At Work, Happiness Matters
Are you happy to go to work right now? Do you love what you do and where you do it? These are really important questions. The answer makes a big difference on your productivity at work and at home.
Over the past 22 years, I’ve had a lot of different jobs. I’ve worked in call centers, radio stations, tech startups, giant corporations, and even worked for a city. Through all of this, one lesson remained true across all of these jobs: happiness matters.
Happiness Generates Progress and Productivity
A recent study out of Oxford found that workers that considered themselves “very happy” were 13% more productive than their peers. That percentage makes a big difference to the bottom line of companies that depend on worker productivity to drive revenue.
I’ve found that when I love the work, the team, and the company I’m working with, inspiration and productivity are extremely easy to achieve. If anything, I feel inclined to do as much as possible to keep working on the project or with the team, including putting in extra work whenever possible.
The Where, Who, and How are as Important as the What
Not enjoying what you do is a little different from not enjoying where and how you do it. Happiness can come in a number of different forms. It can be a social break with coworkers or snacks provided by an employer to express appreciation.
A 2015 study cited, “having spent approximately two dollars per person on drinks and snacks, productivity was boosted by almost 20% for a short period of concentrated work.”
I worked in call centers for about a decade, spending my days and/or nights listening to people tell me about the worst day of their week/month/year/life.
While no, I didn’t particularly enjoy the idea of spending eight hours a day doing that, I found joy in the little things about going to the office. Break time with friends, going to lunch with my future wife, and having a little fun during the precious few seconds between calls.
I found myself hitting my goal numbers more often though when my spirits were high. On good days, the processes required to complete each customer interaction were practically automatic.
Then, there were times when I enjoyed the work but did not enjoy the workplace. Finding the will to come in and give the same amount of effort is certainly more challenging in those conditions.
Happy Home, Happy Office
It’s certainly true that we humans have a difficult time separating our home life from our work life. Stresses of home often follow us to work, and when they do, our ability to focus on the task at hand suffers as a result.
Stressing about the rent, an argument with a spouse, or kids can kill productivity at the workplace. Finding a good work/life balance and making an effort to reduce the stressors at home can have a positive impact on stress at work.
Sometimes, taking a personal day is the best thing for everyone. The employee gets the time they need to sort out what’s going on, and the employer gets a worker that comes back refreshed and focused on the job.
Sometimes the Best Choice is Saying Goodbye
Walking away from a bad work experience is hard, but sometimes it can be the best option. Not only does this enable you to find a company and/or position that is a better fit for you, but it can actually extend your life.
A Finnish study found that being under heavy stress shortened a person’s expected lifespan by 2.8 years. That 2.8 years is not only taken from your life, but the time you spend in conditions that leave you miserable aren’t particularly enjoyable, either.
Ten years ago, I made the conscious decision to walk away from call centers and pursue a career path that was more enjoyable to me. It meant a 30% pay cut at first, and years of starting over before I created a portfolio that enabled me to land jobs that paid as much as I made before, but it was worth it.
Sometimes, happiness is more important than money. Enjoying my work may not make me rich or solve all of my life’s problems, but it may well make my time here on Earth more enjoyable, and even a little longer.