How to find happiness at work

With lockdown leading to many of us to work from home, the results of this have been mixed

How to find happiness at work

If the arrival of COVID-19 caused happiness at your workplace to pack its bags and leave the building, what can you do to bring about its return?

Far from being trite, enjoying greater happiness at work has been shown by research as being associated with an average 31% higher level of productivity, 23% lower levels of stress related illness, 37% higher sales and x3 the level of creativity.

Moreover, a metanalysis of 200 studies revealed how happiness positively impacts every life domain implying happiness is clearly the prerequisite for success, according to Dr. Jenny Brockis, medical practitioner and best-selling author of Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life.

“How this works is because our thoughts and feelings drive behaviour, and our behaviour determines our outcomes,” added Dr. Brockis.

“Restoring happiness and elevating mood can be achieved by reminding ourselves how we as humans are designed for optimal wellbeing and performance.”

The way we work
With lockdown leading to many of us to work from home, the results of this have been mixed. For some it’s been a godsend, they’re more productive and they love the freedom provided. For others it can be a living nightmare if the working environment is less than ideal; juggling space, bandwidth, childcare or loneliness.

Read more: COVID-19: How to work at home and stay sane

When you understand your ideal way of working and are awarded the freedom to do this, it feels good. You experience a boost in dopamine, the reward neurotransmitter that is released in anticipation of a good event. More dopamine means greater happiness at work.

The why we work
Why do we? Work that is. Partly for the pay packet, but the stronger motivator is to be engaged in meaningful work. Regardless of status if your job provides you meaning, you’re more productive, you’re more willing to put in extra effort, to work longer, to stay in your role for longer and you feel happier.

Find the reward
Two positive drivers of happiness at work are seeing the results of your efforts contributing to something bigger than yourself and the strength of your workplace relationships. Having a best friend at work was shown by Gallup to boost engagement and productivity. Beyond doing work you feel is worthwhile work, working alongside others you like and consider like you boosts happiness, job satisfaction and the bottom line.

Buddying up promotes inclusion and belonging, feeling cared for and caring about others. While ensuring everyone has a voice and is listened to engenders trust and respect.

Set the intention
In times of adversity adopting a realistic approach to the situation, accepting what you can influence and what you can’t change promotes acceptance and the headspace needed to focus on what is possible. Starting each day with the conscious intent of doing what you can to get the most out of your day and to help others sets the intention towards success, keeping you more open minded and willing to explore different options. This reduces stress and keeps you in a better frame of mind.

Read more: COVID-19: Top priorities for HR leaders revealed

 Stop working so hard
All work and no play doesn’t just make us dull, it contributes to exhaustion and burnout. Having boundaries whether working from home or the office ensures we avoid overwork and the accompanying stress. Just as professional athletes know it’s important to train hard and then take time off to rest and recuperate. It’s true for us at work as well. Having sufficient down time to relax, engage in non-work activities and sleep is vital to our mental wellbeing and happiness.

Show your appreciation
It’s polite to say thank you when someone does you a good turn. Expressing gratitude is a powerful psychological tool to maintain a positive frame of mind and greater happiness. Savouring a moment, showing that you care, builds resilience, fends off negativity and keeps you focused on the good. A simple thank you makes two people happier.

Keeping a gratitude journal for 21 days, writing down three things you are grateful for and why daily has been shown to raise optimism that was sustained for the next six months. That’s a pretty good return on investment. Greater optimism keeps you more open minded, less risk averse, more creative, more confident and capable…and happy.

We spend around one third of our lives at work. Making work something we look forward, feeling good about the work we do and knowing we are surrounded by likeminded people, elevates happiness, our sense of achievement and fulfillment and makes work worthwhile.

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