Google Life: Why Your Happiness Should Matter to Employers

Google Employee

Whether you are married or not, you have likely heard the phrase “happy wife, happy life” uttered by someone at some point in your life. Well, when it comes to a company’s work environment, the phrase should be changed to “happy employee, happy bottom line.”

This mentality for keeping employees happy has been embraced by companies like Google by offering more creative work environments. Free food, playroom-like environment, ability to work from home, complimentary massages, free yoga classes and much more are a staple of Google offices. To put it simply, Google has become the “Gold Standard” to make a corporate work environment, well, feel less corporate.

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Now, not all companies have the ability to offer such luxuries to their employees—however, a recent study conducted by Oswald, Proto and Sgroi shared by CareerBuilder had some intriguing statistics employers and employees should take note of. In this week’s “Three for Thursday,” we will examine three of the study’s findings and share why or why not this should matter to you as an employee.

“Showing employees a comedy clip makes them 13 percent more productive”

The article stated that even though not everyone found the clip funny, “…there was a 13 percent increase in productivity. The increase in productivity was higher among those people whose mood was boosted the most by the clip.”

At a former employer, our team would send funny memes and videos to each other—until the company banned the sharing of videos and memes with each other via email. Prior to the ban, it did seem as if our team’s morale and beginning of the day productivity was much higher during this time period than after it.

If your employer does not embrace this mentality, there are a few email newsletters you can sign up for to make sure your day starts off on the right foot. Just search Google, find one you like and sign up.

“Free food and drinks also boost productivity by 15 percent”

According to the study, “Researchers gave workers chocolate bars, fruit and water, and 10 minutes to enjoy them prior to the work session. Getting food and drink made people 15 percent more productive compared to those who did not receive this benefit.”

Google is known for offering a wide-variety of food and drinks for free for their employees, as Vince Vaughn learned while in line on his first day at Google in the movie The Internship—as long as you do not take the food home with you, of course.

Free food and drinks can be viewed by employers as an expense they do not need to bare for their employees, however, it is certainly a perk that breeds productivity. One of my past employers had a stocked kitchen for breakfast, lunch and even dinner for employees who worked later. From this experience, I can tell you it was great to not have to worry about making breakfast before I left for work, packing a lunch or trying to figure out what was near the office to have enough time to eat and relax during lunch before heading back to my desk. Also, not having to spend my hard-earned money on breakfast and lunch was a major perk as well.

From a productivity standpoint, I actually found myself heading back to my desk 15 minutes or so early from my lunch break because I did not have to leave and eat. I would sit down with a few co-workers, eat lunch and then head back to my desk to hit the phones earlier than I needed to. Oh, and if you need a snack while you are working—you can get up and go grab one without having to leave the building, that was a major plus!

“People who are unhappy in their personal lives are less productive at work”

In order to do this, the study examined students at a university. The study stated, “Students who had recently had a death or illness in the family reported lower levels of happiness and were 10 percent less productive than students who did not experience such sad events.”

This was not a surprising finding, as distracted employees are usually less productive. While employers cannot do anything about deaths in the family, illness and general unhappiness outside of work can be combatted through work environment options.

Google offers complimentary massages, free yoga classes, the ability to get up and be creative and move throughout the office building for collaboration, work from home options and much more—more companies should look into these options. These are items that can help take someone’s mind off the distractions causing them to be unhappy outside of work.

Also, not having to use a personal day when sick and instead work from home and be productive is a huge positive from employees. Imagine living in a world where your personal days were actually used to be removed from work instead of having to worry about it? Yeah, that is going to boost productivity while in the office in a major way.

Final Word

Why is all of this important to you as a job seeker?

Well, put simply—you need to define the type of work environment you want to be part of. Many employers are adapting to more comfortable work environments as time has gone on (though very few have reached optimal Googliness level as of yet), so you no longer have to just accept a work environment that is not going to work well because you “need a job.”

Find out what makes you feel productive while doing your job, and target that type of work environment while applying for jobs. Ultimately if you are not happy going to work for 8-plus hours a day, you are going to negatively impact the company hiring you at the same time.

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