In a nutshell we all seek to be happy. Considering how many hours we devote to our working life, then it's no wonder that being unhappy at work will have a lasting impression on how we view other aspects of our lives.
A 40-hour working week equates to around 50% of our waking hours (Monday to Friday) so we need to grasp the concept that being happy at work is pretty much fundamental to our state of wellbeing.
It's no surprise that happy employees are more likely to show initiative, work collaboratively and care about their work output. So managers take note - Happiness = Productivity.
We suggest a few basics to start with: Try to be sociable at work, be thankful for what you do have, live in the moment, be kind to others and look after your body. We have suggestions for a few other strategies too. Above all, be realistic about your expectations. We live in a world where too often we can be influenced by what we believe to be the perfect life - misperception will only end in tears.
"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do."
Focus on the areas which you can control
Let's look in this blog at what we can influence.
Don't focus on aspects of your life you cannot control. Use your energy to maximise outcomes which you can control and thereby instigate a state of happiness.
We've highlighted 7 key areas to focus on so you can evaluate whether your work has the capacity to make you happy.
1. Build relationships
Humans are social animals and even if we lean towards introversion rather than looking to command attention, we all need to feel a connection with our workplace and our colleagues.
Build relationships (and by this we mean network with like-minded colleagues who you respect and admire). Establishing rapport with mentors, advocates and peers is central to our happiness at work. Use these relationships to develop and share ideas and swap success stories - as well as vent your frustrations or disappointments to. Share with those who support your professional development and who care about your happiness.
Ditch the ego too - appreciate that we are all entitled to express opinions and emotions. Giving meaning to your work includes treating others with respect, having a positive attitude, recognising success achieved by others and working to the best of your ability.
2. Don't compare yourself to others
Sounds obvious but we all do it.
Comparing your situation to others is a no-win situation. Harder to do in this modern age of social media of course, but we would recommend you maintain a success diary. Keep a log of your accomplishments, positive feedback, client thank you letters or emails - so you can refer back to them to give yourself a bit of a boost when you are going through a challenging patch at work.
3. Are you tapped into what motivates you at work?
Give some thought to your career goals and professional development. Does your current role offer the opportunity to grow and learn? What training and development is available to you?
Are you unhappy at work because you have yet to discover what excites and motivates you? If there's a disconnect between you, your job and the rest of the team, then the job isn't meaningful to you and happiness is potentially out of reach.
Ask yourself what attracted you to the job in the first place? Has stress caused you to forget what drew you to the role? Stress provides space for negativity to grow. Take yourself back to the time that you looked forward to going to work every day. What's changed?
4. Avoid negative influences at work
If your workplace culture encourages an 24/7 ethos then perhaps it's time to seriously consider whether the organisation is conducive to feeling happiness in your job. Unless perhaps in an emergency, no employees should be expected to be 'plugged-in' to their workplace around the clock.
On a human level, avoid or at least limit your time with negative coworkers. Very often we'll come across colleagues who complain endlessly yet have no intention of leaving their position. These protagonists will zap your energy and your positivity. Are you a human sponge?
Spend time with colleagues who share the same values as you, who are upwardly mobile, seek to develop their role within the company and who have a positive outlook.
5. Conduct an energy audit
There are various approaches you can apply to help you take stock and evaluate whether your job works for you. It's worth taking the time to do some research on your job.
List all the tasks you undertake over a 3 day period. Which tasks are stimulating and interest you. Which tasks make your energy levels stall. Which tasks do you find demotivating? Check and balance these tasks at the end of the audit period to establish whether your job undermines or invigorates your energy levels. Can you change the balance in favour of positive outcomes and emotions?
This BrightWork blog on the Personal Energy Audit - 5 Emotional Factors is a starting point for reassessing your energy levels in relation to your work choices.
6. Take breaks during the working day
We all tend to fall into the trap of not taking sufficient breaks during the day. It's important to allocate 10-15 minutes to yourself. Take a walk, meditate, play with your pet (assuming you're working from home), engage with nature.
Applying discipline to your work and rest routine is important for maintaining your happiness at work. That means you need to also take care of your diet, how much you exercise and the quality of your sleep. Look after the body; take care of the mind.
7. Talk to your boss more often
This may sound a little scary but listen first. Communication is at the heart of everything we do and how we feel. At whatever level in an organisation, a breakdown in communication can be catastrophic and may lead to you losing a valuable member of the team.
Talk to your manager regularly. Find out what motivates them, what they want to achieve. It may well unearth opportunities for your personal and professional development. As we've mentioned, working collaboratively will have a positive effect on productivity across the organisation. Not only that, but you'll be raising your profile, giving you the opportunity to discuss your successes.
You can argue that a lot of what this blog covers can be applied to life in general (so we hope we've provided some life coaching along the way).
Take a moment once in a while to stop and appreciate what you do have. We can be very hard on ourselves at the best of times so practise some self-care.
We'll finish with a quote from Malcolm Gladwell, best selling author:
"It's not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between 9 and 5. It's whether or not our work fulfills us."