A lack of ethics and fairness in the workplace results in unhappy employees, who in turn become unproductive, lack creativity, and miss more days from work. Happy employees work “more discretionary hours, take less sick leave, and stay longer in their jobs” (Pryce-Jones, 2010, p. 20). These findings are substantiated within the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and management (Achor, 2010).
Happy employees affect their colleagues and have an especially big impact on their followers (Achor, 2010; Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2007; Pryce-Jones, 2010). Repeated studies by Dr. Fred Luthans (and others) have demonstrated that leaders who have hope, efficacy, resiliency and optimism exhibit a contagion effect on those who report to them. In a study on a high-tech manufacturing firm, 74 engineering managers received a 2.5-hour mini-intervention designed to increase manager hope, efficacy, resiliency and optimism. After factoring in time away from the job for participation in the training, company overhead, and training costs, the return on investment was 270% (Luthans et al., p. 225).
The psychological capital and happiness at work concepts are recent phenomena, with their roots dating back to 2002. Research has substantiated their effectiveness in fields as diverse as engineering, law enforcement, insurance sales and manufacturing. The potential applications for other fields are endless, including (medical) helping professions, teaching, and athletics. In my view, increasing employee psychological capital and happiness at work will be critical for businesses wishing to have a competitive advantage in today’s global climate.
Achor, S. (2010). The Happiness advantage: Seven principles of positive psychology that fuel success and performance at work. New York, NY: Random House, Inc.
Luthans, F., Youssef, C., & Avolio, B. (2007). Psychological capital: Developing the human competitive edge. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Pryce-Jones, J. (2010). Happiness at work: Maximing your psychological captial for success. West Sussex, England: Wiley-Blackwell.