Unhappy Employees are Very Productive





Unhappy Employees are Very Productive


Various organizations and professionals across the globe have been trying to determine and embrace strategies that could result in excellent performance of their businesses. Precisely, productivity of employees has been a major aspect of concern because profitability and success of a firm depends primarily on the efforts of their workforce. As such, interested parties and scholars have conducted varied researches and experiments in attempt to determine if satisfied and happy employees perform better their dissatisfied and unhappy counterparts. Even so, the effects of faulty intuitions could adversely impact on the quality of conclusions that such researchers make.


Unhappy employees are not always unproductive because some of them could perform exceptionally well like their happy counterparts.

Literature Review

Existing literature suggests that happy employees are good performers. Cropanzano and Wright (194) claim that depression among unhappy employees attracts unpleasantness which leads to poor activation. In other words, Cropanzano and Wright support the thesis that happy employees exhibit high performance. Besides, Zelenski, Murphy and Jenkins assert that even high level executive officers in private and public sectors demonstrate high performance when they are happy (533). Likewise, Fogaça andCoelho Junior claim that wellbeing, job satisfaction and suitable organizational structure are among crucial aspects that encourage high performance among employees (156). Also, Sageer, Rafat, andAgarwal suggest that happy employees demonstrate moral behaviors that encourage customer attraction and retention (39). Still, Friedman and Lobel claim that happy workaholic employees are crucial workforce for an organization because they strive to satisfy their needs as well as those of their firms (406). Thus, “the Happy Workaholic executive realizes that part of the leadership responsibility is to help employees align their values and actions (Friedman and Lobel 406).” Nonetheless, Saari and Judge claim that the link between happiness, or attitude and employee’s job satisfaction and performance is yet to be established (404). Therefore, further studies should be conducted to unravel if the widespread assumption that happy employees are productive workers is a faulty intuition or not.

Research Method

A qualitative research method would be employed in the study due to the focus on non-quantifiable elements. Besides, secondary sources of data would be used.

Findings and Discussions

Although some studies show that happy employees are highly productive, unhappy workers could perform exceptionally well. Specifically, unhappy employees could demonstrate high levels of attention and caution while handling their duties and responsibilities. As a result, unhappy people could make relatively few mistakes and errors unlike their happy counterparts who may not pay adequate attention and care on their jobs.

Unhappy employees are probably working under certain levels of stress. As such, they have relatively high degrees of efforts and capabilities because they are trying to attain specific goals and objectives that could have been dictated by their employers. Thus, unhappy employees could assume that their only source of happiness is satisfactory accomplishment of their roles. For example, an employee could be happier on attaining or exceeding set targets concerning their job performance.

Behaviors of workers play a crucial role in dictating their performance. As such, unhappy employees could demonstrate satisfactory productivity if they exhibit appropriate workplace behaviors. For instance, Leblebici asserts that “while the employees are unhappy with the physical conditions of the workplace, they have remarkable satisfaction with the workplace by having strong behavioral workplace conditions (47).” Thus, a workforce could perform exceptionally well despite the presence of unfavorable work conditions that are perceived to adversely impact on a worker’s productivity.

Additionally, unhappy staff could exhibit satisfactory performance and low-turnover rates. In with that line, a study by Zenger and Folkman shows that middle-level managers act as the dissatisfied category of employees, yet they exhibit high productivity, no absenteeism and work for extended durations in their organizations (3). Since workers understand that they have an obligation to handle their roles and responsibilities effectively, the concept of happiness could have insignificant impacts on their performance.


Overall, unhappy workers could perform exceptionally well compared to their happy counterparts. Since unhappy employees are working under certain levels of stress and pressures, they tend to be more keen and careful while handling their duties. As such, happiness of such types of employees would come after attaining satisfactory performances. Hence, the popular notion that happy employees are more productive could signify how faulty intuitions adversely affect humans.

Works Cited

Cropanzano, Russell, and Thomas A. Wright. “When a” happy” worker is really a” productive” worker: A review and further refinement of the happy-productive worker thesis.” Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research 53.3 (2001): 182.

Fogaça, Natasha, and Francisco Antônio Coelho Junior. “Is “happy worker” more productive.” Management 4.4 (2016): 149-160.

Friedman, Stewart D., and Sharon Lobel. “The happy workaholic: A role model for employees.” Academy of Management Perspectives (2003).Leblebici, Demet. “Impact of workplace quality on employee’s productivity: case study of a bank in Turkey.” Journal of Business, Economics 1.1 (2012): 38-49.

Saari, Lise M., and Timothy A. Judge. “Employee attitudes and job satisfaction.” Human Resource Management: Published in Cooperation with the School of Business Administration, The University of Michigan and in alliance with the Society of Human Resources Management 43.4 (2004): 395-407.

Sageer, Alam, Sameena Rafat, and Puja Agarwal. “Identification of variables affecting employee satisfaction and their impact on the organization.” IOSR Journal of business and management 5.1 (2012): 32-39.

Zelenski, John M., Steven A. Murphy, and David A. Jenkins. “The happy-productive worker thesis revisited.” Journal of Happiness Studies 9.4 (2008): 521-537.

Zenger, Jack, and Joseph Folkman. “Why middle managers are so unhappy.” HBR, Harvard (2014).

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