Happy Co-Worker on Computer

Does it matter if the people you work with are happy? Trust me, it does.

Economists at the University of Warwick carried out a number of experiments to test the idea that happy employees work harder. In the laboratory, they found that happiness made people about 12% more productive. The takeaway: Positive emotions invigorate people. 

Another study looked at whether morale made a difference in company value. They separated large organizations into high, medium, or low morale categories, with high morale defined as 70% or more of employees expressing overall job satisfaction. The findings? Happy workers grow company value. The stock prices of companies in the high-morale group grew 19.4%, compared with only 10% for the low/medium morale group. 

The value doesn’t stop there. According to a Gallup State of the American Workplace study, employees with high overall “well-being” have 41% lower health-related costs compared with employees who are struggling, and 62% lower costs compared with employees who are “suffering.” And a study by Willis, Towers, Perrin found that higher employee engagement, productivity and morale contribute to major financial returns and competitive advantages.

On the flipside, unhappiness at work can be expensive.

The American Psychological Association estimates that 550 million workdays are lost each year due to stress on the job. 60%-80% of workplace accidents are attributed to stress. And workplace stress has been linked to health problems ranging from metabolic syndrome to cardiovascular disease and mortality. 

Especially in a hybrid work world, you can’t take your team’s happiness for granted. What do I mean by hybrid work world? Its what we’ve got after a global pandemic – some folks working from home, zooming in to a meeting, some face-to-face in the office, some working from the far reaches of the planet.  It’s definitely no longer a one-size-fits all model. And with people in so many different environments, it’s too easy to disengage or feel they’re not being heard. And that’s a recipe for unhappiness.

How to Increase Your Hybrid Work Team’s Happiness

To be happier at work, people need two things: A meaningful vision of the future and great relationships. How can you build these into your hybrid work team? Take a minute out to honestly reflect on these questions:

  1. Do all of your team members connect to a meaningful and inspiring vision of the future? One way to make sure is to have one-to-one conversations with each of them and share what you are working towards. Connect them to the big reason for doing what they do. Share the vision. Share what difference it makes  and why they should care about it.  Invite each team member to connect the dots about how their contribution rolls up to this larger vision.
  • What are you doing to encourage your team members to have great relationships with one another? Because great relationships don’t just happen. As the leader, you have to create ways and reasons for your team to be connected while working in the hybrid world. They may not see one another in person for a while.

Look at this as an opportunity to get creative! One team leader I know hosts “Cheers for Peers.” It’s a weekly virtual meeting where peers share about the good things they have seen in one another during the week. They offer their appreciation for and recognition of each other, and an amazing thing happens: Suddenly, everyone feels more seen and heard.

Work can be a place you come to for laughter and fulfillment. I have the privilege of calling my workmates my closest friends. Spend a minute thinking about what you could do today to make the people you work with remotely happier.


  • Dede Henley


    Henley Leadership Group

    I have been in the field of leadership development since 1982. I founded Henley Leadership Group 20 years ago to help leaders and organizations create more equitable and productive workplaces and ignite the nascent leadership potential of employees at all levels. Through individual coaching and programs designed to generate positive business results, Henley Leadership Group has served thousands of corporate leaders in a variety of industries, including healthcare, technology, energy and finance. Away from work, I live with my husband, and try not to meddle too much in the lives of my half-dozen kids.