Job Satisfaction: Strategies for Being Happy at Work
Have you ever been at work, sitting at your desk, and just staring at the clock waiting for it to slowly strike 5 PM? Have you ever looked at your computer screen at work with a deadpan expression? Have you ever woken up early in the morning and dreaded driving to work?
If your answer to any of these questions is YES, then you are most likely unhappy at work. In fact, you are definitely unhappy at work! If you hate going to the office in the morning and you frequently stare at the office clock hanging on the wall, then you are miserable at work. To be frank, a vast majority of employees around the world encounter this situation at least once in their lives.
While there are several reasons for people falling in this rut and losing the excitement and drive to work, there is no reason to remain in this pit of misery. You are working at least 40 hours a week so you deserve to be happy at the workplace. There are strategies and techniques you can employ to reinvigorate your passion in the workplace to be happy to go to work, to have a smile on your face as you work long hours.
We have some strategies for you to implement to get your professional career back on track and find your happiness while at work. Though there are some things that companies can do to make it happier for you with some incentives, this article will not deal with that. We will not discuss things like salaries and benefits that are economic incentives provided by companies to incite employees to come to work.
As important as they are, this article specifically focuses on what employees can do to make themselves happier at work. These strategies are targeted at the things employees have control over. If you follow these tactics, you will surely enjoy working.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING HAPPY AT WORK
We talk a lot about happiness in the workplace and how it is important but why the big fuss? Is it really that important? Is it overrated? Several studies have indicated that there is a positive correlation between job satisfaction and job performance. When employees have been found to be happier at work, for whatever reason it may be, their performance was significantly higher than it would be otherwise.
Improved performance and productivity is great for companies, so employers should want their employee to be happy, so that they get the most out of them. However, some companies do not take the effort to make the lives of employees easier to facilitate happiness and satisfaction. Ultimately, this leads to poorer productivity.
Besides productivity in the workplace, job satisfaction has been linked to mental and physical health. Oftentimes, when employees are unhappy at work, they experience plenty of mental stress and problems that carries over even after going back home. When employees are happy at work, they arrive home feeling satisfied with their workday and they even go to bed looking forward to waking up early and going back to work the following day. In addition, happiness leads to better physical health.
Reports have indicated that unhappy people at work are so stressed out that it has adverse effects on their physical well-being. These types of employees are usually overweight and get exhausted very easily. On the other hand, happy employees are typically more energetic and are physically fit, or at least try to maintain a healthy diet. Overall, higher levels of job satisfaction have a positive impact on your health. When employees are feeling healthy doing their job, then they are happy to do it and have no regrets putting in those extra hours.
Higher job satisfaction leads to fewer late entries into the office or absences. When people are unhappy at work, they often feel forced to go to work and sometimes go late to work because they are not motivated to start the day. There are even cases of people not showing up at work, taking the day off because they have lost all interest in even working. When employees are happy to go to work, they always arrive on time and rarely miss a day. Happy employees look forward to arriving at the office every day and mingling with their coworkers. Of course, this is very beneficial to the organization as a whole as their employees are working and delivering output.
Now that you know the significance of being happy at work, we can discuss some strategies that you can use to bring about happiness in yourself to feel better at work and get the most out of your career.
STRATEGIES FOR BEING HAPPY AT WORK
Each of these strategies can be applied to any industry you are working in. They are not necessarily specific to any single type of industry. Assess your situation and see which one you need to implement to find your happiness. Actually, rather than finding your happiness, create it. These are the key ingredients to creating your job satisfaction.
Find Your Passion
When you were in school, you studied subjects you were genuinely interested in. You pictured yourself having a job or career in that particular field after years of study. When you finally got the job, you really enjoyed putting all your skills to the test and learning some new things. Perhaps eventually, you reached a place in your career where you are doing things that are important for the organization but are not necessarily the things you enjoy doing. When you stop doing what you are passionate about, then it is very easy to fall out of love with your job and become unhappy at work.
Case in point, Marissa Meyer, the CEO of Yahoo, started her career as a programmer at Google. She has expressed her deep passion and desire of coding in many interviews and she was responsible for Google’s successes in the late 1990s and early 2000s. After receiving a lucrative deal from Yahoo to hold a more managerial and leadership-oriented role, she has no opportunity to code. She has publically stated that she misses coding and that she thrives the most when programming. Now we are not saying that she is bad at her job, but Yahoo is in a financial crisis now and even she was not able to keep the ship afloat.
This example illustrates how being passionate about what you do can lead to enhanced job performance. We are not saying that it will always happen but we would argue that in over 90% of the time, being actively engagedin what you do would improve your productivity. When you are able to pursue your passions, you can be more productive and have a positive impact on the business. Otherwise, you are having a negative effect on the output of the company when you are not satisfied with what you are doing.
Although it may sound like a dream, it is very possible to love your job almost every single day. Of course, there will be times when the projects you undertake become overwhelming and it lingers on your mind even when you leave the office. However, for the most part you can definitely love your job if you are passionate about the thing you are working on and when your own goals align with those of the organization you are working at. Common goals and passions are key to being happy at work. When the business of your company is the same as your passions, then you are fully behind the company’s mission and vision and you can give your 100% of dedication. By being passionate, you can be more dedicated.
In case you are not passionate about the things you are doing, then it may be time to look elsewhere. It is a good chance for you to reflect on yourself, the things you are good at and the things you really like. Find a common point and pursue a career in a field that combines what you have a deep interest in and what you are ferventabout. Remember, you will be working for many decades but when you do what you love, you are never really working. Rather, you are living your dreams. A dream job is something you are passionate about. Find the things that light that fire in your belly and take the path that makes it burn brighter. Do not chase after money. Instead, chase after your dreams and your visions.
Steve Jobs famously said, “If you love what you do, then you never have to work a day of your life.” When you are passionate about what you do, you are not working. You are living.
Your work is a significant portion of your life. You will be working at least three decades in your life and in the beginning,there are many hurdles to overcome. After years of education and training, you finally set foot in the job arena and are looking forward to doing amazing things that challenge you.
Every day, you learn something new and have to think outside the box to solve the complex problems. After a few years at your job, you have amassed a ton of experience and may have seen it all. That is when nothing really surprises you any longer; you no longer feel challenged at work. You feel bored at work because nothing is pushing you to the limit.
The lack of challenges quickly leads to job unhappiness. Many people used to love their job but after a few years, they lost the drive to continue working. Their work does not excite them any longer because everything feels too easy. Several reports indicate that difficulty leads to job satisfaction. Many believe that they want the easy life but on the contrary, results show that people do not it too easy. They want to be challenged.
Many people conflate being busy with being challenged. That could not be further from the truth. You could be busy with plenty of mundane and simple tasks that simply take time to complete, but they never challenge you to think. Working extra hours does not correlate to being challenged with more work. The quantity of work does not lead to more challenges. Rather, the quality of your work determines how challenging it is.
We reach our maximum level of motivation when we are engaged in activities that make us really think and learn new things. We are the most enthusiastic when we go to work and learn something new on a regular basis. When you are not challenged, you feel stagnated because you are not improving. On the other hand, when you are challenged, you feel a sense of pride because you have the opportunity to improve and make a difference by doing something new and exciting.
A good way to find and create new challenges at your workplace is to talk to your immediate superior and present your case. Convince them that you would like to work on something new and exciting that has not yet been done before at the organization. Of course, this comes with a huge risk to the company, especially when they have a system or plan of action in place. However, if you present your case properly and align your plan with the goals of the company, they will be able to find something for you that gets your blood pumping and your adrenaline rushing.
When many employees perform very well at their job, they receive a compensation bonus by their company. If you secured several new clients for your group, your company may reward you will a hefty bonus. If you designed a website in a unique and fascinating way, your client may pay you extra for your ingenuity. Several organizations use these tactics of economic incentives to reward you for your hard work. However, you cannot always expect your company to reward every single time you did something great. Economic incentives will only go so far to make you happy.
According to many studies, employees are happy to work for more money but after crossing a certain threshold, employees no longer feel happy at work even when they are paid more. Of course, the threshold differs from person to person. Rather than relying on money to make you happy, do something else with whatever money you have to make yourself happy outside of work. When you feel that you solved a big problem or reached a major milestone on a project, take some time on the weekend and enjoy yourself. Reward yourself in ways that bring you joy to your life.
Watch a movie at a theater. Go out with your friends and have some fun at a bar. Eat out with your loved ones. Go to the spa and relax in warm water. Life is not just about work. You have to play sometimes, too. Everybody deserves to feel happy about what they do and you cannot expect your company to take the responsibility to make you happy. Though that would be great if your company does that, you can take the onus in your own hands and satisfy yourself by doing things you like to do. Many of us become caught up in our work because we love what we do, but there is more to life than just work.
Find things that make you happy. Segment your work into various milestones and give yourself different types of rewards when you reach these milestones. You can start by treating yourself to some sweet treats or desserts when you accomplish something at work you are proud of. For later milestones, you can treat yourself to tickets to a local play if you like theater or go ice-skating to try something new. When you complete a major project at work, treat yourself to a grand dinner at a top-class restaurant in your city. Everybody deserves to be treated like royalty at least once in their lives. When you feel like you accomplished something great at work, do not feel ashamed to indulge yourself.
Socialize with your Colleagues
Everyone has their core group of friends that they keep in touch with. It could consist of the friends we grew up with as kid playing in the cul-de-sac, the classmates in high school we bonded with, and the people we met at college while partying and studying. In all of these situations, you bonded with people in a non-professional environment so you have a very relaxed and casual relationship with these people.
You may think that you do not want to cross that line with your colleagues at work because your colleagues may perceive it as unprofessional behavior. We are here to ask you to reconsider that thought. We believe that in order to be happy at work, you should get to know your colleagues personally and befriend them.
Let’s face it, you will be working with them for quite some time. It will make your work life so much easier and more enjoyable when you can see them more than just coworkers. You are all working in the same company and same team so in your lunch break, do not talk about work. You are already doing that every other time during the day.
Instead, talk about things outside of work that interest you. You can find a common ground on so many topics. You may find someone who shares your passion for films, music, books, food, or traveling. Remind yourself how you befriend people back in school. Well, do the same thing at the workplace. We are not robots without emotions. We are all humans that need a human connection and this is even more important at the office because you are working with people.
Although it is imperative to be productive and efficient while working, you should not only work when you are at the office. It may sound counterintuitive, we suggest participating in some light-hearted office banter with your colleagues every now and then to ease the tension and add some laughter to the workplace. It was been reported that having a fun and enjoyable working environment really boosts morale and gets you through the day. You can easily do this by striking a short and quick conversation with a team member across the room. Simply asking about how their day is going or asking if they saw last night’s basketball game or TV show could raise your spirits as well as theirs.
Besides having a bit of fun at your place of work, have some fun with your colleagues after work, too. Socialize by going to dinner at a fine restaurant and talk about things that interest you over some delicious food. Grab some drinks at a nice bar in town to loosen up and be more open with your colleagues. This helps to get to know their more casual side.
In addition, try meeting up on the weekends from time to time. We understand that you are already seeing them 5 days a week and you may feel like you do not want to see them again on your off days. However, bonding with your colleagues in a picnic or a barbeque party over the weekend can have amazing psychological effects on your happiness in life and at work.
The more you get to know your colleagues by socializing with them in various scenarios, the more you are likely to feel happy at the workplace. This is because you want to go to the office to see them and work with them. Your colleagues at your company can be your friends if you put in the effort to make a bond with them.
Improve your Working Environment
One of the biggest factors in determining happiness at work is your working environment. An aspect of the workplace that is often overlooked, your working environment has major psychological implications on your job satisfaction. This is because your productivity and efficiency are affectedby your working conditions. If you are working in a cubicle, contained by 4 walls and boxed off against your surroundings, then you only have some notes and your computer to look at while you are working.
You feel disconnected from everybody else because that is what cubicles do – they separate you from everybody else. If your company has a working culture where everybody is boxed inside these cubicles, then that may be a sign for you to look for a job elsewhere. Make sure you get a job at a company with an open working environment where you can actually interact with other people very easily.
While you may not be in control of converting your closed working environment to an open working environment, you can make your existing workstation much livelier to raise your spirits. If you are married, having a picture of your spouse on the table boosts your spirits and gives you a sense of purpose for working. If you have kids, having photos of your children at your workstation will motivate you to continue to work to provide for your family. This gives many people a sense of job satisfaction.
If you have a very boring and bland worktable, add some flare to it to spruce it up and to reflect your personality. If you are an organized person, have a clean and simply table with very few objects on the surface with most of your material possessions tucked away in the drawers. If your job requires you to use plenty of materials, keep them on the surface of the table and have them neatly organized so that you can easily find exactly what you need. All of these organizational considerations for your workstation have a major impact on your job satisfaction levels.
Many people spend more time at their office table than they do in their own bed. For that reason, we recommend creating an office nest and have a worktable that makes you feel at home and comfortable.
Take Breaks by Going Outside
We touched upon things you can do to make your working environment better but there are also things you can take advantage of to enjoy your work even more. Make full use of your office’s location and enjoy the breaks by going to the rooftop or going out of the compound to take a moment to breathe. One of the best ways to enjoy your environment is to go out and soak in the sun when it is shining brightly.
When you are indoors all the time, you are missing out on Vitamin D that your skin badly needs. When the weather is very pleasant, go outside for a little bit and experience the lovely weather. Whether the sun is blazing or it is quite breezy, both of these are wonderful weather conditions that make you feel happier. Sometimes just going outside to sit down or walk around a bit works wonders for your job performance.
Some offices are noisier than others, with people talking across the room with each other and phones constantly ringing. While it helps to wear earphones to block out all of the racket in the office, that will only go so far. Sometimes, you just need to go outside and get away from the commotion and distractions. You need to go outside, take a break, and find a moment of peace and silence. You can use this time to reflect and encourage yourself to keep on doing what you do. This definitely keeps you motivated and satisfied in the things you are doing.
In the 21st century, many office jobs have become desk jobs, keeping employees glued to their chairs for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. That is a lot of time just sitting down and if studies have indicated anything, it is that sitting in a hunched position for extended periods will result in serious back problems.
When you start experiencing back problems and other health related issues, then you will naturally feel unhappy going to work. Though you may not be able to radically change the nature of the type of desk job you have, you can take measures to help improve your health. This will result in improving your satisfaction at the workplace. You should start exercising regularly to reinvigorate yourself after a long workday.
A good way to avert or combat physical and mental stress that may arise from work is to exercise regularly. We suggest exercising every day after work. After you leave your office, go home and change into your more casual clothes, and go for a walk or a jog through a nearby park. A brisk walk or a jog for about an hour a day has been reported to combat psychological stress and helps to improve your overall happiness.
If you want to take it to the next level, get a membership at a gym and hit the gym every evening after work, doing exercises that are more advanced with heavy machinery. You do not have to go to the gym just to lift weights. You can also join spinning classes or hop on the treadmill for a run. Since you are paying for a gym membership, you will be more motivated to go the gym regularly and beat out all of the stress from your body.
Apart from dealing with the immediate stress at work, exercising regularly improves your sleep patterns at night. You will feel like going to bed in a very good state and wake up in a good mood. By exercising, you are improving your chances of sleeping with satisfaction after a fruitful day and waking up with determination to tackle the new day.
If you had trouble sleeping before, then exercising usually results in unperturbed 8 hours of sleep. In addition,exercising will result in you waking up early and arriving to work on time with loads of energy. That positive energy is infectious and can be felt by everyone in the workplace. It conveys a great sense of satisfaction for work.
Eat Healthy Food and Drink Water Regularly
In this day and age, fast food as become commonplace and is the go-to food of choice for many people at work because, as its name suggests, takes very little time to eat in your short lunch break. If the company kitchen does not serve tasty food, then many employees opt to go outside and eat some sandwiches or fast food at a nearby corner shop.
Eating burgers daily has serious adverse effects on your health, which has actually been linked to your job satisfaction levels. Drinking soda with them makes it even worse. The injection of unhealthy amounts of sugar at lunchtime might provide you some quick energy for a short amount of time but you will feel very drained by the time you leave the office. This ultimately affects your sleep cycle, especially if you eat a very similar type of unhealthy food for dinner.
If you decide to eat out at a café for lunch, go for healthier options with lean meats for protein and dishes with many vegetables. Salads are a great choice because let’s be honest, you can never go wrong with salads. If you do decide to eat lunch from the kitchen in your office, then stay away from the unhealthy dishes full of cheese. Try to take a bowl of soup that is quite filling and tasty. Again, a bowl of salad is very good for you so you should definitely consider that.
Some people even bring their own lunch from home. This has the added benefit that you know what you find delicious and what appeals to your taste buds. You know what kind of food makes you feel good so you can pack your lunch that is healthy and has a positive effect on your mind and body. That is what is necessary to improve your mood at work.
Besides eating healthy food, you should also only drink healthy drinks. Steer clear from soft drinks and other carbonated drinks full of sugar. Go for natural juices that are low on sugar. Fruit juices taste great and the nutrients they add to your body will keep you healthy and active throughout the day. However, the best thing you can drink is water and make sure you drink plenty of it. Water is 100% natural and is necessary for your body. It is the best thing to drink to keep you hydrated during the day, especially on hot summer days. Always keep a water bottle on your table and have a sip when you feel a little tired or exhausted after working for long stretches.
A good and healthy diet will keep you concentrated on the job, raise your mood levels, and create a positive-minded attitude. A healthy diet prevents you from feeling fatigued and makes you feel happier. Do not forget to eat healthy both at work and at home.
Ask for Feedback
Oftentimes, employees will work on a task for days, or even weeks, and not be sure if they are doing well or doing exactly what needs to be done. We advise working on something and running it by your boss to verify if you are indeed on the right track. The boss will say something like “You are doing well” or “This is good. Keep up the good work.”
In addition to informing you on how you are doing, you will feel a sense of excitement and accomplishment because you did something your boss has appreciated. When hearing such positive words, you will feel like you have contributed to the goal of the company and this ultimately leads to better job satisfaction.
We understand that many employees, especially those involved in top management, are extremely busy with many things on their plate. However, try to ask them to give you some feedback when you notice that they are not so busy. You can even ask for a personal meeting between the two of you to discuss your job performance.
Not everything your boss says will be positive but you should never assume it is just negative. Rather, consider them to be constructive criticisms and use them as learning opportunities to help improve in the future. When you receive feedback, you are being valued and that is a key component in being satisfied in what you do. Do not be afraid to ask for feedback whenever you can because it is an easy way to attain satisfaction in what you do.
Feedback does not have to come only from your superiors. If you are in a service-oriented industry and working with customers, ask them for feedback on how you interact with them and handle customer complaints. Since clients are the ones who see your output on a consistent basis, they can give you honest feedback. When a customer says to you “I really like the way you conduct yourself and what you have done for me”, it will surely put a smile on your face and encourage you to continue working.
We are sure that you have heard of workaholics, people who compulsively work more than the average employee does. Did you know that workaholics have a very chance of suffering from physical and mental stress and fatigue, such as burn out? This leads to many workaholics being unhappy at their jobs and this has negative effects on the company. Many employees do not take all of the allotted vacation days in their contract! This is a very depressing statistic and one of the root causes for employees experiencing burn out and being unhappy. Take your holidays and go on a vacation to a place you long wanted to visit.
Going on vacations has magical effects on our mind, making us feel very worthy and putting things into perspective. When you are working inside a building for several months, you need a few days to get away from it all to experience the beauties of nature and explore unknown places. If you always wanted to go to Hawaii to relax, go right ahead and spend some time there. If you wanted to travel to Europe to experience amazing cultures, go on a Euro trip. If you want to taste delicious street food, go to Southeast Asia for a while and try the delicacies. By traveling to these places, you will feel reinvigorated in what you do for a living and reignite your passion for you job. You will see things through a different lens and you will return to work with more energy than ever before to pursue your passions.
Moreover, going on vacations is a great way to reward yourself for you hard work and efforts. Sure, it is good to indulge yourself in the same city where you work by going to the movies or eating at an expensive restaurant. However, indulging yourself by going far away is an even greater reward that has no comparison. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city is a good way of patting yourself on the back for a job well done. When you return to work, you will be motivated to continue working well.
It is perfectly normal to feel a bit unhappy on certain days, especially when the deadline for your project is fast approaching and you feel unsatisfied with your progress. It would be unrealistic to assume that you can be happen all the time, 24/7, 365 days a year and walk around with a smile on your face. However, you cannot let temporary moments of dissatisfaction become the norm and ruin your entire professional career. You need to find ways to stay motivated, energetic, and optimistic at work. This guide gave you all the tips you required to boost your attitude at work and improve your job satisfaction.
You do not have to wait for your company to make your happy. You can satisfy yourself in so many ways. The ball is in your court now. You can either play to be satisfied or refuse to play and be left unhappy. We recommend that you take responsibility for your own happiness by finding and creating ways to be satisfied at work.