In a piece at Fast Company adapted from his forthcoming book The Talent Delusion: Why Data, Not Intuition, Is the Key to Unlocking Human Potential, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzik insists that employers should not be in the business of making employees happy:
For starters, the notion that organizations should be interested in making their employees happy puts the cart before the horse. What employers truly care about (and this includes nonprofits and public agencies) is productivity, performance, and organizational effectiveness—and rightly so. It’s only because employees’ so-called engagement or job satisfaction enhances these outcomes that employers have a stake in boosting them. In fact, “engagement” is shorthand for a set of factors that are often mistaken as synonyms for “happiness. Unlike engagement, however, happiness doesn’t translate into higher levels of performance or productivity, and a relative degree of dissatisfaction will boost productivity and performance more than happiness does.
In fact, nothing of value would ever be created unless people are somewhat unhappy and therefore motivated to change their state of affairs. Long before the first Chief Happiness Officer was appointed, achievements large and small in art, science, and industry have resulted from people who’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to address their dissatisfaction with some aspect of reality. For example, successful innovators and entrepreneurs are energized by their annoyance with the status quo, and they channel their productive dissatisfaction into creating progress and change. Anyone who’s entirely contented is unlikely to innovate. With no imbalance to address, they grow complacent.
Chamorro-Premuzik’s argument here puts a fresh spin on the case against organizations attempting to maximize their employees’ happiness.