The University of Warwick led a study to determine whether happy employees work harder, and as it turns out they do – in fact, they’re 12% more productive.
The study included four different experiments with more than 700 participants. During the experiments participants were shown either a comedy clip or treated to free chocolates, fruit and drinks; while others were questioned about recent family tragedies, to assess whether lower levels of happiness were later on associated with lower levels of productivity.
One of the researchers, Dr Sgroi, added: ‘The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.’
So what does this have to do with a water cooler you might ask?
Well, if we know that happier employees work harder and are more productive, then it stands to reason that we’ll want to encourage happiness wherever we can! And one of the things conducive to happiness is a healthy body, and one of the factors contributing to that, is ensuring we remain properly hydrated – ergo, regular visits to the office water cooler.
Many companies provide additional perks like gym memberships and healthcare plans, but if you’re not a Google or an Apple, your budget will probably not run that high, so here are 5 suggestions that any business can implement which will help make your office a happier (and therefore more productive) place to work:
- Build respect and trust
- Have a positive office culture
- Acknowledge, recognise and reward employees who work hard
- Encourage growth and creativity, and
- Ensure open communication at all times.
Many of us spend more time at work than we do at home, so aim to make your office a happy place to work and you’ll end up with happier, more engaged, and more productive employees!
The principle function of a water cooler is to dispense water – that invaluable natural resource that none of us can live without. Naturally we talk about water a lot, how it allows our bodies to perform optimally, how it improves our health, lifts our mood and increases our productivity in the office. We also talk about the lack of water for people in third world countries and how AquAid established the Africa Trust to help bring clean and safe drinking water to impoverished communities. But there’s also the poetic side of water – the side that acts as a symbol, the side that inspires, which we don’t touch on frequently, so here are a few of our favourite water related musings, courtesy of Everyday Power :
Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it. – Lao Tzu
A drop of water, if it could write out its own history, would explain the universe to us. – Lucy Larcom
The fall of dropping water wears away the Stone. – Lucretius
When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water. – Benjamin Franklin
When life places stones in your path, be the water. A persistent drop of water will wear away even the hardest stone. ― Autumn Morning Star
Human nature is like water. It takes the shape of its container. ― Wallace Stevens
Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.― W. H. Auden
All water is holy water. ― Rajiv Joseph
Love, like a river, will cut a new path whenever it meets an obstacle. – Crystal Middlemas
Always be like a water. Float in the times of pain or dance like waves along the wind which touches its surface.― Santosh Kalwar
You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. – Rabindranath Tagore
A river cuts through rock not because of its power but because of its persistence. – Jim Watkins
In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans; in one aspect of you are found all the aspects of existence. ― Kahlil Gibran
You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.― Mahatma Gandhi
Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine. – Slovakian Proverb
Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.― Ryunosuke Satoro
There’s an interesting article in Psychology Today that looks at office productivity and what factors have a positive influence on our ability to perform better. Turns out socialising and water cooler chats are not the time waster that management often thinks it is.
MIT developed a wearable badge embedded with a radio transceiver, a microphone, a microprocessor, and a set of motion sensors which tracks and records information about the wearer – their location, direction and voice inflections. These are measured during the day doing different tasks; including meeting colleagues face-to-face and socialising – the data recorded is then compared with the wearers’ productivity.
One such study was done in a call centre and they found that employees who are more cohesive – defined as how connected work friends are with each other, whether they talk to each other or not, and how interconnected everyone is – all positively influences their productivity and job satisfaction.
In a similar study it also showed that group cohesion – the result of bonding and chatting and spending time catching up around the water cooler – was a central predictor of productivity. Employees whose group cohesion was in the top third showed more than a 10% increase in productivity. In addition to that, the study also showed that the larger the network of people one knew, the more productive one was.
This just goes to show that socialising is not time wasted. The time you spend chatting about the weekend, your son’s rugby match or where you’re off to next on holiday, all while you wait your turn at the water cooler are important building blocks towards feeling that you are relatable and belong – a cohesion that ultimately makes you a happier and more productive employee.
World Environment Day 2019 focused on air pollution and how we need to clean up our act (no pun intended) – those scary facts are that 9 out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air and that it causes 7 million premature deaths annually!
Over the years there have been various other themes, many spotlighting pollution of our natural resources – water for example, we know our water cooler water is pure, but we also take it for granted, living in first world countries as we do, that the water we swim in and drink from our taps is also clean, but that’s not always the case. Water pollution has a fatal effect on our surroundings, here courtesy of Seametrics, are the frightening facts:
- ‘Every day, 2 million tons of sewage and industrial and agricultural waste are discharged into the world’s water (UN WWAP 2003), the equivalent of the weight of the entire human population of 6.8 billion people.’
- ‘Tens of millions of people in Bangladesh have been exposed to poisonous levels of arsenic from contaminated groundwater.’
- ‘In developing countries, 70% of industrial wastes are dumped untreated into waters, polluting the usable water supply.’
- ‘More than 80% of sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated, polluting rivers, lakes and coastal areas.’
- ‘About 10% of America’s beaches fail to meet the federal benchmark for what constitutes safe swimming water.’
- ‘Federal authorities estimate that the headwaters of 40% of Western rivers are tainted with toxic discharge from abandoned mines.’
- ‘More than 70% of China’s rivers and lakes are polluted, government reports have said, and almost half may contain water that is unfit for human consumption or contact.’
- ‘Every year, more people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war.’
- ‘Industry dumps an estimated 300-400 MT of polluted waste in waters every year.’
- ‘Nitrate from agriculture is the most common chemical contaminant in the world’s groundwater aquifers.’
We all know water is essential for our bodies to function and perform optimally, but we sometimes forget the exact ways in which water works its magic in each and every cell, each and ever day. As a reminder, courtesy of the European Hydration Institute, here are some of the remarkable benefits of good hydration and why you should make a point of stopping at the office water cooler more often.
Adequate hydration is important for proper functioning of the brain. When we are well hydrated, brain cells are better supplied with fresh, oxygen-laden blood, and the brain remains alert. Mild dehydration, a 1% to 2% loss in body weight, can impair the ability to concentrate. Loss of more than 2% body weight due to dehydration can affect the brain’s processing abilities and impair short-term memory.
Hydration in the body is important for transporting carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients and oxygen to the cells. The cells then produce energy for the body to function. Furthermore, hydration facilitates disposal of the waste products of metabolism, enabling the right cellular chemical function.
Hydration plays an important role in the digestion of food and the absorption of nutrients from the digestive tract. Water is required to dissolve nutrients so that they may be absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to the cells. Insufficient hydration will slow the digestive process and chronic poor hydration can lead to constipation.
Fluids are important for healthy heart function and the correct regulation of water balance is essential to keep blood pressure within the healthy range. Dehydration decreases cardiac output which may lead to increases in heart rate and a fall in blood pressure. The circulatory system delivers a constant supply of oxygen to the brain, muscles and to all other tissues.
An adequate water intake is essential to keep the kidneys working well, helping them to remove waste products and excess nutrients mainly via urine. The kidneys regulate the body’s water levels by increasing or decreasing the flow of urine. The kidneys also work to control normal levels of sodium and other electrolytes. A well-hydrated healthy person’s kidneys filter approximately 180 litres of water each day: clearly most of this has to be reabsorbed to prevent excessive losses from the body.
The body water has an important role as a thermoregulator, regulating the overall body temperature by helping dissipate heat. If the body becomes too hot, water is lost through sweat and the evaporation of this sweat from the skin surface removes heat from the body. Sweating is the most effective way that the body prevents itself from overheating.
Muscles and Joints
Water acts as a lubricant for muscles and joints; it helps cushion joints and keeps muscles working properly. Muscles and joints, in addition to the bones, are necessary for us to stand, sit, move and carry out all daily activities. Approximately 70 to 75 percent of the muscle is made up of water. Maintaining the right water balance is essential for optimum muscle function.
Indisputable is that proper hydration is essential to the physiological well-being and subsequent performance of us all. By making regular trips to the water dispenser and by increasing our water intake we improve our general health and well-being, and at the end of the day, that trumps all else – as Mahatma Gandhi said ‘it is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver’.