Did you know? Build in Wellbeing from the beginning

Lots of people feel instinctively that happiness and wellbeing at work must be important. But are they a business necessity or a ‘nice to have’. Surely it makes more sense to ensure your business is profitable and thriving before you start worrying about how people feel?

Increasingly research suggests that investing in employee wellbeing by ensuring positive work relationships, an emphasis on strengths-based development, and worker happiness has productivity pay-offs. So why delay, start promoting positive psychology practices at work today!


Our happiness and wellbeing is at least partly within our control - and it matters!

Here is a selection of evidence-based support for the promotion of positive psychology e.g. happiness and wellbeing at work. It is clear from the evidence that a large component of the happiness we feel is within our control, and that many, more than 50% of the population, are functioning at a less than optimal state. And that our emotional state affects our performance and productivity at work:

1)    40% of the variation we experience in our sense of happiness, compared to others, is within our control. 10% is due to circumstances beyond our control and 50% due to our genetic make-up and inheritance which dictates our set point of happiness. Our 40% is influenced by ‘intentional activity’. In other words we can affect the happiness of ourselves and others. The research behind this assertion is based on twin studies (the genetic component) and the long-lasting effect of changing circumstances on happiness levels (the circumstances) leaving 40% of the variation due to individual actions.

2)    54% of Americans are ‘moderately mentally healthy’ meaning they aren’t mentally ill but they lack great enthusiasm for life and are not actively and productively engaged with the world. 11% languish – just above clinical depression.

3)    Exercise can be as effective at treating clinical depression as medication, and have an effect for longer.

4)    People whose managers focus on their strengths as 2.5x more likely to be engaged at work than those whose managers focus on their weaknesses.

5)    Highly engaged employees take, on average, 3 sick days per annum, actively disengaged employees , 6+ per year.

6)    The least happy employees average 6 days absence a year, the most happy 1.5, in the UK and USA. Liking your colleagues produces the same absence correlation.

7)    Engaged employees give 57% more discretionary effort at work.

8)    Doctors in a positive mood before making a diagnosis make the correct diagnosis 19% faster than those who were in a neutral state.

9)    In a major fast food company an intervention to reduce management turnover (the retention of managers being a major problem for this sector) the approach using AI led to a retention rate 30% higher than when problem-solving techniques were used.

10) The happiest people at work are 180% more energised than the unhappiest, they contribute 25% more and achieve their goals 30% more. They are 47% more productive meaning they are contributing a day and a quarter more than their least happy colleagues per week.

11) The most happy are 50% more motivated than the least happy. 

12) People who are happier are 25% more effective and efficient than those who are least happy.

13) Feelings and behaviour are contagious: negative behaviour has a ripple effect to two degrees, but positive behaviour can reach to three degrees.

14) The more you want recognition, the less you want money in its place.

15) We lose 40% of our productivity flip-flopping between tasks – three lost hours in a typical 8-hour day.



These findings are collated from various sources, including particularly the work of Pryce-Jones and Lyubomirsky.


Other Resources

Sarah Lewis is the owner and principal psychologist of Appreciating Change. She is author of ‘Positive Psychology at Work’ and ‘Positive Psychology and Change’ both published by Wiley. She is also the lead author of 'Appreciative Inquiry for Change Management'.

See more Engagement, Leadership Skills, Performance Management and Positive Psychology articles articles in the Knowledge Warehouse.



Appreciating Change is skilled and experienced at supporting leaders in working in this challenging, exciting and productive way with their organisations. Find out more by looking at how we help with LeadershipCulture change and with employee Engagement.

For further information on these alternative approaches to change, please contact us or phone 07973 782 715. A selection of strength card packs are available from our online store.

If you want to know more about implementing approaches and processes that positively affect people’s happiness, engagement, motivation, morale, productivity and work relationships, see Sarah’s positive psychology books