Yes, Happiness Can Boost Productivity – Here’s How

by | Jun 19, 2024 | Wellness

As humans, we’re constantly in the pursuit of happiness. And that pursuit grows, the more we learn about its benefits. Martin Seligman, considered the ‘Father of Positive Psychology’, said “…the happiest people tend to be those who pursue the full life– they infuse their life with pleasure, engagement and meaning”. With that in mind, could it be that happiness can boost productivity? Experts say yes. Here’s what you need to know.

Meet The Expert: Nisha Rodgerson is a clinical psychologist with a special interest in neurodiversity and neuropsychology and works at The Couch.

Why Happy People Are More Productive

When it comes to boosting productivity in the workplace, there’s a lot of emphasis on processes and tools, but what many fail to recognise is the significant impact that a person’s mood and emotional well-being can have on productivity levels. “When we’re happy, we’re more likely to approach tasks with enthusiasm and energy, leading to greater focus, efficiency and effectiveness,” explains Nisha Rodgerson. “Also, a positive mindset enables individuals to adapt more readily to challenges and setbacks, maintaining momentum and productivity even in the face of adversity.”

Your Brain Under Stress

It all has to do with brain chemistry. “The brain undergoes remarkable changes depending on our emotional state,” says Rodgerson.

“When we experience happiness, the brain releases neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, which are associated with feelings of pleasure and contentment. Conversely, during periods of sadness or stress, the brain may produce higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. This can impair cognitive function and decision-making abilities.”‌

While some people may work well under pressure – and may even claim to work better under pressure – there’s a difference between the thrill of an imminent deadline and the chronic stress that comes with feeling like you’re constantly behind or working in an environment that makes you unhappy.

“During periods of stress, the brain’s stress response system, primarily involving the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, becomes activated. This leads to the release of cortisol and other stress hormones, which can have profound effects on brain function,” says Rodgerson. “Chronic stress has been associated with structural and functional changes in brain regions such as the hippocampus, amygdala and prefrontal cortex, which are involved in memory, emotion regulation and decision-making.” What this means? Missed deadlines, difficulty focusing, indecision and work that’s not up to scratch. Yikes. It gets worse. Unhappy workers are also more likely to have higher rates of absenteeism, as well as presenteeism (where you’re physically present but not doing anything constructive), says Rodgerson. “One’s attitude towards work plays a pivotal role in determining productivity levels”. 

Building A Happier Workplace

Fostering a workplace culture where people have a positive attitude towards work can go a long way towards improving the productivity of the business. “By prioritising happiness and well-being in the workplace, employers can unlock the full potential of their workforce, leading to increased productivity, creativity and overall organisational success.”

Three colleagues having fun at work
Image by Freepik

This goes beyond having a pool table, fancy coffee machine or pizza party. While these are nice to have, what goes further is demonstrating a deeper understanding of people’s needs and giving them the tools to solve the problems that are causing their stress. According to Rodgerson, this may look like:

  • Encouraging work-life balance. Offering flexible work arrangements, paid time off and wellness programmes can help employees manage stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • Providing opportunities for growth and development. Investing in employee training and development demonstrates a commitment to professional growth and fosters a sense of purpose and fulfilment.
  • Cultivating a supportive and inclusive workplace culture. Promoting open communication, recognition of achievements, and collaboration can enhance morale and create a sense of belonging.
  • Offering perks and benefits. Providing benefits like health insurance, retirement plans and employee assistance programmes demonstrates care for employees’ overall well-being and can improve job satisfaction and retention rates.

Taking Charge Of Your Destiny

Here are Rodgerson-recommended well-being strategies you can use to boost your mood and productivity. 

  • Move more. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood-lifters and reduce stress.
  • Practise mindfulness and meditation. These techniques can help alleviate stress, promote relaxation and cultivate a positive outlook.
  • Seek support. Spending time with friends, family or colleagues can provide emotional support and enhance feelings of connection and belonging. Seeking out therapy is also a form of support.
  • Set realistic goals. Breaking tasks into manageable chunks and celebrating small victories can boost confidence and motivation.
  • Prioritise self-care. Getting adequate sleep, maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in hobbies and activities that bring joy can significantly impact mood and overall well-being.
  • Use technology to your advantage. There are apps and websites available that can assist in goal setting, progress tracking, mindfulness and increasing holistic well-being. 

Happiness-boosting Websites At Your Disposal

WHOLE introduces one to healthy habits and allows you to maintain them. It keeps you accountable for your healthy daily routine.

October Health keeps you in the loop with health professionals and allows you to receive accurate medical information. Your goal to being happy is assured with October Health.

SoSerene is an amazing system which helps integrate holistic healthy living into busy lives, with a focus on supporting mental health. Check this app out for any tools to improve your well-being.

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