Since you spend a significant chunk of your life working, enjoying your job and workplace environment plays a crucial role in your overall happiness. Finding joy in what you do professionally is easier some days than others. Work is just that – WORK – and it often comes with stressful deadlines, difficult co-workers and clients, and unforeseen circumstances that must be navigated on the fly.
Many things in our work day are out of our control, but there are so many things that are within our control. Take some of the below proactive steps to take control of your day and find more happiness at work.
1. Start on a Good Note
When you’re rushing to get to work, reeling from this morning’s argument with one of your children, feeling disheveled and overwhelmed once you get to your desk, you’re already starting your workday in a mood that’s anything but “happy.” Before doing any work, make sure to switch gears. Create a “centering” activity for yourself that pulls you out of your rushed morning mode, like taking a morning walk around your office, listening to your favorite pick-me-up song, or taking 5 minutes to sip your coffee in complete silence.
2. Chunk Your Work
Nothing is more of an overwhelming buzz-kill than looking at a big project and seeing how little time you have to get it done. Instead of looking at the whole project, divide it into sections and assign yourself smaller, more manageable tasks. Then, cross off each task as you go, giving yourself a back-pat when you do. When you see you’re halfway through a list, it’ll make you feel much more productive and accomplished than looking at a large task and seeing you’re still nowhere near completion.
3. Focus on Your Responsibilities and Hold Others to Theirs
There are endless stories of people who became managers and regretted it, feeling they spent a majority of their time in meetings or helping the people they manage, never getting to spend enough time on their own jobs unless they worked after hours or on weekends. That would definitely infringe on workplace happiness!
Meetings are inevitable, but you can better manage your time by helping those who work for you. Instead of always having an answer and telling them how to solve problems, empower them to be their own problem-solvers. Some managers require workers to bring them ideas for solutions if they come to them with a problem. Others have a “three before me” policy, which means workers need to be able to share three ways they attempted to answer their own question before they sought help from the manager. Whatever solution you employ, the key is to empower your team and effectively manage your time.
4. Avoid Gossip and Negative Talk
There are sometimes legitimate issues at work that require your attention. However, listening to others chat about every little thing that goes wrong will likely skewe your perspective of your job, causing dissatisfaction and affecting your level of contentment. People who gossip also like dishing the “dirt” on all of their coworkers, which can skewe your perspective of them as well.
5. Create a Manageable Schedule
Prolonged working hours without breaks increases stress, which decreases job satisfaction and workplace happiness. Creating a schedule that allows for periodic breaks and a good work-life balance will do the opposite. You’re more likely to view your job positively and be happy at work if you don’t view it as something that sucks up all your free time … and sucks the life out of you.
6. Set Aside 15 Minutes for a Work Out … or Nothing at All
A simple, short, 15-minute work-out is all you need to release some toxins and endorphins and get your blood pumping. This should lift your spirits, release tension, and give you the energy you need to finish the day. Since you’re creating a manageable schedule, finding those 15 minutes should be easy. You could also use those minutes to do something shocking … nothing at all. Spending time doing nothing is shown to boost creativity. When people give their brain a break and take their minds off of work, that’s often when they come up with the best ideas and most creative solutions.
7. Implement a System that Produces Regular Feedback
Employees who don’t receive regular feedback often feel undervalued and unhappy at work. Creating a system with your boss so you can get regular feedback on your performance is important to helping you receive the positive reinforcement you need when you hear about what you’re doing well. It also gives you the information you need to improve performance and do your job better. Employees thrive when there are clear expectations and goals, and regular feedback should make your boss’ expectations clearer.
8. Encourage Transparency Even When It’s Difficult
Open and clear communication makes for better working relationships and better relationships overall with your coworkers. If you leave room for them to give you honest feedback, it will communicate that you value their thoughts, feelings, and what they do in the workplace. If you communicate your thoughts clearly and respectfully, it will help solve issues in healthy ways and address problems in a timely manner before they fester and grow. Transparency also gives you the opportunity to practice “professional courage,” or advocate for others or for policies that help create a positive environment for all.
9. Help a Colleague
People concerned with the welfare of others in their workplace are more likely to feel satisfied and happier at work (Moynihan, 2013). Additionally, taking time to help others will redirect us from our own issues. Lending a hand to others contributes to a sense of empowerment and contributes to us feeling better about ourselves. It also makes us feel more connected to our coworkers and workplace.
10. Make Friends
Employees who report having strong co-worker friendships are more likely to be happy and motivated at work. Let’s face it–friends make everything better! When you spend at least half of your waking hours at work Monday through Friday, having a friend you enjoy talking to and spending time with makes the experience SO much more pleasurable!
This is just a sampling of the many things you can do to start enjoying your workplace more. You can also create your own list of things you know would make you more happy if you included them in your workday.