Happy Employees Redux


Awhile back I wrote about whether or not happy employees mean better business. It's a wonderful story to tell ourselves, but it doesn't hold up under research. Now, a new look at the issue is going so far as to say there is no performance-happiness or happiness-performance causation. Instead, the two are actually correlated.

Job satisfaction has traditionally been thought of by most business managers to be key in determining job performance. The prevailing thought is if you are satisfied and happy in your work, you will perform better than someone who isn't happy at work.

Not so, according to a research project by Nathan Bowling, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at Wright State. His findings, which will be published soon in the Journal of Vocational Behavior, show that although satisfaction and performance are related to each other, satisfaction does not cause performance.

"My study shows that a cause and effect relationship does not exist between job satisfaction and performance. Instead, the two are related because both satisfaction and performance are the result of employee personality characteristics, such as self-esteem, emotional stability, extroversion and conscientiousness," he explained.

I'm a skeptic when it comes to measuring *personality* because I don't think modern neuroscience supports the idea of a stable personality very well. As a result, my initial reaction is to take this research with a grain of salt.

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