Discover why the public sector should consider happiness-boosting benefits alongside stress-reduction measures – and how Boundless can help.
In life, it’s always a bonus when something works well on more than one level. And the same goes for work, too.
Most of us would agree that we have a strong preference for working with people who are happy – quite simply, it’s a more pleasant experience. And not only is it good for your employees (and for you, of course) to work with happy colleagues, it’s good for the all-important bottom line too.
The Boundless Happiness Survey, which set out to discover how happy people are in life and in work, found that almost nine in 10 employees feel that they work better and are more productive when they’re happier and less stressed*. Given the challenges – different but equally significant – facing the public and private sectors, an opportunity to improve productivity is difficult to dismiss.
The research from Boundless, which was based on employees’ responses, is backed up by research at Warwick University that provides a scientific validation of these results**. As Daniel Sgroi , one of the researchers behind this work, says in a paper for the Social Market Foundation, “there is surprisingly little work on the importance of happiness as an input to economic processes or measures such as productivity.”
Sgroi and two colleagues set out to change this, and their experiments showed that happier individuals achieved approximately 12 per cent greater productivity than a control group. It also showed that, conversely, lower happiness is systemically associated with lower productivity.
Their research also differentiated between productivity due to increased effort and increased ability, and found that “the main route from happiness to productivity is through increased effort from workers”.
As Sgroi goes on to highlight, since rises of three per cent or so are considered very large in terms of economic growth, the scale of this effect cannot be dismissed.
Most workplace wellbeing strategies, however, seem to be focused elsewhere. The Boundless Happiness Survey points out that there have been many high-profile surveys and white papers looking into stress in the public-sector workplace, examining the effect of health, mental health and productivity. And the CIPD’s Health and Wellbeing at Work 2019 survey† reports that most public sector organisations are taking steps to reduce stress, albeit with mixed levels of effectiveness.
The CIPD’s survey also reveals that despite their efforts, just two-fifths of those taking steps believe their organisation manages work-related stress effectively. And almost the same number of respondents in the public sector report their organisation is much more reactive than proactive on employee wellbeing. This is much better than private sector, where nearly half believe they are much more reactive than proactive.
Given the evidence that happiness has a direct effect on productivity, is it time organisations focused on promoting this, alongside strategies to identify and reduce stress?
As the Boundless white paper, Why the Public Sector Needs a Measure of Happiness says, the most important thing that managers, board members and HR departments can take from the Boundless Happiness Survey is that focusing entirely on alleviating stress levels in the workplace is only dealing with half the problem. It asks: how often do we stop to consider whether people at work are actually happy?
The answer appears to be not often enough.
Boundless is here to help everyone make the most out of their free time. We have lots of ideas for how to relax and unwind during well-deserved time off, inspiration for fun days out and short breaks, and ways to save on events and experiences that will create unforgettable weekends for everyone.
To find out how Boundless can support your health and wellbeing strategy, contact our team today: firstname.lastname@example.org.
* *Why the Public Sector Needs a Measure of Happiness at Work, Boundless and Censuswide, 2017 ** Happiness and productivity: Understanding the happy-productive worker, 2015. smf.co.uk † Health and Wellbeing at Work, 2019, CIPD. cipd.co.uk