Last month, CareerBliss released its third annual ranking of the 50 happiest companies in America. This at a time when the Gallup Organization reports that 71% of workers hate their job and when The Conference Board pegs employee engagement at 47%, down from 61% in 1986.
According to CareerBliss (and reported by Fast Company), multiple factors affect work happiness including “work-life balance, one’s relationship with his/her boss and co-workers, work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks and job control over work performed on a daily basis.” It’s a tricky mix to get right, especially in a slow-growth economy when workers are being asked to do more with less.
I personally believe that workplace happiness (like most things) is a two-way street. Employees want freedom, support and appreciation. Employers want accountability, hard work and results.
To date, the media has focused its attention on advice for employers; there’s been less coverage about what each of us (as individuals) can do to make work more rewarding.
Here are three tips that keep me upbeat:
1. Decide to be happy. This may sound glib, but scientists who study happiness point out that we can foster satisfaction by over-riding negative default reactions, prompted by insecurity and fear. As Seth Godin notes, every worker tells him/herself a story. The story may be limiting (e.g., Don’t rock the boat. Don’t aim too high.) Or, even worse, it might be self-destructive (e.g., I’m a fraud. I’m destined to fail. I’m afraid of being caught.) We can teach ourselves to listen and rethink messages that hold us back. When is the last time you paid attention to the story you tell yourself? I remind myself all the time to edit mine.
2. Step back…and look at the big picture. When we see events from only one vantage point (i.e., our own), we risk over-personalizing workplace events. Challenge yourself to see the bigger picture. Try to see the business rationale behind a new policy or procedure. Ask questions rather than making knee-jerk assumptions. As Derek Irvine writes in his recent TLNTpost titled 4 Ways to a Happier and More Engaged Workforce: happy employees “step outside [themselves] and [their] own priorities.” When we focus on others (i.e., our customers, our co-workers, the organization as a whole), we gain perspective and reduce negative emotions.
3. See yourself as a problem-solver. You will feel happier and earn more respect from co-workers if you see yourself as a problem-solver rather than a passive participant. Even the best organizations experience challenges. Happy employees are proactive. They search for solutions and, in the process, earn greater accountability, recognition and autonomy.
What keeps you happy and motivated at work?
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