Letter: Happiness, the missing link in workplace productivity

My letter published in TODAY, 22 Jan 2013


From Vadivu Govind

Firms are reportedly keen to improve productivity but 53 per cent are “unsure of how and where to get started”, as reported in “Firms keen to improve productivity but …” (Jan 10).

While there has been a lot of discussion on the need to improve productivity, I have not read anything on the link between productivity and workplace happiness.

Research has shown that happier employees are more productive and creative and perform better. These employees take less sick leave and have more collaborative relationships at work.

There is also research on what happiness at work means. Meaningful, genuine appreciation is one way to help employees be happy. Another is to help them optimise their strengths and see their work as worthwhile. Compassion for employees as humans is critical.

As a workplace happiness consultant, I once had a manager tell me: “I don’t care about my staff’s happiness. I just want the work done”.

This kind of thinking reduces productivity and makes workplaces toxic. If people flourish at work, businesses and our society will flourish, too.

Empowering Public Servants

My letter published the The Straits Times Forum Page, 12 Oct 2012.

I really want to thank Germaine Chow for sharing the video of Mr Tan and his dogs with me and making me aware of this case. We both cried watching the video and I’m glad the tears have been transformed into this published letter. Thank you, Germaine, for CARING!


Empowering public servants

I APPLAUD Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam’s support for cancer patient Tan Cheng Chu (“Minister speaks up for cancer patient”; last Saturday), who was asked to give up one of his two dogs as the rules allow only one dog in an HDB flat.

I hope leaders of all government agencies empower their officers to practise wisdom and compassion.

This requires courage because if they make an exception to the rule or do something compassionate that is not usually done, they might get some flak for it.

But if they do not, then the humanity vital to the proper exercise of their duties is absent, and the job could well be one that a machine can replicate.

Vadivu Govind (Ms)