Workplace Wellness & Security

5 Studies That Prove Employee Happiness is Worth the Investment

David Spence
March 30th, 2016

A happy worker is a productive worker. We all rightly assume that this adage is true, but did you know that it can actually be backed up by science?

When considering changes to your office as a facilities manager, it’s important to always make data-driven decisions. That could either mean relying on your own office space data to decide on the best workplace layout or relying on research conducted by others to inform any new office additions.


With this in mind, we’re turning to the experts for advice. These five studies illuminate various ways you can improve employee happiness, all of which have important consequences for the proper functioning of your business and facilities. 

1. Happiness and productivity are linked

happiness productivity office

Happy people are more productive, according to research done by the University of Warwick. In the study, researchers found that people who identified as being happy were 12% more productive than those who didn’t. Happier workers are able to use their time more effectively, find it easier to focus when they sit down to do a task and are more likely to stay in the office longer or attend company functions.

Is your office design and workplace structure actually promoting worker happiness, or are you making your workers miserable? Try to find a balance between performance and design when laying out your space to optimize your workflow and create a space your employees will feel good about working in.

2. Too many hours lead to productivity decline

night office building

Here’s another reason you should cut back on the late nights at the office. Keeping your workers at the office longer may actually be causing a drop in productivity.

Research out of Stanford University shows that employee output significantly decreases after the 48-hour mark. This means that while you’re spending more money on hourly pay, fewer results are delivered by your team. Longer hours are also unattractive to employees and can be a reason for them to change jobs — and millennials are definitely taking that route. Instead of forcing your workers to stay longer, see if you can create a workplace that helps them to get more done while they’re at the office.

3. Indoor air quality can promote or prevent employee happiness

office plant air quality

Speaking of getting more work done, cleaner and higher quality air can actually improve productivity. The body and the mind are inextricably tied. When you’re breathing in low quality air, it’s much more difficult to sustain lasting focus.

Having a low-quality indoor air environment will also start to decrease workplace satisfaction, one study found. By installing clean air filters and adding live plants to the office, you’ll greatly improve the quality of the air inside, and the productivity of your workers as a result.

4. Facility managers improve workplace decision making

office management building

Recent research has found that facility managers are now playing a larger role in high-level decision making within organizations. As high as 30% of responding companies said they employed facility managers to make strategic decisions in the workplace related to both employee and building management.

This is revolutionary because one of the main roles of a facility manager is to increase employee happiness and productivity throughout the physical workplace and day-to-day business structure. We imagine this trend will continue to grow in the future, as workplace cultures continue to shift towards a younger and more flexible workforce that demands a balance of work and play.

5. Maximizing health is a business move

When employees miss work or become less productive at the office due to illness and fatigue, this causes losses to the bottom line of the company. Research suggests that we need to start thinking of maximizing employee health and happiness as a business investment, not just something we do out of the goodness of our hearts.

Chronic illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, back and neck pain, obesity and arthritis all impact productivity in a negative way. These costs to the company are potentially greater than medical costs, pharmacy costs and days spent off work. As a facility manager, it’s important to design an office that promotes worker health and happiness in order to avoid these illnesses from taking hold in the first place.

By focusing on employee happiness, you’re actually focusing on productivity and the bottom line of your company. Let these expert studies inform your decision making process and make happiness a priority.

Photos:Javier / Shutterstock, Patrick Tomasso, George Yanakiev, Tim Gouw, Ilya Mazurkevich