You spend a lot of time at work, make sure you’re happy there
Employers used to think that the best way to keep their workers happy was to compensate them well for the work they were doing. That was the reason why workers came to work in the first place, to exchange their time and skills for a steady paycheck. This was enough to keep our grandparents and parents happily employed.
As our social environments and economic models progress, so do our personal and professional needs. Most members of the modern workforce are looking for a more rewarding and rounded experience at their workplace. The common factors for job satisfaction cited by the millennial generation is a healthy balance of having a purpose, being recognized for achievements, and having opportunities to showcase their capabilities.
Unfortunately, not every employer offers the kind of environment that helps employees maintain their happiness consistently. The most ambitious employees figure out how to autonomously maintain a level of happiness that keeps their job satisfaction at a high level. This proactive approach helps them stay at a job longer, get more raises and promotions, and develop stronger professional skills than the typical 9-to-5 employee.
What are some of the things these overachievers do to increase their workplace happiness?
Build Strong Bonds with Colleagues
During the course of a typical 40-hour workweek, we see our coworkers more than we see our family. It stands to reason that you should invest in your relationship with your colleagues to make sure you are adding value to each other’s workday, not taking away from it.
Thinking of your team as an extension of your family can help you identify ways to treat them in a way that will build a stronger bond.
- Would you high-five your sister who scored the game-winner in the school’s basketball game? Be quick to offer praise for a job well-done by a colleague.
- Would you congratulate your cousin for getting into an Ivy League school? Congratulate your coworker who just got promoted.
- Did you offer to help your dad with cleaning out the gutter? Give your direct report a helping hand with a difficult or a time-consuming task.
- Did you put together a surprise birthday dinner for your mother? Organize a Happy Hour outing with the team after completing a challenging project.
A relationship built on trust, support, and solidarity with your fellow team members will increase not only their happiness but also yours. Psychology and sociology have taught us that activities and events bring lasting happiness more than material possessions.
The amplifiers in these situations are the people with whom we share the memories. Your healthy relationships are the “gifts that keep on giving” so by creating them at work you’re giving yourself a double dose of happy.
Understand Your Role and Responsibilities
Stress is one of the greatest enemies to happiness at the workplace and in life. According to an investigation by Comparably, up to 42 percent of workers involved in technology industries reported that unclear goals stressed them out the most, a whopping 26 percent higher than the second place issue of working with a bad manager. Understanding your company’s expectations of you is essential to preventing stress.
Getting a clear understanding of your role in the company and your key responsibilities is a straightforward task. Reach out to your direct manager and ask them specifically about what tasks you should be focusing on daily, monthly, and annually. Their answers should provide clear feedback that directs how you select and prioritize your daily tasks.
You should also ask your manager how your work and performance contributes to the company’s overall goals. Knowing your impact will help you attain a greater sense of purpose, encouraging you to work hard towards the established goals.
There is another bonus to asking these important questions. Great managers always make a mental note of employees who proactively seek to understand the bigger picture and aim to make a meaningful contribution. This puts you into consideration for future promotions & meaningful lateral career moves.
Review the Impact of Your Work
Once you understand your role in the company, the next step is to carry it out to a standard you can be truly proud of. Self-satisfaction is a huge way to build positive feelings of self-worth and create all of the “happy” chemicals our brains need to feel we’re doing something great with our lives.
Seeing the final product of your work is a gratifying experience for most people. According to Igor Avidon, CEO of Avidon Marketing Group, “Every team member should set micro goals or milestones they can achieve while working on a large project. These can serve as checkpoints to show the progress you’ve made, which helps you see and feel the impact of your contributions.”
You don’t need to aim for the moon, either. Your brain produces serotonin associated to any achievement, so setting micro goals for each step of the process that add up to the culmination of those major achievements will supply a steady stream of increased happiness throughout the entire project.
Sense of Purpose
It is important for people to feel they are contributing to something larger than themselves. We are no longer disconnected from the rest of the world – we are closer to each than ever before thanks to the internet. This creates a sense of responsibility and accountability for what we do every day.
Brian Graddon, founder of AED Leader, offers advice to employees everywhere. “Review your company’s mission statement to understand how its work impacts the world. Once you know its mission, you can start to tie your daily activities towards achieving the greater good the company is setting out to do.”
You could also ask your manager about how your job specifically do impacts the company’s progress towards achieving its goals. This helps provide a base of reference you can fall back on whenever you have doubts about your purpose.
Recognition & Acclaim
We all want to believe the work we do has real value. We want to believe that we have value. Getting rewarded for our achievements has a strong impact on our happiness and professional growth.
Almost 84 percent of employees stated they believe praise should be given for a job well done all year round and 70 percent of them backed that up by saying it would improve their motivation and morale significantly.
“Look at what’s required to earn the company’s Employee of the Month and work towards achieving that as a goal,” advises Daniel Litvin, founder of CPA firm Lalea & Black. “It is also perfectly acceptable to note your accomplishments to your manager, as they are busy and may miss them otherwise. Great work should be acknowledged and outstanding contributions should be rewarded.”
Happiness Leads to Professional Growth
The above are only a few in an ocean of ways to boost the way you feel about going to work. The list is endless with further options of creating a positive direction for your future, engaging in training and advancement programs, company social activities creating tighter personal bonds, or simply smiling more.
Given that two-thirds of the workforce believe that their job is impacting their mental and behavioral health, workplace happiness should be a significant focus for the good of every company and the economy as a whole.
But why should employees even make an effort to be happier if their employer doesn’t? Because it is an investment in themselves.
A study carried out by the Social Market Foundation found that happy employees were 20 percent more productive than their unhappy counterparts. The figures were even more impressive for those working as sales personnel, who achieved a mighty 37 percent lift in performance.
Not only does happiness have an impact on how you spend your time at work but it brings a real value to your employer too. And if he’s happy with you, that can lead to more responsibility, salary increases, and promotions.
Employers who understand their employees’ professional needs can effectively turn their ambitions into increased production. There are always challenges in keeping people happy with their job. For some it may be the amount on their paycheck, but there’s no disputing the impact of improving their lifestyle.
There are growing trends showing that being happy and feeling valued at work are becoming more important than that bottom line of how much we earn. This is especially true for the Millennial and Generation Z members of the workforce.
And why shouldn’t it? We spend much of our life at work, which means happiness in the office should be of utmost importance for a fulfilling life as well as professional growth.
Written by: Alicia Wells, BOSS Contributor
Alicia is a programmer who specializes in mobile app development and design. With her strong coding background and easy demeanor, she thoroughly enjoys blogging about all aspects of software development in her spare time.