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The Case Against A Happy Workforce

May 22nd, 2017

happy workers"Happy workers are more productive workers."

That's been said so often it has become an article of faith among human resource professionals and the occupational psychologists who study such things.And there's certainly no shortage of studies purporting to show the relationship between happiness and bottom line yields. One of the newest was published last month in IZA — Journal of European Labor. It confirmed a correlation between worker wellbeing -- happiness -- and productivity.

It certainly seems intuitive that a happy worker is going to be more engaged and more productive. But what if that's wrong? What if less than always upbeat, positive employees were just as productive? What if they were at least in some instances, more productive?

As implausible as that seems, that's the argument Ab Banerjee makes in an article on the HR information site, The CEO of ViewsHub, a ratings and feedback platform, Banerjee marshals the research evidence to make the case that happy employees tend to be a homogeneous, agreeable group where the lack of creative tension leads to complacency.

He says, "To innovate and create, you need that spark and energy that comes through competition and rivalry because without conflict there can be no progress."

"No one wants a depressed, stressed-out, unengaged, sad workforce," he agrees. However, in the highly competitive, fast-moving world of modern business, companies need to be agile and innovative.

Says Banerjee, "Happy companies do not necessarily survive. It’s fit companies that do. It’s the survival of the fittest – and not survival of the happiest."

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