How to Create Your Own Happiness at Work

Posted by Brooke Freeburg on Apr 28, 2015 11:28:00 AM

Spring is here and winter is finally in the rear view! We’ve already established Boston as the happiest city, so what about everyone else?  Once the high of spring sunshine and green grass wears off, does everyone go back to their day-to-day “blah”?  Do you consider yourself a ‘happy’ person, but are miserable at work consistently?  A survey conducted by Gallup.com claims that only 13% of employees are engaged and happy, 63% are not engaged, and 24% are actively disengaged. How and why does this happen? Everyone becomes dispirited in the workplace at some point, but dealing with these feelings on a daily basis could potentially endanger you and your co-workers productivity, self-esteem, and overall happiness.

Spring is here and winter is finally in the rear view! We’ve already established Boston as the happiest city, so what about everyone else?  Once the high of spring sunshine and green grass wears off, does everyone go back to their day-to-day “blah”?  Do you consider yourself a ‘happy’ person, but are miserable at work consistently?  A survey conducted by Gallup.com claims that only 13% of employees are engaged and happy, 63% are not engaged, and 24% are actively disengaged. How and why does this happen? Everyone becomes dispirited in the workplace at some point, but dealing with these feelings on a daily basis could potentially endanger you and your co-workers productivity, self-esteem, and overall happiness.

The New York Times published an article by Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath (both management consultants) titled “Why You Hate Work”. The new normal in today’s workplace sees an abundance of lack of engagement, poor or underwhelming performance, little appreciation for work done well, and finally, the feeling that their work has no purpose or meaning.  Schwartz and Porath partnered up with Harvard Business Review to find the real drivers in engagement & happiness at work:

Physical needs: Renew and Recharge. Workdays can be full of meetings, conference calls, emails, and documents… don’t let the momentum get the best of you.  Stopping to pause can have a positive effect on creativity.  Schedule multiple breaks during the day.  Breaks can be an opportunity for physical activity or mental rest. Either way, you will give your mind and body a chance to recharge and renew.

Recognition:  People need to feel valued.  Hopefully, you are getting appreciation from you manager or boss at some level relatively often.  If not, asking for feedback and an assessment of your work will help you develop and give you the needed affirmation.  Praise doesn’t always come in the form of compliments, even just sitting and having a conversation with your employer/employees can have a very positive effect on their outlook.  Make sure to recognize yourself for a job well done, too. Give yourself a reward, whether it’s a new pair of shoes, bag, or other gadget. 

Autonomy: Give yourself the space and means to focus and be accountable for decisions.  Don’t answer a phone call on the first ring, and don’t send an email without rereading it first.  These two small details turn your reactions into actions.  You’ll be much more aware of what you’re doing and have a much better sense of how your message or conversation will be received.   Make your office or desk space your own!  If allowed, decorate your area and make yourself comfortable and relaxed.

Purpose:  The most important part of your job and your relationship with it are – Meaning, Connection, and Purpose.  Wharton management professor Adam Grant found that “employees who know how their work has a meaningful, positive impact on others are not just happier than those who don’t; they are vastly more productive, too.”   You shouldn’t ignore small victories, and large projects make it hard to see progress. At the end of the day, reflect. When you record moments (in a notebook or phone), you’ll have reminders of why your work matters when you need a boost. 

Topics: Culture, Career Growth