Well-being and work - and what contributes to happiness at work
So if we don't enjoy our job - then it follows on that we don't enjoy a big chunk of our waking life! But if we look to improve our well-being at work then we can improve our lives.
This article looks at how we can improve our well-being through our work.
Some may think that the ideal antidote to not enjoying your work is to come into some money and not work altogether. I've thought about this a bit and I do actually think work can actually play a big part of an enjoyable life - as it can provide a lot of things we need to be happy, such as direction in life, goals, something to get us out of bed for in the morning. If we work in a team it can provide good social relationships and if it's for a cause we believe in then is can be really rewarding. I think most of us if we won the lottery or something would probably quit our job, and do those things we've always want dot do - but after a time some of us may well get a little bored and need something to get involved in that provide a lot of the benefits that work can provide? I'm just guessing here of course, but I've seen first hand how people who retire suddenly lose a bit of motivation and drive and miss parts of their job. So that makes me think I have no burning desire to be able to stop working or reach retirement.
However I don't exactly like the term work or job, as it does imply that it's something you do just to earn money to live - and to me that's no way to spend your life if you want to live it to the full. In this respect - I love the quote "choose a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life". It's always been my aim to work in an area that I'm actually interested in and passionate about and so I'm fortunate in that I have been able to pursue a career in graphic design that entails using my talents and interests in creativity and design. There are of course parts of my work that are not so enjoyable - but on the whole I'm fairly happy and I'm always looking to improve my 'work' situation and increase the well-being I get from my work.
So as a result of this interest in well-being and work - I began reading around the topic and came to understand that there are quite a few sub-categories which contribute to our well-being at work and how satisfied we are with our job. I'm still learning on the subject (I'm a trained graphic designer, not a professional psychologist though - although I love reading about psychology) - but below are my notes on the important constituents of Job satisfaction and what employees and employers should be aiming for:
Good work-life balance - plenty of time for activities outside of work (family/friends/interests/hobbies) - not working too many hours that is consumes a substantial amount of your time
A good workload balance - enough to keep employees motivated/busy, but an amount that they think is achievable - and not too much that it becomes difficult to complete and becomes stressful.
A good salary - maybe an obvious one - but this doesn't necessarily mean a high salary - but an adequate salary that enables the basic needs of life to be met with enough disposable income to enjoy personal interests
Autonomy & control - over important parts of work [but not too much responsibility that it burdens]. Those with a sense of control over what they do are much happier than those who have no control.
Good level of job-fit & skill use - talents and skills of individual are aligned with work tasks.
Enjoyable, engaging and absorbing work tasks - not boring or frustrating - but interesting and motivational
Career progression & work development plan - learning new skills and developing is essential to keep people engaged and motivated
Safe working environment - this is fairly obvious - but important!
Worthwhile work - if your work fits in with your values and you believe in the effect your work creates then it becomes a calling and goes beyond a means to an end. Work can be worthwhile if you think what you do benefits customers and indeed benefits society!
Relationships at work - if you like people in your team and have good relationships with fellow employees & management then this fills a basic human need for good relationships with those around. If you have friends at work and have fun too - then this can only be good for you!
Good organisation to work for - It's important for employees to feel that where they work is a good organisation or business to work for and is well-managed and employees are looked after.
Work surroundings - this goes a long way to actually like being in the working environment.
Job-security - perhaps another obvious one - but if we are constantly thinking we may lose our job soon - then this adds a lot of stress to the employee.
So there you go - a few notes on what contributes to job satisfaction! Not greatly in depth - but I'm hoping it gives a good overview
There is actually a really good, and fairly quick online survey you can do to see how happy you are at work - it's well worth doing and will help you understand what you like about your job and where the issues are that need addressing
View the survey at www.happinessatworksurvey.com
As for any employers reading this - and thinking what's in this well-being thing for me? Well it's documented that happy employee's are more productive, more creative, more motivated, are less likely to leave their job and are less likely to go on the sick. Consider this quote:
“When massive, seemingly soulless corporations recognize that the happiness of the workforce is a great predictor of long-term sustainable success, then you’ll see the societal tip occur.” ~Shawn Achor
So basically - those businesses that look after the well-being of their employees will become the successful businesses of tomorrow.
Well - I hope you have got something from this blog post. From doing the survey it certainly made me see what I like about my job and what I need to improve upon - and thats what i'll be trying to do!
For further sources of information check out:
This is where I collect my online articles on work and well-being
I really recommend reading any of Martin Seligman's books - and his book Authentic happiness is the one which really got me interested in happiness at work.
View Authentic Happiness on amazon
Thanks for reading, Stuart.
Stuart Hodgson is a freelance graphic designer with a passion & interest in health & well-being. His life's purpose is to simply try and Live Better. Stuart is also curator of a popular inspirational quotes website and if you like this blog then you'll probably enjoy the site - visit www.inspirational-quotes-about-life.net