What Really Makes Us Happy at Work?

Being happy at work is often easier said than done for most. However, you may well be surprised as to what aspects of work genuinely increase the happiness of those in the workplace.

There have been numerous studies into happiness in the workplace and there are some very interesting results. For example, those who work in an office were recorded to have been twice as unhappy as those who work from home. Likewise, men were often found to be less happy at work than women and night shift workers less happy than day shift workers.

Many would quickly jump to the conclusion that a pay rise or a promotion would bring them happiness in the workplace. However, according to a recent study researchers found that participants who earned double the salary of some other participants were only 9% happier. Likewise, although a promotion is likely to bring a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, this is only going to be temporary until the brain adapts and a new goal is set. Therefore, immediate material or hierarchical improvements do not necessarily bring long term workplace happiness.

Instead, there are various influencing factors which are more likely to bring a long-term and genuine sense of happiness to individuals and workplaces. Dan Pink’s book Drive, which explores the science behind what motivates us, defines three influencing factors: Autonomy (the ability to have power over our own lives), Mastery (the desire to get better at something meaningful), and Purpose ( a reason to do what we do and how our efforts fit into a larger picture). The more we have of each of these factors in our work lives the more likely we are to be happy. Of course, it’s not always possible to be granted more of these influences and some can be difficult to attain.

Therefore, there are some other aspects which can increase happiness in the workplace. Alexander Kjerulf explains that there are two things which can directly and simply increase our happiness, and the happiness of our colleagues, in the workplace. Firstly, results. We are much more likely to be happy when we know we are doing a good and meaningful job and that our efforts are contributing to a bigger picture, or the company’s overall success. Managers can easily let their staff know this and also provide praise and recognition for a job well done. This is certainly going to increase happiness amongst their staff. Especially if you help celebrate their success in front of other staff. Second of Alex’s factors is relationships. If staff have good relationships with one another, especially those they spend their day with, they are more likely to be happy. Furthermore, workplace happiness also depends heavily on staff’s relationship with their immediate manager. Building and maintaining good relationships in these aspects will help contribute to healthy communication and higher levels of workplace happiness.

For more tips on how to create a healthy workplace and improve staff wellbeing, sign up to Honeydew Health’s FREE newsletter.