Regardless whether you see your employment as ‘just a job’ or the career of your dreams, it is important to be happy and fulfilled in your work. The majority of us spend a significant portion of our waking lives at our job, therefore work should be a positive, engaging experience. If the opposite occurs and work is unfulfilling, depressing or stressful, this can bleed into every aspect of our personal lives, leading to a very unhappy and overall unsatisfied life.
So, what are the key drivers of happiness within a workplace? Adequate remuneration? Big benefits? A flashy company car?
The top five key drivers of happiness at work might not be what you’d expect, but organizations that get these drivers right can expect a passionate, enthusiastic workforce, who is satisfied and deeply loyal to their employer.
To truly give over your passion to a company, you must fundamentally believe in their mission and vision. These are not necessarily the words printed in the company’s annual report; moreover, this relates to an inherent belief that the organization walks the walk. For an employee to have any satisfaction or long-term happiness at their workplace, they must be driven by the principles and morals of the organization that are in-line with their own underpinning principles and morals. Organizations that purport their vision as X, but stray too far off the path and end up walking a Y vision will find employees frustrated by the incongruence and ultimately unfulfilled by the confused vision.
The employee who spends an inordinate amount of time working on a project, attending meetings or offering ideas only to never really be heard or seen is going to be on the fast track to unhappiness. Companies that truly value the input of their employees realize this is a substantial driver of employee happiness and satisfaction, but also receive valuable contributions, ideas and advice from others in different stratospheres.
Where a CEO and an executive team might have blinders on and see a problem only from a top-down perspective, the employee who is heard and seen can offer a different perspective, one that might well solve the problem or assist in solving the problem. Valuing employees is therefore very much a win-win and a key driver of happiness at work.
It can be difficult to give over your passion and enthusiasm to an organization that is floundering or has a dubious reputation. Employees want to wear a name badge with pride and be the face of a successful, profitable organization, preferably one known for its incredible service. This can be a driver of, not only happiness, but gratification and dignity in employees who feel honored to be a part of something meaningful and important. Conversely, the reluctant or uncomfortable employee may look to make a change in their workplace to get back their sense of pride.
The culture of an organization has the ability to either lift it to incredible heights or eat away at it from the inside like cancer. One of the most powerful drivers of happiness in the workplace is through the facilitation of a strong, positive culture. Organizations where a maladaptive, nefarious culture pervades, will find it undermines every aspect of the company and sucks the happiness and satisfaction from even the strongest of employees.
A secondary culture of absenteeism, dissatisfaction and high staff turnover will evolve. Conversely, a culture of reward, encouragement, congeniality and fun, where employees are nurtured, valued and genuinely cared for by the organization, will garner a following of enthusiastic, loyal and dedicated employees.
Ambition is a hallmark of humanity. Whether it’s the desire to shift upwards to a higher paying position, receive a more prestigious title or simply learn a new aspect of the job, most employees like to have the opportunity for growth within their workplace. The world is constant in that it’s always changing. A workplace that refuses to recognize the needs for its workforce to up-skill and grow is a short-sighted organization that, not only risks employee happiness and satisfaction, but risks its own future in a landscape of change.
Understanding what drives happiness at work is not difficult. Ensuring these drivers are in place and occur nearly seamlessly does take work and maintenance. However, organizations that recognize happy employees are fundamental to its success, will ultimately profit from employee loyalty, passion and longevity.
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Marcus has a degree in psychology, a masters degree in health psychology and has worked within the NHS as well as private organisations. Marcus started psysci, a psychology and science blog in order to disseminate research into bitesize, meaningful and helpful resources that are interesting and insightful and often help people on the right track to improving their lives.