Careers

A science-backed trick to be happier and more productive

At many workplaces, it's easy to have only limited human contact. Nearly all conversations can be had via email or a platform like Slack or Google Chat.

But multiple psychological studies show that people who regularly interact with and help out their co-workers are happier and more productive at work.

Researcher and best-selling author Shawn Achor conducted a series of studies to figure out what separates happy people from the rest of us.

He found that people who showed "social support" like helping out others and encouraging office activities were 10 times more likely to be engaged at work than those who kept to themselves.

They were also 40% more likely to get a promotion, he writes in his book "The Happiness Advantage."



Co-workers bonding ping-pong
Klaus Vedfelt | Getty Images
"Having strong social relationships is as good for your long-term health as regular exercise."

"When a colleague stops you in the hallway at work to say hello and ask about your day, the brief interaction actually sparks a continual upward spiral of happiness and its inherent rewards," Anchor writes.

In stressful situations, those who helped out others were happier, Achor found. Separate research confirms this: having strong social relationships is as good for your long-term health as regular exercise. Not having those real and mutually-beneficial relationships is as damaging as high blood pressure.

Two UCLA professors of psychology also studied the benefits of helping others and found similar results.

"Beyond social network size, the clearest benefit of social relationships came from helping others," the authors write in "The Longevity Project." "Those who helped their friends and neighbors, advising and caring for others, tended to live to old age."

So next time you're feeling unhappy at work, consider lending a hand to a colleague, inviting them to lunch or organizing an office activity. The gesture might help you out as well.