Here’s What Your Happiness at Work Is Worth

Maybe it feels a little Late Capitalism to put a price tag on happiness, but it turns out the research is there: Your mood at the office can account for up to 10 percent of your productivity, one way or another.

Writing for a German think tank, English economists just published a study suggesting tangible benefits for creating a happy work environment. Among the results, according to the authors: Positive emotions influence how much time you spend on creative tasks, your capacity for innovation, your memory in general, and overall performance. Analysts are calling industry-wide trends in tech toward such environments the "affective revolution." Even if you don't work at Google, instituting features that promote employee well-being and mood can have a real effect on your bottom line.

The quantity of performance improvement comes from a series of experiments in which participants solved timed math problems. In one experiment, some watched a short comedy video first; those participants completed about 10 percent more problem sets in 10 minutes than those who didn't view the video. The inverse was true of those who experienced a "major unhappiness shock," such as bereavement or family illness, within the last two years. Those workers finished about 10 percent fewer problem sets than their unaffected colleagues.

While the researchers caution that they haven't established a firm correlation yet, it does seem like a good idea in general to make your employees glad to show up each day. More closely tying worker happiness to things like promotion and compensation could mark a major shift in management styles, not to mention self-reinforcing upward spirals. So if you've been holding off on conversations about work culture, the bottom line has some news for you — get on that, for everyone's sake.