Research Finds Helping Coworkers Makes Us Happier at Work

happy_employees

Julian Omidi discusses an article about how more and more research illustrates the power of altruism, the practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others.

According to a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Altruists in the office are more likely to be committed to their work and are less likely to quit their jobs, but the biggest benefit is that those who help others are happier at work than those who don’t prioritize helping others. [1]

“More and more research illustrates the power of altruism,” Donald Moynihan, a professor in the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said in a statement. “Our findings make a simple but profound point about altruism: Helping others makes us happier. Altruism is not a form of martyrdom, but operates for many as part of a healthy psychological reward system.”

The study looked into two large-scale longitudinal studies to make the connection between helping others at work and happiness. Researchers examined the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, which surveyed 10,000 Wisconsin high school graduates from the class of 1957. The found that people who said in their mid-30s that helping others in their work was important were apt to report being more satisfied with their lives nearly three decades later. [2]

Researchers also found a link between happiness and helping others at work in cross-national data from the General Social Survey, which includes data from 49 countries around the world.[3]

“It’s exciting that in both tests, our measures of altruism had relatively large effects on happiness,” said professor Moynihan. “Being motivated to help and believing your work makes a difference is associated with greater happiness in our analysis.”

A number of studies have also brought to light the value of friendship in the workplace, suggesting that strong social support can boost an employee’s productivity and make him or her feel more passionate about their work as well as be less likely to quit. [4]

“Camaraderie is more than just having fun,” wrote University of Kentucky management professor Christine M. Riordan in a Harvard Business Review blogs, “We All Need Friends At Work”. “It is also about creating a common sense of purpose and the mentality that we are in it together. Studies have shown that soldiers form strong bonds during missions in part because they believe in the purpose of the mission, rely on each other, and share the good and the bad as a team.”[5]

But that’s not all! Healing others may cause a ripple effect that makes not only those who are performing the good acts happier, but may also raise the happiness among other members of the community.

By Julian Omidi

[1] Virtue rewarded: Helping others at work makes people happier 7/29/2013 http://www.news.wisc.edu/21983

[2] Wisconsin Longitudinal Study http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/wlsresearch/

[3] GSS General Social Survey http://www3.norc.org/gss+website/

[4] Why You Should Care About Having Friends At Work 7/17/2013 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/08/work-relationships_n_3561568.html

[5] We All Need Friends at Work 7/03/2013 http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/07/we-all-need-friends-at-work/

 

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