Happiness is a state of mind. Which "state" people are in at work can be a contentious issue. According to a recent survey by the Harvard Business Review, the workplace is an expression of your personal core values more than 63 percent of the time.
With the desire to be happy being of paramount importance to most members of the human race and the fact that most people spend more than one third of their lives working, obtaining happiness in the workplace is a worthy goal to achieve for most people.
Author Annie McKee in her book "How to be Happy at Work," explains many of the dynamics involved for people who are miserable at work versus those who are genuinely happy with what they are doing and how they are doing it. Many people do not like their jobs. In order to grow your business it is critical for you to encourage those who love their job to strive to influence those who dislike their job. When you are happy and you show it, there is a greater chance of making others happy. Simply put, the Golden Rule applies in most cases; Treating others as you yourself would want to be treated.
On the other hand, there are many people in the workforce who are absolutely miserable with their job. They feel disconnected and incomplete. Many times, according to McKee, disenchanted workers will blame someone else for their dissatisfaction. She has indicated that "almost two-thirds of employees in the United States are bored, detached, or jaded and ready to sabotage plans, projects, and other people."
Author McKee indicates the American Psychological Association, as recently as 2017, showed that Americans have more stress due to the current state of "politics, the speed of change, and uncertainty in the world." She suggests avoiding three "traps" at the office that will not help us be happy in the workplace.
Avoid the Ambition Trap- McKee suggests that many people strive to win at all costs. She says "when ambition is coupled with hyper-competitiveness and a single focus on winning, we get into trouble. We become blind to the impact of our actions on ourselves and others; relationships are damaged and collaboration suffers; we start chasing goals for the sake of hitting targets; and work begins to lose its meaning."
Avoid the "Should" Trap- The woulda, shoulda, coulda difficulty relates to what we think we should be doing instead of what we need to be doing. While getting an education is a perfect example of a legitimate "should," workplace expectations such as dress codes, when and where to carry on certain types of conversation, how to talk, and whom to associate with are examples from McKee that could force us into doing or being something we are not. We need to select a course of what we are willing to do to make us happy and what we are not going to do in order to just play the game.
Avoid the Overwork Trap- In the workplace of today, an argument could be made that technology provides us with an opportunity to work 24/7. McKee says "overwork sucks us into a negative spiral: more work causes more stress; increased stress causes our brains to slow down and compromises our emotional intelligence; less creativity and poor people skills harm our ability to get things done." Once again, there is a balance that needs to be struck between legitimate and meaningful work that may involve some overtime and working excessive amounts of time just to impress someone else.
McKee has done extensive research in the area of emotional intelligence. She has narrowed down workplace happiness to consist of three primary areas to strive for developing at work: meaning and purpose, hope, and friendship. If you can find what parts of your job give you immense satisfaction and which ones are tearing you apart, you will be well on the road to happiness. Hope helps you in times of trouble. You need to realize that hope can get you through most anything. You have to be the one to see it and nurture it. Finally, friendships with people you enjoy being with is a critical part to enjoying work.
Make sure that your employees receive more than just a paycheck. Help them understand they work for a company that cares about others including themselves. Let your company be a company that is committed to doing things right even when things go wrong.
Dan Arens is an Indiana-based business growth advisor.