Productivity & Happiness

Why are happy people more productive?

How does this work? Happy people are more energetic, fulfill their tasks quicker and radiate a certain tranquility. The scientists J.M. George and A.P. Brief explain the happy-productive-worker as follows: positive emotions strengthen the expectation that the own efforts eventually will be successful. Happiness and productivity could therefore correlate due to the fact that happy persons own a higher perceived self-efficacy. Or put it differently, a person´s beliefs to complete tasks and reach goals with his own strength and abilities. A happy and productive person is for his own sake already desirable. But also companies can directly enjoy full economic benefits from happy employees. Employers should protect their employees from too high stress and pressure. Additionally, they should encourage and support their employees’ strengths and abilities. This contributes to more productive and happier employees which results in a win-win situation.
Professor Oswald’s aim is to sensitize companies, science and people to consider the important correlation between happiness and productivity. The focus should shift more on the awareness of this fact. Happy employees are more productive and achieve successful results. Success is very positive for the company, moreover, makes human happy. In the long-term companies should scrutinize their employees’ happiness very carefully.


  1. George J.M., Brief A.P. (1992). Feeling good-doing good: a conceptual analysis of the mood at work-organizational spontaneity relationship. Psychological Bulletin, 112 (2), 310-329.
  2. Lyubomirsky, Sonja, King, Laura & Diener, Ed. (2005). The Benefit of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness lead to Success? Psychological Bulletin, 131 (6), 803-855.
  3. Oswald, Andrew J., Proto, Eugenio & Sgroi, Daniel. (2009). Happiness and Productivity. Econstor, IZA discussion papers, 4645, 1-52.
  4. Wright, Thomas A. & Cropanzano R. (2004). The Role of Psychological Well-Being in Job Performance: A Fresh Look at an Age-Old Quest. Organizational Dynamics, 33 (4), 338-351.
  5. Wright, Thomas A. & Staw Barry M. (1999). Affect and favorable work outcomes: two longitudinal tests of the happy-productive worker thesis. Journal of Organizational Behavior. 20, 1-23.
  6. Oswald, Andrew J., Proto, Eugenio & Sgroi, Daniel. (2009). Happiness and Productivity. Econstor, IZA discussion papers, 4645, 1-52.
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  • Prof. Dr. Andrew Oswald Professor of Economics, University of Warwick
  • Prof. Dr. Ronnie Schöb Professor for International Public Economics, Free University Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Ruut Veenhoven Emeritus Professor Social Conditions of Human Happiness, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Prof. Dr. Carmelo Vazquez President of the International Positive Psychology association
  • Prof. Dr. Marc Hassenzahl Folkwang University Essen
  • Dr. Martijn Burger Academic Director Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organisation
  • Dr. Adam Okulicz Kozaryn Researcher Rutgers University
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