Ever since reading Drive by Dan Pink, I’ve enjoyed running across anything written by or referencing Harvard’s Teresa Amabile — since Pink is a big fan of her work on worker engagement.  So I was excited to see her NY Times op-ed a couple weeks back titled “Do Happier People Work Harder?”  Here’s the good news:

Our research shows that inner work life has a profound impact on workers’ creativity, productivity, commitment and collegiality. Employees are far more likely to have new ideas on days when they feel happier. Conventional wisdom suggests that pressure enhances performance; our real-time data, however, shows that workers perform better when they are happily engaged in what they do.

Managers can help ensure that people are happily engaged at work. Doing so isn’t expensive. Workers’ well-being depends, in large part, on managers’ ability and willingness to facilitate workers’ accomplishments — by removing obstacles, providing help and acknowledging strong effort. A clear pattern emerged when we analyzed the 64,000 specific workday events reported in the diaries: of all the events that engage people at work, the single most important — by far — is simply making progress in meaningful work.

The bad news is that very few managers take the steps necessary to support employee progress or other types of engagement.  The most striking finding in the article for me was this:

When we asked 669 managers from companies around the world to rank five employee motivators in terms of importance, they ranked “supporting progress” dead last. Fully 95 percent of these managers failed to recognize that progress in meaningful work is the primary motivator, well ahead of traditional incentives like raises and bonuses.

Does this sound like your manager?  Find a way to share Amabile’s piece with him or her.