Unlocking happiness at work

Happiness at work? For some this is non-negotiable, and even takes a higher priority in their role or job search than traditional factors like salary and benefits. For others the phrase sounds like a complete contradiction, with being happy at work something of a pipe dream.

Whether I’m supporting someone to find a new role, coaching on adjusting to being back at work following parental leave or working with individuals on their performance, happiness is a key factor to motivation and engagement at work, so here are my top tips to help you unlock happiness at work.

Get clear on your purpose and your value

Why do you work? Why do you do the job or career that you do? Two quite simple questions that can be surprisingly hard to answer! Without a clear picture of your value and values, everything else that follows can inevitably feel a bit lacking in direction and therefore contentment. Go back to basics and challenge yourself on why you work, what you want from work, and what you bring to work. Assess whether your current role or opportunities fits with this, and if not, look at what you can do to get closer to your core values.

Set a goal

Often a lack of happiness at work can stem from a lack of progression or feeling of stagnation. Setting a goal using the well-formed outcomes approach is an effective way of feeling more in control and having a clear direction and intention for your actions. Even if you don’t feel you have a goal you can influence in your current role, setting a goal for your personal life or longer-term career plan can help gain a greater sense of contentment at work.

Job crafting

Often, it’s possible to leverage component parts of your role to create a greater feeling of happiness. Job crafting theory comprises three elements:

  • Role crafting – can you change any of the elements of what you are doing day-to-day, taking on more of the things that appeal to you or that will help you get closer to your longer-term aim. For example, taking on a particular project outside of your regular work to expose you to other opportunities and gain experience.
  • Relationship crafting – can you more consciously and effectively build or leverage your network at work? Who are you interacting with, and do you have the option to build stronger relationships with people of influence or shared interests?
  • Cognitive crafting – If you can’t change your situation, can you change the way you think about it? Tap into the bigger picture of what you are supporting your organisation to achieve, for example a hospital porter that sees their work as essential to supporting the medical staff to make people better.

If you’re not feeling happy with your current situation, there might be elements of your role, network, or the way you think about work that you can change to increase your happiness.

Identify your radiators and your drains

Not your plumbing – in this context, a radiator is a person who you come away from feeling warmer, more motivated, encouraged, cared about… someone that has a positive effect on you. A drain is the opposite – I’m sure we can all think of people who feel like they sap energy, put negative thoughts in your head, or focus solely on the challenges. Consciously think about the relationships you have with colleagues and choose where to put more of your time and energy. If this isn’t possible, at least being aware of whether someone has the effect of being a radiator or a drain can be helpful in conserving your own energy and preserving your sense of happiness.

Find a ‘Best Friend at Work’

Gallup have consistently found that those who have a best friend at work – someone who you know has your back and genuinely cares about you – unlocks a greater sense of happiness, as well as improving your productivity, engagement and loyalty. For some, bringing this much of yourself to work can feel uncomfortable, but if you’re struggling with happiness at work maybe letting a few barriers down and welcoming someone else in could help.

Put a line in the sand for re-evaluation

With the best of intentions and all the help, pointers, and advice in the world, sometimes the role or culture just isn’t the right fit and for the sake of your happiness it will be time to move on. If you think your job is affecting your happiness it’s always worth setting a particular time period for you to re-evaluate and making sure you hold yourself accountable to this. It’s easy to get swept along in the day to day, feelings peak, and trough and you can forget how long you may have been feeling unhappy for, so setting a specific marker stops these feelings continuing unchecked.

If you or your colleagues need support at any stage of your career or thinking about your next step after redundancy, get in touch with us on 01491 414 010 or info@connor.co.uk and we would love to have a conversation about how we can help.


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