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Happy people make better sandwiches—and profits

Prêt a manger's happy workers make better profits

Prêt a manger's happy workers make better profits

The Daily Telegraph has run an article about sandwich maker Pret a Manger's sales increase called Are happy workers more productive?

The key take-outs are: 

  • happy people are more productive
  • As seen at Pret a Manger, where sales are up 16% year-on-year to £594 million
  • Pret a Manger takes the wellbeing of its workforce very seriously.
  • "The first thing I look at is whether staff are touching each other – are they smiling, reacting to each other, happy, engaged? I can almost predict sales on body language alone.”— Pret's chief executive, Clive Schlee
  • The staff are given a bonus – paid to everyone in their branch – if a weekly secret shopper spots positive and happy staff behind the counter
  • "the economics of happiness is… being taken increasingly seriously around the world"
  • the most conclusive proof that there is a causal link between happiness and improved performance is a study by Professor Andrew Oswald, at the University of Warwick
  • it says happy people are 12% more productive than “normal” people 
  • (Experiment details: 700 people in laboratory conditions. Shown a comedy clip making them laugh or given free chocolate or fruit as an incentive. They were then given a series of arithmetic tasks. The happy group did better. The unhappy group (which they worked out through interviews to find out if they were suffering from tragedy in their family life) did worse.)
  • The Hotel California work model: as per Stuffocation. Googlers are given free ice creams, free lifts to work, free dry cleaning, the opportunity to spend 20 per cent of their time in the office on non-work projects of “passion”. "Cynics suggest this is a clever method to ensure workers never need to leave the office." 
  • Others who use the Hotel California model: 

    • Stickyeyes, a digital consultancy in Leeds: free massages to workers, “Free Food Fridays” and a non-pay bar at the end of the week. 

    • Innocent Smoothies, the juice company, has ping pong tables nestling on fake grass at its London headquarters, and every three months it gives workers a detailed questionnaire about their happiness. It helps them spot spikes as well as dips in satisfaction. 

    • “We were getting feedback about our working hours,” says Jane Marsh, the head of people, at Innocent. Employees were expected to finish work at 6pm. They wanted to leave at 5.30pm. “We changed it,” she says.

  • Science also says: happier companies increase shareholder returns over a long period of time

  • Between 1994 and 2009, the 100 best companies to work for in the United States, as measured by Fortune magazine, outperformed their peer group by 2.3% per year 

  • Prof Alex Edmans at the London Business School and Wharton says this is not a correlation, but a direct causation.

    If happy people make the company more money, who wouldn't want a happier workforce? Happiness—emotional wellbeing and satisfaction—will become more important in the 21st century. This is the future of work in an era of experientialism.


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