Happy workers are productive workers

October 12 2017
Happy workers are productive workers

It’s safe to say that doing a job that you will be more motivated to do a job you actually like doing. This is a not necessarily the same thing as a high-status job that’s spectacularly well-paid, just one that gives you a sense of satisfaction and achievement.

If you want evidence, I give you Indeed’s “Happiness Index.” An international study of job satisfaction rates based ten million of the website’s employee reviews, it found that Australia’s happiest workers aren’t actually doctors, lawyers and bankers, let alone cashed-up CEOs, they’re teachers’ aides, personal assistants, nannies and tutors, while caregivers also ranked highly.

“We can clearly see that job satisfaction is often not dependent on salary or benefits,” says Indeed’s Chris McDonald. “Pay levels were consistently ranked below less tangible benefits like the balance people are able to strike between their personal and professional life.”

It’s a similar story over in England, according to the behavioural scientist Professor Paul Dolan. His research found that 79 per cent of florists, hairdressers and beauticians are happy at work, compared to less than half of all lawyers and bankers. Job reviews from Fairygodboss, a site where women assess their workplaces, also show that “going up in the world” doesn’t always lead to a rise in morale. “This could be due to many factors such as higher expectations, workload, the stress of additional responsibility (or) greater exposure to office politics,” wrote the company’s CEO of the findings, which essentially show that secretaries enjoying life more than managers.

Once upon a time, things would have been different: the lower you were on the corporate ladder, the harder you were expected to work. One of the perks of being a bigwig was all the long, boozy lunches, followed by 18-hole rounds of golf.

In many of today’s workplaces, however, that model’s been turned on its head. A recent Harvard Business School survey found that 94 per cent of professional work at least 50 hours a week and almost half work more than 65 hours. The modern high-achiever gobbles down lunch at his desk, and is still there when the time comes for dinner. He or she is permanently attached to their emails, and doesn’t really know what it is to have a weekend off.

For McDonald, while “career paths and compensation still matter,” findings like these show that employers “should focus on communicating how they help workers achieve a positive work-life balance and the flexible working practices that they have in place to ensure their teams stay happy and engaged.”