With most business leaders still trying to unlock the secrets of employee productivity, one piece of research is suggesting the answer may lie in comedy and chocolate.
During a study by the University of Warwick, researchers found of the 700 participants who were given chocolates or fruit and watched a clip of stand-up comedian Bill Bailey performed 10-12% better on a productivity task than their peers who watched a placebo video and were given nothing to eat.
The study also reversed the experiment, asking participants about any recent tragedies, and also found those who had unhappy memories performed worst on the test.
These finding support several other pieces of research which have linked personal happiness with productivity.
“To our knowledge, it is the first such evidence – though we would like to acknowledge the work of the late Alice Isen with in the field of psychology – in a true piece-rate setting,” the report said.
“Our study is also the first to exploit information on tragic family life events as a ‘natural’ experiment and to gather within – person information in a longitudinal way.”
So what does this mean for leaders? While it may be too much to ask managers to screen a comedic clip every morning before work, rewarding staff with something as simple as chocolates or recognising their work and maintaining a positive working culture will on some level boost productivity and engagement.
“If well-being boosts people’s performance at work, this raises the possibility, at the microeconomic level and perhaps even the macroeconomic level, of self-sustaining spirals between human productivity and human well-being,” the report said.