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Lead Your Team Managing

Happy Workers May Not Be Best for Business

Happy Workers May Not Be Best for Business
Credit: Piotr Marcinski/Shutterstock

Trying to ensure your employees are happy all of the time might not be the best strategy.

While the commonly held assumption may be that positivity in the workplace produces positive outcomes and negative emotions lead to negative outcomes, the opposite can actually be true in some situations, according to a new study from the University of Liverpool.

Researchers discovered that it can be good to feel bad at work sometimes, especially angry. The study found that anger doesn't always lead to negative outcomes and can actually be used as a force for good.

The study's authors said in some cases, anger can spur on good outcomes when it's motivated by perceived violations of moral standards.

For example, an employee could express anger constructively after a manager has treated a fellow worker unfairly, the study's authors said. In such cases, anger can help prevent these types of situations from repeating in the future. [Angry Employees Can Improve Workplace ]

"Co-workers and managers can react supportively (rather than punitively) to angry employees, leading to favorable changes that improved the situation," the study's authors wrote in the research.

The researchers found that in team situations, negativity can have a good effect by lessening the consensus among team members. This can lead to greater discussion amongst workers, which enhances team effectiveness, the study authors said.

In addition to proving that negative emotions can be beneficial in the workplace, the study revealed that being too positive sometimes comes with a downside. The researchers said positivity has the potential to lead to complacency and superficiality, rather than increased well-being and greater productivity.

"Positive emotions are not always linked to positive outcomes," the study's authors wrote.

The study, authored by Dirk Lindebaum, of the University of Liverpool, and Peter Jordan, a professor at Griffith University in Australia, was recently published in the Human Relations journal.

Originally published on Business News Daily

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.