According to Gettysburg College, we spend, on average, ⅓ of our lives at work, and that’s a whopping 90,000 hours over a lifetime. With this in mind, it’s only natural for many of us to start to question: if so much of our lives are spent working, doesn’t that mean that we should be prioritizing our happiness at the workplace, too?
Here at Wholeness at Work, we are dedicated to increasing workplace wellness and reducing burnout. In a world where virtual is a new reality, and the great resignation is far from over, employee wellness has never been more important.
What does happiness in the workplace look like?
When we think of our happiness, work may not be the first thing that comes to mind (in fact, for a few, it may even be the last—or even the cause of unhappiness). But a few things can significantly contribute to happiness at work, like having good colleagues, an environment that is safe and respectful, and a sense that what you do at your place of work really matters.
We all have needs at the end of the day and different sources of what makes us happy. But several components of happiness tend to be universal. One of the core foundations of happiness and of what it means to be human is the desire to feel seen and important. And if your workplace doesn’t provide this, it can be detrimental.
The consequences of failing to provide or be a part of a work environment that feels nurturing and respectful can cause a very serious domino effect. Unhappy employees can attribute to a poor working environment that feels toxic, cause quick turnover and resignations, and greatly impact their individual lives and colleagues' lives. Unfortunately, most people have experienced a job role before (you may even currently be in one) that feels hopeless, unimportant, and detrimental to wellbeing. This is why we began Wholeness at Work — to prioritize employee wellness and encourage practices at a micro and macro level that can tangibly make a positive difference. If you’re noticing that you feel like you or someone you know may be on the verge of burnout, click here to read three questions that will help you prevent burnout.
So, how do you measure happiness at work?
Now that we understand a few of the consequences of not prioritizing happiness at work, let’s get into how we can measure what happiness in the workplace actually looks like. First, we challenge you to take a brief pause and analyze the factors that are important to you to feel happy at work. And remember, these will look a bit different for everyone.
For some, happiness at work may be attributed to engaged coworkers that feel like family. For others, they may be happiest having the time and space to complete their work individually in peace and quiet. This is why we first want to allow you to create space to ask yourself what makes you happy so that you can guide your career towards those things.
Beyond our individual signifiers of happiness, there tend to be a few universal ones. Take a look at this list to consider what your unique happiness outlook may be in your current role.
Your Work Environment Feels Safe and Respectful
This may seem a bit obvious, but being a part of a company and team that feels welcoming and safe is a massive predictor of employee happiness. If you notice that your company values and integrates things such as fear, shame, or anxiety more than they encourage warmth, honesty, and openness—you may want to re-evaluate if this position is attributing to your wellbeing or causing harm. You deserve to be a part of an environment where you feel appreciated and respected.
There is an Overarching Feel of Authenticity
Your colleagues, managers, and the general ambiance of the company spirit is authentic and uplifting. There is mutual trust between the organization, the public, and the people who are employed.
Your Wellbeing Genuinely Feels Valued
We’ve all experienced the drastic difference between working for a company that cares and one that does not. In a healthy job for your overall wellbeing, you’ll feel as though the measures of wellness and health that matter to you also matter to your employer.
You Are Allowed to Be Vulnerable
A successful organization knows that vulnerability, innovation, and accomplishment creates stronger results. Strong companies aren’t afraid of failure and give their employees the grace to try new things and take risks. Companies that value vulnerability tend to intentionally create workplace environments that are open, honest, and constructive. Failing and learning from mistakes are a byproduct of the nature of business, and you shouldn’t have to feel overly anxious or fearful of reprimand.
What other signifiers of happiness at work are important to you?
We would love to hear them! What aspects of work—big and small—help to make a difference in your happiness? And if you find yourself at a job where you are feeling like the measurements of happiness that matter to you don’t feel upheld and you are at the risk of burning out, we are here to help.