Happy workplace, happy workers, greater productivity

March 16, 2015

WHILE the Transition Support Package helped businesses invest in productivity-boosting automation (“Package to boost productivity to be phased out”; Feb 24), there might also be a need to review the underlying assumptions about productivity and consider a different approach.

Professor Kishore Mahbubani attributes happiness and fun at work as being more effective contributors of productivity than economic incentives (“Want to be more productive? Have fun at work”; Feb 14).

There is support for this idea.

Researchers at the Harvard Business School found that happy workers who enjoy their work and have fun working together in a team perform their jobs better.

They also found that supervisors can improve employee happiness levels by “implementing a fair, collaborative, open, innovative culture”, where workers feel valued and appreciated.

Leaders play an essential role in creating happier and more productive workplaces. An organisation’s corporate culture is often a reflection of how its leaders and chief executives work and relate with their people.

Therefore, in order to effect a change in culture and employee engagement, leaders first need to walk the talk.

At the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM), we believe that happiness at work is important, and can have real business outcomes.

This does not refer only to productivity.

When kindness and graciousness are deeply rooted in an organisation’s culture, these workplaces will profit from greater synergy, employee engagement and loyalty, and more fulfilling working relationships. This translates into a more motivated workforce and lower staff turnover, so employers can better retain talent.

Since 2013, the SKM has promoted a [email protected] initiative aimed at generating happier and more gracious workplace environments in Singapore.

The programme engages business leaders and encourages them to make firm commitments to kindness in the workplace, in ways that fit within existing employee engagement programmes.

Ultimately, people are at the heart of productivity.

Beyond training employees and investing in machinery, another avenue to uncover productivity is through a happy and engaged workforce.

And for that to happen, leaders – both in business and government – must drive the change.

Dr William Wan
General Secretary
Singapore Kindness Movement

First published in The Straits Times – March 16, 2015

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