Positive emotions are an important feedback system, influencing how we think and behave - in life-changing ways

Over the past decade, the study of human psychology has turned its attention to the beneficial role played by positive emotions. Positive emotions improve physical health, intellectual abilities, psychological resilience and our relationships.

Happiness is how we naturally talk about positivity - and all the benefits that flow from feeling upbeat. Happy is what we want for our children, and it’s what we want to be at work.

Barbara Fredrickson’s research has found moments of positivity, especially with others, nurture and energise us. Positive emotions encourage us to explore, learn, think creatively, trust and achieve more, making them the little engines of career and culture building.

Consider the role of these emotions at work:

Pride - fabulous for achievement
Pride fills us with warmth about what we’re doing and what we’re a part of. It enables us to dream a little bigger and achieve even more.

Interest – brilliant for productivity
Interest fuels focus and staying power. This energy keeps us committed through mundane or challenging tasks.

Affection – essential for retention
Affection is a social emotion that helps us build relationships. People rarely leave teams when they really like one another.

Happiness as a KPI

If you are going to prioritise a team performance indicator, make it happiness.

By asking about people’s happiness we’re asking them to reflect on their own direct experience and to assess it on their own terms.

This subjective approach is robust and used in surveys to track the wellbeing of nations. Unlike Employee Net Promoter Score and Employee engagement, which use organizational concerns to frame questions, measures of happiness put what’s important and motivational to employees front and centre.

Happiness is the best people KPI because it’s an outcome of positive work cultures which predicts organizational performance.

For example, our data shows that only a half point increase (on a 5-point scale) in team happiness directly predicts a 7% increase in productivity. And broader research shows that positive work cultures lead to a 6-12% higher share price growth.

We say the companies who have an engagement strategy know where they want to get to. The organizations who measure their progress with happiness know the best way of getting there. Read more here

Become happiness-focused to protect your unique work culture and catch problems early.

Check out The Happiness KPI in action


Five Ways to team happiness

What 23,000 employees in 8 countries can teach you about workplace happiness.

In 2008, our team was commissioned by the UK government to look at mental health and well-being. The goal? To provide evidence-based actions to improve personal well-being. In 2016, we used that research as inspiration to identify key drivers of happiness at work. We identified five behaviours that build happy teams and positive work cultures. Hover over each of the five icons to learn more.

Friendships. Laughter. A sense of belonging.

It is much easier to do great work when we are happy in the company of others. Teams who encourage, support and appreciate each other make problem solving, innovation and success possible.



Flexibility. Fair pay. Space for people’s life outside work.

Being treated with fairness and respect is fundamental to happier work. People flourish when organizations are responsive to their needs and value the energy they put in. Teams flourish when colleagues appreciate one another.

Be fair

Be fair

Trust. Delegate. The opportunity to self-organize.

Sharing responsibility and playing to people’s strengths can unleash an amazing potential in organizations. When people are able to be themselves and use their judgement, they do great work.



Stretch. Enjoyment. Setting realistic expectations.

People are happy in their jobs when they are absorbed and progressing their work. By making jobs interesting, organizations pull people into a space where they learn and achieve great things.



Pride. Purpose. Being part of a bigger picture.

Doing a job that we feel is genuinely worthwhile is a great source of motivation in our lives and it can sustain us through challenging times. Seeing beyond narrow business goals to how we help other people makes work more meaningful.



The Work Happy Report

That research we just mentioned? It went into this report that we wrote with recruitment company Robert Half International. The research was referenced worldwide with Forbes saying it “reveals the drivers behind employee happiness and how businesses can nurture a positive work culture.” We’re quite proud of it. We hope you like it.

Download it here

“Nic’s work has been at the forefront of measuring happiness and showing how improving it leads to a more profitable business.”

Tony Hsieh

Happiness is simple but not simplistic.

Now you know Friday is based on evidence, what are you waiting for?

Friday, don’t leave it to another day.