Happiness is a prerequisite for success, not simply a result or happy byproduct. So say scientists and leading entrepreneurs.

Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos and author of Delivering Happiness at Work, famously grew a shoestring start-up to a $2 billion dollar company by creating a business model fuelled by happiness. He believes–and showed–that happiness at work can be a legitimate and highly successful path to profit, passion and purpose.

We agree. So why is happiness so important at work?

  • Happier people are more productive.
  • Happier people are healthier people.
  • Happier employees don’t leave as often.

Here is Tony’s ROI calculator if you want to test how much your business can benefit by increasing the happiness level of employees. His estimates are pretty modest. When multiplied they are really significant and cover increases to productivity from work performance, engagement, satisfaction, creativity and collaboration. They also include savings in sick leave and staff turnover.

Shawn Anchor, author of The Happiness Advantage, is another passionate advocate of happiness at work. He wants organisations and business leaders to pay attention to the very real value happy workers contribute to business performance. He makes a compelling case that the greatest competitive advantage in today’s economy is a happy and engaged workforce. Some of the business outcomes he cites in an HBR blog are increasing sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%. His blog follows a special issue of the Harvard Business Review dedicated to happiness at work.

Emerging research makes the link between a thriving workforce and better business performance absolutely clear. Happiness can have an impact at both the company and the country level. (HBR 2012).

One of the key reasons that happiness has so many benefits is that happiness is in fact a prerequisite for success, not simply a result or happy byproduct. This is the finding of landmark meta-study by some of the most respected positive psychology researchers and thinkers.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, Laura King and Ed Diener, examined over 200 studies conducted on 275,000 people worldwide, concluding that happiness leads to success in nearly every area of life domain.

Their study focussed on the benefits of frequent positive emotions, which is one of the hallmarks of wellbeing. When we feel good, we are more able to perform at our best. We think more flexibly and creatively. We are more willing to try new strategies, reach out to others, and spread positivity to the people around us. The psychological and social resources we build buffer challenges and keep us optimistic and curious about the future. The positive energy we generate is attractive to our colleagues and clients. That’s great for us, for them, and for our business!

Wouldn’t you like more happy people in your workplace?

Read more about the science, practice and impact of positive psychology on people’s happiness, performance and wellbeing in our free white paper on positive psychology.