Why happiness pays off and how artificial intelligence helps to increase productivity

April 18, 2023
Joanna Nikodemska

Measure the happiness of your citizens and use the obtained data in public policy – announced the United Nations in 2011, in the recently adopted resolution on happiness. A year later, The Prime Minister of Bhutan, a kingdom that has embraced gross national happiness as the main indicator of its development, chaired the meeting at which the World Happiness Report is presented, attracting widespread attention.

In the classification of 154 countries, Denmark turned out to be the happiest. It has held top spot on the podium for a number of years, but it has recently been overtaken by Finland, which occupies it to this day. The Happiness Research Institute is established in Copenhagen. It turns out that Scandinavians may indeed live in prosperity, but a work-life balance is key to their satisfaction with life.

The knowledge gained in this think tank is transformed by its boss, Meik Wiking, into widely read books ("Hygge. The key to happiness", and "Lykke. Joy and happiness".) He advises cities, governments and businesses on how to pursue happiness, and transform material wealth into mental well-being. When he visits Poland (48th place in the Happiness Rankings), he repeats to the media that luck always pays off – and also in business. It has a key impact on innovation, creativity and productivity.

Many studies have shown that happier people are more willing to work, they are less stressed, they have higher immunity and are less likely to fall ill. They concentrate on work because they are not distracted by worries; they have the strength to involve themselves. And vice versa – health, financial and family problems take away energy, reducing efficiency, effectiveness and resilience.

More carrot, less stick

What else have scientists discovered about happiness?

  • There are many factors that affect the level of happiness, and we are unaware of many of them. Some can be controlled (social relations, contact with nature), others unfortunately not (gender, age, genes, culture).
  • The belief that successful random events will bring us happiness is false.
  • Unwanted personality traits that can interfere with your happiness can be corrected with psychotherapy.
  • The level of happiness changes with age, it is U-shaped (at first it is high, then it decreases, and increases again in old age).
  • Money only helps you to be happy up to a certain level.

The results of scientific research have made employers aware that increasing job satisfaction and satisfaction have an impact on efficiency. Employees have started to care about their well-being. The foundation of all activities is a favourable organisational culture and a healthy work environment, in which:

  • partnership relations prevail, communication is transparent,
  • employees are properly appreciated,
  • their health and well-being are respected, as are their needs and expectations.

A new role at work appeared in Western markets several years ago – Chief Happiness Officer (CHO). The Happiness Director is responsible for increasing employee satisfaction and building employee engagement.

In Poland, this is not yet a popular trend, although the situation of employers is difficult due to the oversupply of work, strong competition and problems with retaining qualified employees. The most valuable people are currently the greatest capital of knowledge-based companies and organisations. Development is impossible without experts, and the frequent turnover of personnel increases costs and exposes employers to risk.

A good manager is able to attract and select key specialists in the industry. However, keeping them is one of the greatest challenges facing successful organisations.

There are many methods. Of course, the basis for these is attractive earnings, rewards and benefits that help employees take better care of themselves. People who are satisfied with their working conditions can satisfy higher needs: self-fulfilment, respect and recognition.

"Happier employees are not only more effective and more present at work, they are also more likely to remain loyal to the organization they feel comfortable in," notes Malcolm Emery, a British scientist who studies the impact of lifestyle on health and well-being and founder of several companies in the field of preventive medicine.

Therefore, it is worth supporting employees at various levels, but in order to be effective, these activities should meet specific needs – and these are different, everyone also has their own happiness threshold. Proper diagnosis of needs is crucial, and there is already an innovative tool on the market to help you do it.

Diagnosis and recovery plan

I am talking about Workwell, an application running in the Internet cloud. It was created by the aforementioned Malcolm Emery, currently head of the Praxis Workwell science and research company.

“The Workwell program was created, among others, in order to use artificial intelligence to identify and quantify factors that affect well-beingˮ, explains Emery. “Firstly, we conducted a survey on a group of 5,000 respondents. The developed responses served as a knowledge base for artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms.

Workwell allows you to measure 200 factors influencing the quality of life from various areas, such as genetics, environment and culture. Then, it identifies factors that reduce performance and makes detailed recommendations for the employee in the form of an individual action plan.

The forms are confidential and intended only for those taking the test. The employer also receives recommendations, the implementation of which may improve the quality of life, productivity and morale of employees, and as a result, the image and profitability of the entire organization.

Additionally, Workwell assesses employee engagement. This element is becoming increasingly important, especially in knowledge-based organizations where retention of specialists is crucial.

“Adding this module made it possible to calculate costs for the organisation in terms of sickness absenteeism, presenteeism and staff turnover,” says Malcolm Emery.

The project was implemented, among others, in a UK government organisation, and COVID-19-related questions have been added to the algorithms to see how the pandemic has affected workers' well-being and what support can be given to them to maintain productivity.

The world after COVID

First of all, the pandemic made it painfully clear that modern technology is not a whim or a square peg in a round hole. Organisations that invested in the right solutions and provided a flexible work environment survived the lockdown seamlessly. Others had to undergo rapid and accelerated digital transformation, exposing themselves to enormous risks.

The longer the epidemic situation required remote working, the more advantages both sides began to see in it. Employers saved on office maintenance (cleaning, security, heating, service), shifting some of the costs onto employees who financed the internet, water, coffee, soap, electricity and paper themselves.

The pandemic-induced changes in the organisation of work, however, provided employees with a flexibility that they previously could only dream of.


  • they did not waste money and time commuting to work
  • they could take better care of children and animals
  • they spent more time with their family
  • eating at home, they ate better
  • they spent less on clothes and cosmetics
  • they worked in their favourite conditions

Not surprisingly, while the pandemic has subsided, the new normal has endured. People have a choice of how they want to work: in the office, hybrid working or remotely. Such flexibility also helps counteract the phenomenon of presenteeism, i.e. ineffective / superficial presence at work, which was the bane of many organisations before the pandemic.

An apparently present employee

Everyone has something wrong with themselves sometimes, and this is perfectly normal. But it is usually forgotten that when the body is not demanding, the mind also fails. Breakdown, a drop in energy levels, sleepiness, and pain are signals that the body sends to direct energy to fight illness. If you ignore these symptoms when you come to work, you can expect the following:

  • difficulties with concentration, which will make it difficult to perform tasks and expose you to mistakes,
  • a lack of strength and drop in efficiency by up to 40%,
  • irritability that can turn into stress and conflict,
  • lengthening of the recovery period.

Presenteeism is bad for health, work and the entire organisation. Behind it is a sense of responsibility, fear of consequences, deadline pressure and the inability to delegate tasks.

By caring for the well-being of employees, by pursuing a pro-health policy, you can counteract presenteeism. On the other hand, the ability to work remotely – in the case of minor incidents – is the best and safest solution for all parties concerned.

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