The alarm clock goes off first thing in the morning. You reluctantly get out of bed and start preparing for another long day of work. Your boss, to give them credit, notices that you haven’t been yourself lately.
Sure. Money can buy happiness – but only to a point. But, it’s not really what’s going to make you happy at. And, that’s a big deal for anyone looking to enter the job market for the first time, someone hoping to make a career switch, or an aspiring entrepreneur.
Why Being Happy At Work Matters
A study conducted by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive.
As the research team explains,”We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.”
Professor Andrew Oswald, one of three researchers who led the study, said that “Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result.
For Google, it rose by 37%, they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.”
Dr. Eugenio Proto, another member of the team, added, “The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.”
- work better with others.
- are more creative, energetic, motivated, optimistic, and healthy (they take fewer sick days).
- fix problems instead of complaining about them.
- worry less about making mistakes (as a result they make fewer mistakes).
- learn faster.
- make better decisions.
Simply put, having happy employees are just good for business across the board.
What Makes People Happy When They Work?
So, there’s no question that happiness is important when it comes. But, what exactly makes people happy when they work?
“It’s not just about money,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director at staffing firm Robert Half. Dr. McDonald conducted a survey of 12,000 workers in a dual effort.
Working with statistician Nic Marks, that asked employees to rate their happiness level on a scale of 0 to 100. Instead, McDonald says, that the average employee is motivated by “culture, respect and pride … all of which are free.”
Other factors that correlate with high happiness scores were;
- Job level: Senior executives reported the highest average happiness score (84.4), with managers (75.7) right behind them.
- Company size: People who work at companies with fewer than 10 employees scored a 76, while those at organizations with 10,000 or more employees scored a 67.
- Rewarding fields: Those in the “education and training” (74.6) and “marketing or creative” (73.9) fields reported the highest levels of on-the-job happiness. (Those in hospitality and food services, by contrast reported the lowest — a score of 67 on average.)
What about income? “Work forms the structure of life — it gives it rhythm and meaning,” Marks says. “Good jobs nourish people. If you’re enjoying your job, you worry less about income.”
But, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Here are ten other factors that increase people’s happiness.
1. Autonomy. Numerous studies have found that autonomy, which means allowing workers to make some key decisions about how to do their jobs, is the key to happiness at work.
“Autonomy is the antithesis of micromanagement,” writes Joan F. Cheverie, manager of professional development programs at the higher education and IT nonprofit EDUCAUSE. You can start by encouraging employees to set their own goals.
2. Work that is challenging. “Research finds that people are happiest when engaged in difficult-but-doable activities,” writes Laura Vanderkam in Fortune.
“Instead of being passive and doing what someone else told you to do, actively look at your work and ask what would I really like to do?” suggests Brian Tracy. Eventually with a little creativity you’ll be able to turn the job you have into the job you want.
3. Variety and flexibility. Allowing employees to vary their workload, tasks, and schedule breaks-up the monotony and allows them to achieve a work-life balance.
In fact, travel website Ctrip found that “those working from home made 13.5 percent more calls, quit 50 percent less, and said they were much happier on the job.”
4. Significance and a sense of progress. Employees want to know that their work has significance within the workplace, along the impact that it has on society. If you’re business is socially conscience, this should be easy to accomplish.
“Ultimately, work is really about accomplishment,” says Richard Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations, and author of Joy, Inc. “Did I get something done, and does it matter?”
5. No fear. “Fear has this debilitating effect on safety, on trust, on team work, on collaboration, on creativity, innovation, and invention,” says Sheridan.
Instead of manufacturing fear, create a safe and fun work environment, supply the right tools and resources, and provide job security as much as possible – even if it’s training them to transfer to another job within the organization.
6. Support and opportunity. Even though employees demand autonomy, they also need support. For example, if you let them set their owns, you still set the strategic direction, deadlines, and benchmarks.
You also need to create an environment where everyone supports each other. People also thrive the most when they’re allowed to use and develop their personal and professional skills.
7. Recognition. According to one study, 82% of polled employees are more satisfied with their jobs when they receive recognition. Whether it’s an ‘thank you’ when passing by or giving them a shout out in the company newsletter, look for ways to give your team compliments when they’ve earned it.
8. Fairness. Employees need to feel that everyone in the workplace is being treated fairly. Make sure that you treat every employee with kindness and respect and deal with bullies appropriately.
9. A sense of belonging. Research from Gallup has found that that people who have a “best friend” at work are more productive and engaged. Don’t isolate employees. Encourage positive interactions with colleagues.
10. Benefits and perks. Companies like Facebook and Google are known for offering amazing benefits benefits and perks, such as free food, quiet rooms, and even dry cleaning.
Taking out the stress of daily allows employees to focus more on their work and have a healthy work-life balance.
What make you happy when you work?
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.