Happiness Boosts profits (an interview with…me!)

Happiness Boosts profits (an interview with…me!)

By Danny Rose


May 15, 2009 06:08pm

AS Australian companies push for efficiencies amid the economic gloom, an expert is urging bosses to not overlook a key driver of profitability – happiness.

“Who is going to work harder and longer, a happy person or a miserable person?” says Dr Timothy Sharp, an adjunct professor in positive psychology.

He has a simple message for chief executives and chief financial officers: “Happiness at work leads to productivity and profitability.”

Dr Sharp, who’s with the School of Business at the University of Technology Sydney, says bosses should be actively engaged in increasing the happiness levels of their staff.

He says that doesn’t necessarily mean taking workers on white-water rafting trips on company time. It can be as simple as giving staff a sense of clarity and consequence.

“People will work much better if there is some clarity about what they need to do … there are a lot of people out there who don’t know what is expected of them, or it changes and they’re not told,” says Dr Sharp, who is also the founder of The Happiness Institute.

“There are also a lot of people now who do very specific jobs (as) one part of a chain.

“They don’t see the end result of their endeavours and that can detract from their satisfaction that they would otherwise have.”

He says staff should be given an opportunity to “physically get out” of their work environments and see the results of labours that improve other people’s lives.

He notes that many modern workplaces have made efforts to promote happiness through “healthy living” and cites initiatives such as gym access or fruit provided at work.

But he warns such positive steps can be easily undone.

“It’s in your interest as an employer to make sure your employees get good sleep. Obviously there’s a limit on what you can do about that, but … don’t ask people to work ridiculous hours,” he says.

He also has some words of advice for workers.

“Nobody is putting a gun to your head to go into the office,” he says.

“Remember it’s a choice … you decide how you approach work, not only whether you walk in the door, but the attitude you take to work.”