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The pursuit of happiness: Positivity and performance among UK managers

We checked UK managers' health, happiness and performance in an effort to understand how managers rate themselves and to discover the key factors that influence their performance.

We found that happiness at work and good performance are closely interlinked, feeding into and influencing one another. The full report details the support and development we can offer managers to maximise their wellbeing and drive productivity.

What we found

Happiness and positivity

We found that happier managers believe they are performing to a higher standard, creating a more positive working environment.

But it's not just a manager’s own happiness that impacts performance. Managers who thought their reports were happy scored themselves as happier and more productive. This suggests that happiness flows both up and down through an organisation.

Stress and workload

The ability to cope with stress and manage workload is an important part of being a happy and successful manager. Managers who rated their performance highly also rated themselves highly in their ability to cope with stress and workload.

But stress does not always have a negative impact on performance. The right degree of stress can be a spur to productivity, while none at all can breed complacency.

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Generally, managers feel they are performing well enough. CEOs and senior leaders rate their performance highest, while first line managers feel they are performing worst. Those who have been in their organisation between one and two years are the best performers overall. After two years, levels of happiness and performance decrease – 'the two-year itch'.

Development and training

Managers who have clear access to training and development are more likely to be happy and perform at a higher level. A perceived lack of access leads to disillusionment, particularly if an employee has been at an organisation for more than two years. Feedback, coaching and access to a well-developed training programme emerge as key areas where employers can enhance opportunities, happiness and performance among their staff.

What next?

Our research provided a snap-shot of the current state of UK management, and the important relationship between positivity, performance and development. It also highlights opportunities for organisations to drive and improve positivity and productivity.

Links and resources

Resources for centres