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Do Happy Employees Make Less Mistakes?

April 12, 2017 by Lady Unemployed


photo credit: Miranda Mylne presentation images cc via photopin (license)

I can feel it’s officially time for me to seek out new pastures at my present job. Between coworker issues and just a general feeling that I’ve hit the wall of growth at this place, I’m just not that happy at my job anymore.

And lately I’ve noticed I’ve started making more careless mistakes. Not reading emails completely. Getting behind on small assignments. And a few other small mistakes which made me wonder today if being happy at your job equates making less mistakes?

Sure, we’re all human.

Yet, somehow I don’t think me wishing for an earthquake every morning is likely to improve my ability and drive to succeed at this currentjob.

I came across a bit of research that proves my theory. According to the Journal of Applied Business Research (Vol. No1, March 2014), “Engaged employees make fewer mistakes than disengaged employees because they want to ensure a job well done. They pay more attention to details and work with a greater sense of accuracy.” (SOURCE)

Isn’t that interesting? When we’re engaged at our job, we’re less likely to make mistakes. We’re more accurate. We pay better attention.We WANT to do well. I ask myself – do I want to do well at this job? In all honesty, I don’t really care. Mostly, if I was being honest with myself, I just want to get through the day and go home. Considering I’m spending eight hours of my day feeling like this, I think that may be why I’m making more mistakes.

Perusing on Google brought me to one site that recommended ways to make employees happy. One key tip jumped out at me.

“Listen to your employees.” (read the full article here)

The thing is, I do know I am asked for feedback at work. They send out the yearly surveys which I answer as honestly as I can without being rude. I even sit with my supervisor every few months to talk about goals. Recently, I sat with a supervisor to talk about what motivates, what I like about working there (including what I don’t like) and what perks would I appreciate.

Yet, for me, there is a difference between someone listening and someone being heard. Anyone can listen. I listen to conversations on the bus all the time. But I feel like when you are HEARD, your words are taking action. They have an impact. They get legs and start running a marathon.

I think what I want instead of my supervisor listening, I want active listening to happen at work. I don’t want to just suggest that working from home be more of an option. I want active listening. I want to hear in a meeting about how they know people want to work at home, but here’s why it isn’t happening or here is how it CAN happen.

I mentioned to a supervisor recently that when people are afraid of making mistakes, they make more. She acknowledged that of course. Admitting that management worries a lot about losing money which is why the reaction is so bad.

But can a company reduce that fear?

I remember once when I was in my first few days of a new job (not the one I’m in now) and the person training me said, “There is no mistake you can’t make here that can’t be fixed.”

I can’t tell you the burden that lifted off my shoulders when I heard that. I can also tell you that the place I’m working in now does not keep this truth close to heart. The last thing they would tell anyone is that mistakes are okay or even understood when you’re new. People are intolerant to mistakes and sadly that impacts the level of happiness people have at this place.

So back to my question – do unhappy employees make more mistakes? I think the answer is yes. And I think the theory here is if you can’t make your job a happy place, it may be time to move on. What are your thoughts?


  1. Megan says:

    I can’t like this enough. I used to be in this situation and let me tell you, it doesn’t get better!

    On the flip side, however, managers only have so much control and power over what they can do. Their hands are often forced by upper management. Just some food for thought.

  2. I hated my job so much I recently quit before I landed another job. I wish I could blame it on my impulsiveness… But my quitting was 2 years in the making and I just snapped one day and turned in my resignation letter. Now I’m sitting at home, typing a comment here…I’m beginning to regret about it…

    • I’m so glad things aren’t working out for you. Feel free to submit a post to my site! I’d love to tell your story. I really hope you are able to achieve your dream!

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