Happiness is a choice. As controversial as that is, it is true. This concept relates not only to our personal lives but also to our professional. Anyone can thrive at work by making empowered, wise choices about their work, the people they build relationships with, and how they manage their work-life boundaries.
It’s no secret that the pandemic changed the workplace as we knew it. And while leaders did their best to adjust to today’s new demands, employees must meet them halfway. Full-time employees work 40 hours out of a 168-hour week. That is nearly a quarter of their week spent working. To not make those hours enjoyable is a mistake.
Choosing happiness at work
Dr. Tracey Brower, an upcoming guest on our Workplace Innovator Podcast, believes that work can be a source of happiness and that employees are empowered to create that happiness.
But how? Keep reading to learn how anyone can choose happiness at work.
Don’t wait for joy at work; create it. Cultivating joy at work is not the same as dealing with stress, fatigue, and burnout issues. Instead, it requires a proactive approach to augment feelings of worth, appreciation, and well-being.
However, first, you must let go of the idea that there is a perfect job and that what you have today isn’t enough. Perfection doesn’t exist. You can find cracks in any workplace. Nevertheless, you can choose joy in your current job, the same as you would a new one.
Today, we know more about how the brain works than ever before. Anyone can leverage brain science to inform how they think, how they work, and where they work. According to Dr. Brower — author of The Secrets to Happiness at Work — to help love what you do and improve your work performance, be intentional about the following:
Humans’ first instinct is to think superficially, skimming, glancing, and scanning rather than processing material deeply. We are easily distracted, especially in today’s fast-moving culture. Even so, we can train our brains to think more deeply with empathy. Empathy allows us to consider others’ situations, solve problems better, and develop more effective ideas.
Hustle culture tells us that breaks are a waste of time. But that could not be further from the truth. Taking breaks makes us more efficient by giving our brain time to recharge.
Academic Susan Randolph writes in The Importance of Employee Breaks, “Breaks keep workers focused and engaged in their work which enables them to complete their tasks more accurately with fewer errors.”
Movement boosts our memory and learning. So don’t just sit at your desk all day. Take a walk and stretch your legs. As outlandish as it may sound, walking makes you a better employee. Physical activity also improves happiness, contributing to joy during your workday.
In the new hybrid and remote era, socializing with coworkers is more challenging than it once was. But this doesn’t make it any less important. Socializing reduces negative emotions during the workday. If you aren’t in a physical office, set up meetings to connect with coworkers about topics nonwork-related. Employees with good connections are happier, less stressed, and more engaged at work.
Find green spaces
Exposure to nature enhances our cognitive function and mental health. Employees who worked near natural elements had their productivity increase by 6% and their well-being and creativity by 15%.
Go toward natural light
Natural light is a highly requested feature in office design. It positively affects employees’ health, stress, and productivity. On the contrary, blue light suppresses melatonin and serotonin.
Employees have more control than they realize. By using brain science, we can create joy in the workplace – no matter the organization or job.
Embrace company culture
To fully adopt your company’s culture, you need to understand it. Take the time to know your company’s mission, values, and goals. Additionally, learn their specific policies and practices that support work-life balance. Post-pandemic, organizations have taken new and improved approaches to work models and vacation time. Embrace these changes with open arms.
Leaders today advocate for their employees to work smarter, not harder. Thus, hustle culture is becoming a thing of the past.
Continuously hustling doesn’t give employees time to recharge. We’re now moving toward a “break culture,” where managers encourage their teams to take more short breaks. Ask your company about their policy around taking breaks, and you may be pleasantly surprised to find it is more welcomed than in the past.
With this said, every company’s culture is slightly different. To find happiness at work, you must ensure that your employer’s culture is the right fit for you. While your job may challenge you, it shouldn’t drain you.
To determine if you are an excellent cultural fit, Dr. Brower suggests you ask yourself the following:
- What is core to your job?
- Does it put you on your ideal career path?
- Are you set up for time management?
- Does your job meet your fundamental personal principles?
- Are you compromising your morals for your job?
Keep in mind that it’s extremely rare to find a company culture that fits you perfectly. Look at your current organization’s culture and see what aligns with your values. For the areas that do not, ask yourself if it is worth the sacrifice. Many employees find that the pros outweigh the cons.
To find purpose and passion in your work, consider your perspective. Are you seeing yourself and your company in the best light? You need to know what you’re capable of bringing to the table. Be confident in what you can add to your job and organization.
The famous saying is true, “change your thinking, change your life.” This extends past our personal life and into our professional. Being an efficient worker is immensely mental.
Dr. Brower explains, “Don’t fall into the trap of believing you must find just the right role to be fulfilled or that it’s the responsibility of your boss or your company to create meaning for you.”
You can foster purpose and meaning at work by doing the following:
- Focus on feeling connected to something larger than yourself
- Know that your work matters to the bigger picture
- Realize your work’s importance to the organization’s financial results
- Be clear about your unique talents
- Think beyond your work — a meaningful life is also built through relationships
Having purpose means feeling a sense of intentionality and direction. Don’t wait for that passion to come to you. Instead, use optimism and focus to create it.
Prioritize building relationships
Today, employees rely too heavily on social media for networking. But a high LinkedIn following isn’t the best representation of professional relationships. Dr. Brower expresses that although we appear to have many connections, not all are genuine.
The pandemic forced us apart, but it’s now time to come back together. Nothing beats face-to-face connections. Without these, we become lonely, detached, and disengaged. So, what’s the solution?
Start by spending less time on your social platforms and more time prioritizing honest relationships. Having excellent work relationships cultivates joy and improves overall mental health. Whether this is making time for video calls or in-person meetings, partnerships are powerful. Collaboration brings you more long-term success.
Happiness is the key to success
When you choose happiness at work, you choose success. Why? Because happy employees are more likely to go above and beyond for their company. They are less likely to burn out, quiet quit, or be absent from work.
When employees choose joy, culture, purpose, and relationships, they ultimately create happiness. With a change in perspective, your workdays will become more enjoyable and your output more successful.
Dr. Brower puts it best in The Secrets to Happiness at Work, “Joy and a deep sense of happiness are yours for the taking.”