A time series of subjects' emotional status. Green indicates happiness, red indicates anger and yellow indicates relaxation. The blue bar shows the amount of time series conversation of the subject. The horizontal axis represents time series, and the vertical axis represents emotion and conversation volume in that time zone. The gray portions indicate neutral emotion or time periods where measurement could not be performed well due to poor contact with the device. Source: Yoshihiko KadoyaA time series of subjects' emotional status. Green indicates happiness, red indicates anger and yellow indicates relaxation. The blue bar shows the amount of time series conversation of the subject. The horizontal axis represents time series, and the vertical axis represents emotion and conversation volume in that time zone. The gray portions indicate neutral emotion or time periods where measurement could not be performed well due to poor contact with the device. Source: Yoshihiko KadoyaResearchers from the School of Economics at Hiroshima University in Japan demonstrated that worker happiness and worker productivity are closely linked by using wearable devices to measure the emotional states of factory workers in Laos.

To demonstrate how happiness and productivity are linked, 15 toy painters in a Laos factory responded to a questionnaire and were outfitted with wearable wrist devices with built-in sensors to measure their emotional states in relation to their productivity. The built-in sensors measured the wearer’s movements, exposure to environmental ultraviolet (UV) light, body temperature, sound, physical activity, pulse waves, beat-to-beat pulse intervals and sleep, among other factors.

Researchers measured the factory workers’ emotional states for three work days using software that collected data about the wearer’s beat-to-beat pulse intervals and followed the Russel Circumplex Model to gauge the worker’s emotional states from four of the most common states: relaxed, sad, happy and angry.

The team then applied a random effect panel regression model to the data, discovering that worker’s who were happy had increased productivity. Meanwhile, the remaining emotional states — angry, relaxed and sad — had no relationship to productivity.

The findings, according to the team, expand on already available information concerning the relationship between productivity, job conditions and mental health and could have potential implications for human resource and operational strategies in the work force.

The research appears in the journal Sustainability.

To contact the author of this article, email mdonlon@globalspec.com