A guest post by Saleh Amiralai
We are all in search of happiness. Where we look for it is entirely up to us. We often focus our attention only on the private sphere. Time with family and friends, a loving partnership – these points are high on many people’s aspirations for happiness. We go to work every day to be able to afford the things we think will make us happy.
But in fact, how satisfied we are with our job itself; how much meaning we see in what we do and what kind of relationship we have with our colleagues and our superiors plays a major role in our happiness in life. Do you get up in the morning with a smile, excited about contributing to the big picture with your work, working toward a vision and using your strengths? Congratulations, then you have found your work happiness.
What is work happiness and why is it so important?
Among our Scandinavian neighbors, companies in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, the term “Arbejdsglæde” is an integral part of the HR world. People who are happy with their work are more creative, motivated and resilient. In addition, happy employees are absent less often, are sick less often, remain loyal to the company longer and fit in better with teams.
Companies that place great value on employee satisfaction tend to be more successful. Why? You could look at the whole thing as a kind of cycle: Happy employees make for happy customers, who buy more and thus increase sales. More profit means that there is, in turn, a larger budget for measures that increase employee satisfaction. Sounds quite logical and simple, doesn’t it?
Even though this insight is not new, it is only in recent years that the topics of “employee satisfaction” and “job happiness” have been increasingly discussed. The simple arrangement – a person performs the tasks assigned to him or her in a certain amount of time and gets paid for it – no longer seems to work. We want more, we want to contribute and be satisfied instead of just compensated.
How satisfied are German employees?
According to a study by Avantgarde, there will be an extremely high shortage of skilled workers in the next fifteen years. To retain employees and become more attractive to them, employee satisfaction efforts have an almost strategic importance.
And yet, according to the same study, only 9 percent of all respondents in Germany said they were completely satisfied with their working conditions. Although this is still mainly related to salary, self-determination and social relationships with colleagues are in second and fourth place as factors for job satisfaction.
How do employees become more satisfied?
Ok, so we know that when employees are happy, it benefits both the employee and the company. So we’ll raise wages, promise an end-of-year bonus, and have a pizza night every other week. Everyone should be happy with that. Not necessarily!
There is a difference between employee satisfaction and job happiness. While we may view our situation as positive, happy to have fruit bowls and free coffee, it doesn’t necessarily change how we feel at work.
What really motivates us?
When it comes to motivational factors, a distinction is made between extrinsic, or external motivators, such as a company car and company cell phone, and intrinsic, or motivation from within – when you really want something because you see a purpose in it and because your inner drive motivates you to perform as well as possible. Extrinsic motivation is often short-term. If you get a raise, of course that’s great, you’re happy and really put yourself out there for a while. Only a few months later, however, the higher salary has become the norm and you are already looking forward to the bonus, the effect of which again fizzles out only a short time later.
What it takes for work happiness
Someone who is intrinsically motivated carries out an activity out of an inner drive and interest, who wants to act competently and autonomously. Such an attitude, such a feeling even, cannot be forced, of course, and the employer can only create the framework conditions for intrinsic motivation. Satisfaction provides the basis, but the responsibility for your work happiness lies solely with you. How you feel about your job, not what you think about it, is critical.
According to Martin Seligmann, one of the fathers of Positive Psychology, in order to live a happy and fulfilling life, five elements are needed: positive emotions, engagement, interpersonal relationships, meaningfulness, and results.
The same can be applied to your work life and therefore your work happiness:
- Positive emotions:
Laughter is still the best medicine! Positive feelings can be triggered by different things, depending on everyone themselves: Your colleague brings you a muffin, you successfully complete a task, you joke with your colleagues. What triggers positive emotions for you?
Those who are committed act, take responsibility and are motivated.
- Relationships with colleagues and supervisors:
Nice colleagues, appreciation in the team and open communication motivates, it generates positive emotions and makes us like to come to work.
- Sense of purpose:
As mentioned earlier, whether we consider our job meaningful or not plays a big role. If we have the feeling that we are contributing something to a vision, to the big picture, we are intrinsically motivated and thus motivated in the long term.
It is nice to achieve something, it is satisfying to be able to say “I have achieved something”, we are even happier when we receive recognition for our achievement.
Conclusion on work happiness:
Happiness at work does not happen overnight, but is a process that both companies and you as an employee or self-employed person can help to shape. The advantages of are obvious: more effectiveness, more motivation, more creativity and last but not least, more positivity.
So why not make happiness a top priority?
About the author
Saleh Amiralai(hirnplus) was employed for years as a manager in a large corporation. Today he is Leadership, employee and resilience coach. His mission: to make sure you get up with a smile even on a rainy Monday morning.
About the author
Kinga Bartczak berät, coacht und schreibt zu Female Empowerment, neuer Arbeitskultur, Organisationsentwicklung systemischen Coaching, und Personal Branding.
Zudem ist sie Geschäftsführerin der UnternehmerRebellen GmbH und Herausgeberin des FemalExperts Magazins.