How to be happier at work

Job satisfaction is attainable and lends itself to true work-life balance

Happiness is as essential to a functioning office as fast Wi-Fi and strong coffee. People who feel happy at work are healthier, more productive and less likely to quit than those who don’t experience much job satisfaction.

A recent Robert Half report took a snapshot of the office environment by asking 12,000 workers in various fields to rate their happiness. On a scale of zero to 100, the average score was 71, with marketing and creative professionals leading the pack. So which industries fell short in levels of happiness and interest in their work? Professionals in finance, financial services and accounting.

Happiness explained

Just what is workplace happiness?

We break it down into three positive, interrelated emotions:

  • Enthusiasm — the high-energy desire to get started on new projects and see things through to completion.
  • Interest — eagerness to focus on tasks and dig into problems instead of feeling frustrated and defeated by them.
  • Contentment — a deep-seated feeling of job satisfaction, stemming from enjoyment in one’s work, recognition from management and good relationships with colleagues.

Get happy

We all want more happiness — for ourselves and our employees. It is possible to enjoy greater enthusiasm, interest and contentment in the workplace. Here are six factors that influence job satisfaction, along with tips for bringing your staff greater happiness.

1. Fit for the job and company: Workplace happiness actually begins long before the first day on the job. It’s important for your team members to have responsibilities that play to their skills. Putting someone who loves dealing with people in a back-office role, for example, may leave them feeling unfulfilled. Fit is key. Hiring managers can address this at the outset by asking interview questions that gauge how well potential new hires would fit in the workplace culture.

2. A sense of empowerment: Nobody likes being micromanaged. We would all rather make our own decisions, which is likely why senior executives we interviewed report the greatest happiness, most interest in their work and least amount of stress of all respondents. Managers would do well to ensure that their staff ­– ­even entry-level accountants – have tasks and projects they are entrusted to run on their own. As they prove themselves, give them even greater autonomy.

3. Feeling appreciated: Many businesspeople are quick to point out mistakes, but slow to show appreciation. Being acknowledged is a basic human desire and a vital factor in long-term happiness, so give credit where it’s due and acknowledge when employees and colleagues go the extra mile. Managers can hand out bonuses or gifts when possible, but don’t underestimate the power of a simple “thank you.” Let staff know you’re glad they’re part of the team.

4. Interesting and meaningful work: Our survey found that workers who feel proud of their organizations are three times more likely to be happy at work than those who don’t. Even though corporate pride means different things to different people, one common driver seems to be the ability to work for a firm that supports its local community. Consider asserting your company values with social responsibility efforts and by encouraging volunteerism.

5. A sense of fairness. Complaints about partiality often center on two things: compensation and opportunity. Everyone wants the salary and opportunity to advance, and they’re disgruntled if they feel shortchanged. Hurt feelings are often the result of poor communication, so management can create a greater sense of fairness by being transparent about their decisions. You can head off overtures from your competitors for your best talent if you increase salaries on a regular basis.

6. Positive workplace relationships: These come in two flavors: boss and colleagues. Survey respondents who feel a strong sense of camaraderie with their coworkers report greater job satisfaction — up to 2.5 times more — than those who say they don’t have great relationships at work. Furthermore, the top reason respondents say they’ve left a company was due to their relationship with their boss. It’s clear managers benefit when coworkers enjoy solid friendships, so start planning team-building and social events — and be a full participant.

The “secrets” of job satisfaction are really just common sense, and they’re actually doable, even in the business world. So as you set your business goals, make greater employee happiness one of them.

Categories: Human Resources