Thinking Ahead: Another Reason to Keep Workers Happy Credit: Prykhodov/Shutterstock

If you want your employees to be forward thinking in their jobs, you better keep them happy, new research suggests.

Employees with high levels of job satisfaction remain proactive for several years, while those unhappy at work become less proactive the longer they are in their positions, according to a study from the Warwick Business School in London.

Karoline Strauss, one of the study's authors and an associate professor at the Warwick Business School, said proactivity is important for innovation and implementing organizational change.

"So it is important to sustain a proactive workforce, and we have found that job satisfaction is important, not just as an instigator of proactivity, but as a force for maintaining momentum," Strauss said in a statement. [8 Amazing Job Benefits That Keep Employees Happy]

Researchers discovered that highly satisfied employees who had not tried to promote change at work were unlikely to do so in the future. However, the researchers also found that those with high levels of job satisfaction who were proactive maintained that behavior for more than two years.

Researchers said that on the flipside, low levels of job satisfaction may motivate high levels of proactive behavior in the short term, as workers looked to change things to become more satisfied. But that didn't last over the long term.

"Our findings suggest that these workers will either succeed in changing their environment at work and so no longer see the need to seek change, or fail, become frustrated and not persevere with their proactive behavior," Strauss said.

Strauss said their research found a significant positive link between a worker's ability to adapt and that employee's proactivity.

The study followed 75 workers for two years, measuring their job satisfaction and proactivity levels. It revealed that if employees do not adapt to change, they are consequently unlikely to support proactivity.

"Those who fail to adapt to change seem to be less likely to initiate change in the future, as they may see change as threatening and may lose confidence in their own ability to be proactive," Strauss said. "Irrespective of their past proactivity, we found that employees' proactivity may decrease if they fail to adapt to change, and that may impact on a company's performance and profitability."

The study was co-authored by Sharon Parker, of the University of Western Australia, and Claire Mason, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia.

Originally published on Business News Daily