There are many who think it’s just not possible to be happy at work. Others think it’s simply not necessary, that the workplace is a serious place and doesn’t benefit from talk or thought of happiness.
The Great Good Center at the University of Berkeley would beg to differ:
“Not only is it possible to find happiness at work, but that doing so is unambiguously good. Happier employees do better on all fronts, from day-to-day health to productivity to career advancement, and this consistently perks up the bottom line for the organization as a whole.
According to the Center:
- Being happier at work is tied to better health and well-being, more creative and effective problem solving, more productivity and innovation, and faster career advancement.
- People who are happier at work are more authentic, more committed and driven to work, and more willing to contribute beyond their job descriptions; they also find more flow and meaning in their work.
- In the face of adversity and setbacks, people in happier workplaces tend to see the bigger picture, making them less stressed; better at coping with and recovering from work strain; and also better at reconciling conflict.
- Socially, people who are happier at work are rated by others as more likable, more trustworthy, more deserving of respect and attention, and more effective leaders; at happier workplaces, people are also more helpful to each other and more supportive of one another during difficult times.
- Happier workplaces report less turnover, lower health care costs, fewer mistakes and accidents, more efficiency, greater shareholder value, and quicker rebounds in the wake of adverse events or failures; they also earn higher customer loyalty, commitment, and business growth via word-of-mouth endorsement.
So How Can You Be Happier At Work?
Focus on PERK, says Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director of the Greater Good Science Center. PERK stands for Purpose, Engagement, Resilience, and Kindness:
“Our purpose is a reflection of our core values, and we feel more purposeful at work when our everyday behaviors and decisions are aligned with those values. As individuals, bringing more passion and purpose to work can mean asserting ourselves in formulating and conducting our day-to-day tasks—connecting what we do to what we believe in and care about—rather than passively embracing the status quo.”
“There are three main ways to increase engagement at work. First, fold in some playfulness, creativity, and levity. Second, give people more ownership over their day-to-day schedule, tasks, and professional development, and build in opportunities to learn and grow. Finally, adopt a less draconian, hectic schedule and make space for the immersive, lose-track-of-time experience of flow at work.”
“The ability to handle, adapt to, and productively learn from setbacks, failures, and disappointments is critical to overall happiness at work. Resilience doesn’t mean trying to prevent difficulties, stifle stress, or avoid confrontation; it means being able to manage challenges at work with authenticity and grace.”
“We’re happier at work when we tap into our innate tendency towards kindness—orienting our thoughts, feelings, and actions towards care for others and genuinely supportive social bonds. Being kind at work involves treating others with dignity and respect, extending empathy and compassion, practicing gratitude, and constructively managing conflicts.”
The Happy At Work Quiz
A few years ago, a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education created a quiz to help individuals better understand if and how they’re happy at work. The quiz consists of 24 questions, covering issues like purpose, meaning, values, mission, and relaionships.
The Happiness At Work Documentary
In 2014 French documentary maker Martin Meissonnier released the documentary Happiness At Work, the first ever effort to study if employees really are happy at work, what makes them happy, and how work feels in different countries and cultures.
The documentary was shot at nine different companies around the world including the US, France, Belgium, Finland, and India. It runs for 54 minutes.