’d like to know more then try these resources or get in touch with us to run a workshop at your workplace.
Anxiety Culture | Undoing the Worrying Habit
Once acquired, the habit of worrying seems hard to stop. We’re raised to worry and aren’t considered “grown up” until we perfect the art.  But you can undo it – at least to some extent with these psychological gimmicks.

Help Guide | How to Stop Worrying
Worrying can be helpful when it spurs you to take action and solves a problem. However if you’re preoccupied with “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios, worry becomes the problem.  The good news is that you can break this habit and train your brain to look at life from a more positive perspective.

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