In defining productivity we could say that it is a measure of the rate at which output of goods and services are produced per unit of input (labour, capital, raw materials, etc.).

It is calculated as the ratio of the quantity of output produced to some measure of the number of inputs used.

Many factors can affect productivity growth. These include technological improvements, economies of scale and scope, workforce skills, management practices, changes in other inputs (such as capital), competitive pressures and the stage of the business cycle.

However, studies now confirm that one of the greatest motivators to productivity has a great deal to do with attitude and celebrating your success along the way, regardless as to how insignificant they may seem – and the best thing is that it does not cost you anything.

When you’re focusing on being more productive, producing better work, and motivating your team, it’s easy to forget to celebrate successes along the way and in particular, the small wins that tend to go unnoticed unless we make a conscious effort to savour them.

But research shows celebrating hard, and often, can actually improve your team’s performance and how well they work together.

Celebrating successes strengthens relationships and bonds

According to Shelly Gable, professor of psychology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, how you celebrate success is more predictive of the strength of a relationship than how you fight when things aren’t going well.

A 2012 study explains why the way you celebrate success is more important than how you handle tough times in a relationship.

Looking at couples the study found people whose spouses were supportive during good times believed they’d also be supportive when times were tough. The spouse didn’t even have to prove their support during rough periods; just thinking their spouse would be supportive in hard times was enough.

Those relationships scored better for emotional intimacy, trust, and relationship satisfaction.

The celebration has also been shown to improve relationships among sports teammates. Research shows the more convincingly a team celebrates their success together, the better its chances are of winning or achieving its goals.

A 2010 study looked at this effect specifically among basketball teams. The study found the teams who touched each other most with congratulatory taps, fist bumps, hugs, pats, and high-fives also co-operated the most and won the most.

Fervently celebrating can elevate passion, commitment and determination to perform well at whatever task we undertake. This is good news for everyone from friends and spouses to colleagues and teammates at work.

So, as we are approaching the busiest time of the year, take some time to acknowledge good news among your team and celebrate successes together – even making a big deal out of small wins could improve how well you work together.

One of the hallmarks of a good manager is the ability to identify and verbally communicate gratitude and encouragement for even small efforts that staff make to do things right.  This is because appreciation is the fuel that encourages consistency in performance.

Celebrating induces the progress principle

When it comes to productivity, it helps to feel good about your work. We all know how much easier it is to get things done when you’re excited by what you’re doing. Research confirms that the best way to encourage these good feelings that lead to productivity is to make progress on meaningful work:

Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.

According to studies, the more frequently people experience this feeling, the more productive they’ll be long-term. This is known as the ‘progress principle.

And again, small wins can work just as well as big ones. Celebrating minor milestones throughout the day or week can be enough to make your team feel like they’re gaining momentum.

The only caveat to remember here is that the work must feel meaningful for the progress principle to work. So, start by taking some time to help your team see how they’re contributing to meaningful results, and follow that up by ensuring you celebrate each other’s successes.

Of all the things that can boost motivation, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.

Celebrating can make us happier

Research confirms that telling others about our own positive feelings can also make us happier. But, even better, just thinking about telling someone your good news can make you feel happier, too.

Savouring is what social psychologist Fred Bryant calls the process of sharing and enjoying good news and positive feelings. It’s another way of talking about celebrating success or positive events. And Bryant says it’s something we should all be doing more of. Savouring is the glue that bonds people together, and it is essential to prolong relationships. People who savour together stay together.

Research also shows that when we outwardly express our good feelings, we tend to feel happier. This is because we’re giving the brain evidence that something good has happened.

The brain can take in and respond to the external signs of good news when we express ourselves outwardly, which serves to compound our initial good feelings.

Although this research points back to the basic idea that celebrating success and small wins is beneficial, there’s quite a bit of unpacking within all this research.

The final word

However, the key element that allows the joy of celebrating achievements to stick is the feeling that what you are doing is also fulfilling and meaningful to you. 

We love the feeling of making progress, but not if we think our work is a drag in the first place.

To ensure this element is in place, make sure that when you select your staff, the allocated tasks they will be performing are also meaningful to them. It is easier to perform well if we love what we do.

This time of year is all about celebrating the wins from wherever they may come.