Are happy employees, productive employees?

Are happy employees productive employees?It is a common fallacy among managers that they want their staff to be happy because happy people are more productive. This may be true, but it is only part of the story. Of course, as a manager, you do not want your people to feel unhappy about coming to work. People who are miserable at work will most likely be unproductive and sooner or later they will leave. But that does not mean that your number one objective should be to make them happy.

Let’s look at the happiness issue. What if people like to work in your organization because it is comfortable, easy work and a friendly environment where they can chat with their friends, drink a cup of coffee and browse the internet? Under these circumstances they would be contented and glad to come in to work but what are they motivated to achieve there?

Instead of happy people, what you want are passionate people. You want your staff to come into work because they believe that what they are doing is really worthwhile; they believe in the goals and mission of the organization. In this way they will be motivated to work harder, to find better ways to help customers and to be more entrepreneurial in their approach. The ideal is when people are committed to the vision of the organization and can see how they can contribute to reaching that goal.

It follows that as the leader you should focus on two things. First, you should clearly communicate the vision and objectives for the organization and discuss with each individual how their role fits in and why it is important. This should be a dialogue in which you assess whether they are really committed to the vision and where you ask for their ideas about how they, you and the team can work together to make it happen. Secondly you should try to remove all the issues, great and small, which make their work more difficult or make them unhappy Eliminate the obstacles and give them the support they need so that they can achieve their objectives.

Is summary, you do not want unhappy staff but you do not want happy and complacent staff either. You want people working for you who are satisfied with the day to day aspects of their work environment and who are passionate about achieving the long-term goals of the business because they agree that they are worthwhile. You should work with them to help them clearly see how their work contributes to reaching these goals.

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Paul SloanePaul Sloane writes, speaks and leads workshops on creativity, innovation and leadership. He is the author of The Innovative Leader published by Kogan-Page.

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3 Responses to Are happy employees, productive employees?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Blogging Innovation » Are happy employees, productive employees? --

  2. Walter Bel says:

    I realy enjoyed your viewpoint. Interesting and very true. I will use the topic to help train my sales managers.

  3. Adrian J says:

    Some valid points Paul, and while agreeing with most of what you’ve said, I’n not quite on board with the following statement…

    “Instead of happy people, what you want are passionate people.”

    I think what you really want are “engaged” people. As managers it is our job to engage our team members and colleagues (not just direct reports). An engaged team, is a productive team. Having everyone on board with the ‘why’ you exist as an organisation, and what you are all collectively aiming to achieve, brings great success.

    One very important piece of the puzzle in ensuring staff engagement levels remain high which hasn’t been mentioned above is sharing in that success … recognition – a whole topic of it’s own, but a key contributing factor to successful businesses.

    Adrian J

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