Recalling successful tasks can boost employee engagement

Aug 12 2009 by Barry Wade Print This Article

Managers could achieve a 15% boost in happiness among their employees simply by ensuring they all focus at least once a day on an element of their job the previous day that went well, according to a leading academic studying the nature of happiness.

The University of Hertfordshire's Professor Richard Wiseman, who has been heading up a unique mass-participation happiness experiment , told Management Issues that the findings from his work could aid managers in boosting employee engagement and productivity.

"Thinking about one thing positive from the previous day was the most effective technique we found for boosting happiness. The group showed a 15% rise in happiness. And this could easily be used by managers in the workplace, in fact all the techniques could," he said.

Expressing gratitude, smiling, carrying out an act of kindness and simply thinking about the previous day were all techniques to boost happiness tested by Wiseman. All could lead to increased employee engagement he told Management Issues.

Research released last year by Sonja Lubomirsky and Ed Diener from the USshowed that employee happiness offers a range of benefits at work. Improved self-confidence and leadership led to higher supervisor ratings because of improved performance, they found.

People happy at work also have better health and longevity. They have stronger immune systems, better cardiovascular health, and they have fewer lifestyle diseases such as alcoholism, which all translates into to fewer sick days.

The good news for employers is that scientists believe that adopting techniques such as Wiseman's can train staff into greater long-term happiness. The brain is plastic, they say, and the areas associated with happiness and optimism can be developed to become more prominent.