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How Employee Attitudes Affect Workplace Productivity

Most employers sense intuitively that the attitudes of their employees have a huge impact on workplace productivity, but now there’s some science to back that up. According to HR in Asia, a group of researchers at the University of Warwick conducted a series of four experiments on a total of 713 subjects. After analysing the results, they concluded that happy employees are approximately 12 percent more productive than unhappy employees. Other studies have found that employees who feel a sense of ownership toward their work do a better job than those who feel disengaged from their jobs.

So there is now scientific proof that there is a tangible productivity benefit to having a happy workforce. Here are a few insights into just how that happens:



Happy employees are more likely to feel engaged. In other words, they take a sense of pride and ownership in the work they do rather than just showing up for a shift and doing the minimal amount possible. Engaged employees identify with the company and internalize the company’s goals as their own, making them much more likely do more than merely what is expected. Moreover, they’re more likely to offer suggestions for improvement, even if the improvement won’t benefit them directly.

Employees who are not engaged, on the other hand, are more likely to spend work time on personal business, whether making phone calls or checking their social media accounts. They’re also more likely to call in sick when they’re actually not, all of which negatively effects workplace productivity.


Attitude is contagious. That’s especially true for negative attitudes, and it works to create a culture that’s directly detrimental to productivity. The more negative the culture, the more likely employees are to devote time to backstabbing, complaining, gossiping, etc. In one survey, 77 percent of respondents said that they had such witnessed childish behavior in the workplace. That’s especially harmful in environments where employees must work in teams, because unhappy employees are less likely to put effort toward social norms like compromise and active listening. In addition, people devote more energy toward maintaining a negative attitude than a positive one. In other words, unhappy employees spend more time thinking about their mood than happy employees.

Customer service

Unhappy employees can also affect productivity through their interactions with customers. If they’re unhappy with the employer, they have little motivation to try hard to maintain the customer’s good will. That can manifest itself in everything from slow response times to inadequate responses to outright rudeness.

Change adaptation

Unhappy employees are more likely to resist change, even when that change would lead to a more productive workplace. Happy employees, on the other hand, are more likely to accept change and might even value it, especially if they think the change will benefit their jobs or career opportunities.

The evidence is clear: Happy employees lead to a more productive workplace. With optimal productivity becoming ever more important in today’s competitive environment, wise employers will make employee satisfaction a priority for their business.

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