Leadership & Management January 09, 2018

Happiness at work

How to increase your work happiness and well-being

By Susanne Barth, Publications Manager
Updated 9th January 2018

 

My first boss once told me that a job should be fun, bring in money and make a difference - otherwise it was not worth spending time on it. I remembered his words when I started to think about this article. Not that long ago, people did not necessarily believe that happiness and work belonged together. It was nice to have an interesting, well-paid job and a promising career, but happiness did not come into it. Happiness was enjoying free weekends, private life in other words. Looking back at history, wealthy men were never fans of work. They could afford to spend their time on philosophy, hunting or whatever else.

Times have changed and work plays an increasingly important role in our search for happiness. People want to identify with their job and find fulfilment. What’s more, they are willing to work hard - sometimes too hard. Every year the UN is publishing a World Happiness Report. The happiest countries are Finland, Norway and Denmark. Leo Bormans, author of the bestseller “The world book of happiness”, goes so far as to say that the Western economy is changing from a money to a satisfaction economy.

However, when we take a look at statistics regarding happiness at work, the results aren’t that promising. A Stepstone study shows that happiness at work is limited. People are happier in their private lives. Gallup found out that only 20% of workers believe that they can bring out their best skills and qualities in daily work. 65% of Americans can’t remember having received any positive feedback at work in the previous month. It was also insightful to read that people feel less happy when their direct boss is present. Obviously it's still difficult for managers to build trusting relationships.

Alexander Kjerulf goes a step further. As far as he is concerned, there are two reasons which determine people’s happiness at work: Meaningful results and relationships. 

1. Meaningful results is not about completing a task or meeting a deadline. It’s the feeling that your work makes sense, contributes to something and makes a difference.

2. 80% of our positive feelings at work come from good relationships. Having respect for each other, working hand in hand and talking about something other than work give people energy. Good relationships also help you to be perseverant in difficult times.

And ... how do you feel about your job?

If you are unhappy in your job, this might have a negative impact on your private life. Check quickly whether you are enjoying your work by answering these questions:

  • Do you feel motivated on a Sunday evening when you start to prepare mentally for the next  week?
  • Are you fine getting up in the morning or do you hope that the working day passes by quickly?
  • Would you choose to work for your company again?

Summing up: People look for happiness at work and in their private life. If you love what you do, you are also happier in your private life. Happy workers are more committed and productive, which is important for organisations. Companies cannot influence whether people have chosen the right profession or if they ultimately enjoy what they are doing, but they can create the framework to ensure that people feel appreciated, have sufficiently interesting jobs and provide a good working atmosphere.

How managers can contribute to happiness at work:
- Appreciate the performance of your team members. Praise them!
- Build a trusting relationship by knowing your people on a more personal basis.
- Support people to develop further by offering appropriate training programmes.
- Let people work independently. Give them the freedom to find their own solutions to problems!
- When you have a vacancy, check that the candidate fits with your corporate culture.

How employees can increase their own happiness:
- At the end of each working day, write down three things which made you happy.
- Avoid gossip and negative people. Find colleagues you like and enjoy your time with them.
- Only make commitments you can keep - if your workload is too heavy, ask for help.
- Take charge of your professional growth. You have the most to gain from growing and the  most to lose if you stand still.

Please share with us what makes you happy at work. We would love to share your experiences in one of our future editions: inspiration@krauthammer.com.

© Krauthammer International, October 2013.

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