We all want to be happy, at work, at home and in our lives in general. But sometimes happiness can feel all too elusive when we’re stuck in a job we hate, have a boss or colleagues we can’t stand and most importantly don’t know how or what to do about any of it.
Gallup has been measuring international employee satisfaction since the late 90s with a sample of 25 million employees in 189 countries. In the most recent report, the results were not particularly positive. Almost 63% stated they are “not engaged”, which might not mean they are extremely unhappy, but they are not committed and putting much effort in at work. Another 24% were found to be “actively disengaged” which does translate into being very unhappy with their jobs.
There are plenty of studies out there that show that happy and engaged workers is actually smart business. Happiness Works provides an online business case calculator that actually shows how much money a company can save if their employees are happier.
So if 87% of global workers are either indifferent or actually unhappy at work, what can companies do about it?
The results from a 75 year-long psychiatric study show that the most important factor in happiness is the quality of your relationships and connections, even with your work.
The Secret to Happiness
So what does make people happy on the job? According to the Happiness at Work Survey lead by Nic Marks there are some factors that positively affect how happy people are at work.
• Employees as companies with fewer than 100 people are 25% more likely to be happy than their large corporate counterparts.
• Supervise – managers and supervisors are 27% more likely to be happy than their subordinates.
• Work at something related to care giving or direct service and you’ll be 75% more likely to be happy at work.
• Skilled workers are 50% more likely to be happy than unskilled workers.
• Be older (or younger?). People in their 40s are the least happy of all age groups.
While many of the factors that affect our happiness are external, there are those that we can control or improve upon in order to gain a greater sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Andrea Linati, coach at Delivering Happiness and international expert at Womenalia, gives us some ideas about how we can maintain a positive attitude and enjoy ourselves more at work.
Taking control: When you have both certain autonomy in your tasks and votes of confidence for your work, it helps you to feel satisfied and valued. “Companies and managers need to work on this aspect, clearly transmitting employee’s responsibilities and tasks as well as the impact that they’re efforts have on the company,” she explains. However, on a personal level you need to be conscious and appreciative of your own efforts as a mechanism for satisfaction, regardless of whether you receive reinforcement from your boss or your company for them.
Making progress: Sometimes we get too caught up in the day-to-day hustle to see and celebrate the small successes that happen every week, whether they are individual or group achievements. Taking the time to recognize these little victories help us feel proud of the work done. Linati points out that, companies can easily build this mechanism into their culture. “Giving regular feedback to employees and more frequent, albeit simpler, evaluations makes for more rapid progression and improvement.” For example, if you break down your promotions structure into smaller and more frequent steps, your team will have a greater sense of advancement.
Feeling connected: “The external factor that has the biggest effect on our happiness is our sense of connection with others,” explains Linati. “Having positive and quality relationships, and friendships with your colleagues, increases your motivation. In addition, those who are more successful at work are the ones that garner the most support from others.”