Do nice guys really finish last in business?

New research reveals “nice” people make a happier and more productive workforce, but the old adage may still hold true at management level. Here's why. 

“Niceness” in the workplace can be an undervalued quality, however a recent study from Monarch has revealed that employing nice staff makes for both a happier and more productive workforce.

The survey of 2,000 working adults in the UK found that nice people are twice as happy at work when compared to those who describe themselves as being “rarely” or “never” nice.

The survey was carried out as a follow up to Monarch’s previous research led by Jonathan Freeman, Professor of Psychology at Goldsmith’s University’s i2 Media Research Lab, which saw 100 participants complete a series of psychological research measures before taking part in two lab-based behavioural demonstrations. The results then revealed that nice people are more likely to be happier, healthier and earn more than others.

Benefits to workers

The latest survey results look a little deeper into how being nice translates in the workplace showing that being nice encourages others to be nice back to you. “Nice” people experience 15 kind acts per day whereas rarely or never nice people only experience six on average per day. Nice people say that their colleagues are more willing to help them if they are nice to them (73 per cent) however only one in ten “rarely or never nice” people would agree.

Benefits to managers and business owners

It is not only individuals who benefit from being “nice”, nice staff rate themselves as being twice as productive as those who are not, showing that it pays for businesses to hire nice employees. In fact, when hiring, 93 per cent of business owners look for this quality in candidates alongside being qualified. If nice employees are happier this also indicates a lower staff turnover which is a huge benefit to businesses.

It can also be good for your brand; nice people work for nice companies. The nicest people in the survey rated their company as seven on ten (for niceness) where as those who are rarely/never nice only rated their company a four on ten. How a business is perceived by staff and customers can have a huge impact on their clients, customers and ultimately, profits. Over one in three find that clients and customers spend more money if they are nice to them.

Don’t lose your “nice”

Monarch’s survey also asked participants to give tips and advice on how to best deal with these stressful situations. The most popular responses around keeping your cool in the workplace included,

  • Staying positive, calm and happy – smile!
  • Being honest and professional
  • Counting to ten
  • Breathing techniques and mindfulness
  • Making a cup of tea or taking a break
  • Looking at the bigger picture

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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