Are you "Happy at Work?"
by Prabhasa Kota — Posted on Nov 23, 2017
"Are you happy?", I asked my friend of 20 years who had recently come back from the US after spending a couple of years working at top tech firms.
She was taken aback, never was she asked this question so directly. And never had she thought about it that way.
For her, like most of us, life had always been about running from pillar to post. A never-ending chase…. On and on and on.
"Am I Happy?", she repeated. “For the most parts, yes. But am I happy with what I’m doing, am I happy at work? That I’m not sure.”
This wasn’t surprising. We spend at least 30% of our adult lives at work and it consumes us, like it had her.
We often look at work in isolation. “Oh! Let me get the day’s job done and once I ‘m out these doors I needn’t think about it… it does not affect me. YOLO!”
Sorry to burst the bubble, but it does. No matter where you work, it impacts your life more than you think.
The lines between professional and personal lives are often blurred and will continue to…for good or bad.
A study conducted by Gallup, a Washington D.C. based polling organization, revealed that 2 out of 3 professionals are unhappy at work worldwide!
I recently read in Forbes, that an alarming 63% of people are not happy at work! You’re probably one of them.
So, if work cannot make us happy, doesn’t it put our lives’ happiness quotient at jeopardy?
Of course, I’m not talking about the Unicorn-and-Rainbows-kind-of-Happiness. The glitter and shine is great for when we’re young and naïve, I suppose.
I’m talking about the Happiness of Progress and all the joy and struggle that comes along with it.
It’s true what John Lennon said,
"When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life."
Then, isn’t the only real value to cherish ‘Happiness’?
That’s why it’s the only Value System at WinkTales, and the only one we’ll ever need.
At WinkTales, Being Happy is contributed by,
- Keeping integrity above all
- Sharing mutual respect
- Achieving success, together
These are our mantras to be Happy at work and probably even in life.
While you might have your own happiness contributors, there are also ways to enhance it.
So, here are 12 tips on how to be happy at work,
Happiness is highly associated with peace. Meditation is a proven way to tap into your inner consciousness and being more peaceful.
It improves cognitive abilities and is the answer to many stress-related problems.
Spend 15 mins a day meditating at the workplace. Five in the morning before starting the day. Five more in the afternoon after work and the final Five before you leave for the day.
It frees your mind, brings tranquillity, and helps you focus better. Meditation is one of the easiest things to get acquainted with.
With mindfulness and related practices emerging, the guidance of experts is available to us with a tap on our phones.
So, put in those 15 minutes to meditate, and surely, you will find yourself being happy at work.
2. Make work Buddies
A study by Gallup shows that ‘People with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.’
We have been experiencing this from the days of school. Friends made school better and on many days, they were the only reason we went without throwing a tantrum.
The same holds good at work. Finding happiness at work comes very easily when you have peers to relate and engage with, not just in the workplace, but outside as well.
We call it “friends beyond cubicles”, which ironically we don’t have, but you get the point. At WinkTales, we always head out for a monthly lunch or dinner and bond beyond work, everybody joins! Nothing like a couple of drinks to bring people together.
So, make sure that for all those times you feel blue, you have a friend there to make you feel happy at work.
“University of Bistrol researchers found that the general mood improves a lot if one exercises.”
It is needless to say that the general mood governs how you feel at work. Probably all statistics about happiness say that exercise helps, a lot.
When you take care of your body, your mind is refreshed too. And when the mind is fresh, you feel happy.
Of course, you might not be able to do a full work-out at work, neither is it encouraged (nobody likes smelly sweat, ask your colleagues). However, you can stretch.
Nothing feels better than relaxing those knotted up muscles when you’re sitting for long.
Just as you expel toxins from the body, you expel negativity from your mind, leaving place for happiness.
So, exercise regularly, stretch often, and be happy at work.
4. Surround yourself with happiness enhancers at work
People are 15% more productive when "lean" workplaces are filled with just a few houseplants, as those actively engage with their surroundings are happier.
— The Guardian
If you are looking for process improvements in the workplace, this is one fun way to start. Everyone has something thing that makes them happy.
It might be a small plant, a puzzle, or a picture of your loved ones.
Keep a happiness enhancer at work. It offers a temporary swirl of happiness inside you whenever you look it. You feel more at home.
So, find that happiness enhancer and make sure to put it on your desk.
At WinkTales, while a clean desk policy is usually encouraged, we also feel it’s important to make yourself comfortable.
You’ll find all of us keeping something close to our hearts right at the fore.
5. Set goals for each day
Don’t overburden yourself with impossible goals and to-do lists longer than your grocery bills.
When you hunt down tiring goals, you are setting yourself up to fail. And when you fail, it leaves you feeling sore and blue.
But you may argue that work is burdening and difficult. The best way to tackle this is by setting an achievable but challenging set of goals each day.
And you take them on, one-by-one. Set yourself up to win. When you score off an item of that list, the dopamine hit you get! Ah bliss!
(I sometimes write something on the list just before I’m done with the task to score it off. Guilty pleasures, I tell you!)
So, while you challenge yourself, set yourself up for a win. You will realise happiness at the workplace.
6. Reject negativity in the workplace
We’ve all heard the age-old adage, “Be Positive!” My personal corollary to that is “Reject Negativity.”
Because being positive all the time is exhaustive, and albeit a bit counter-intuitive.
So, don’t fret if you are not very optimistic by nature, or if you have lost your positivity along your career journey.
Gain it back, by rejecting negativity. I know, I know… easier said than done, right?
Here’s my trick.
Whenever I am faced with a stressful situation. I always ask myself two things:
- Is it important - a contributing factor to my goal?
- Whether this will matter to me in the next 5 years?
Most times the answer is no to both, and away goes the need to worry.
Mark Manson, has beautifully explained this in his book, “The subtle art of not giving a f*ck.” A must read.
It can be hard at work, but once you learn rejecting negativity, happiness will find you!
7. Do not Overwork
Overwork can slow down our brains and compromise our emotional intelligence.
— Harvard Business Review
This is a good one. No matter how important it is, overworking regularly gives you only two things- angry loved ones and a bad mood.
Overwork is a leading cause of chronic stress-related issues. It also effects how your mood is when you get back home.
While a stretch here and there is inevitable, it shouldn’t become the norm. And if you are expected to overwork a lot, maybe it is not the right job.
At WinkTales, we’re particular about working efficiently.
We try our best to come in early and leave early (as company who measures progress by performance and not time spent, we’ve had our challenges reinforcing this, but all change, especially the ones for the better, takes time).
When the inevitable times of stretching comes, because we don’t live in a perfect world, we always compensate with a day off.
So, working optimal, working efficiently is the need of the day.
Try and reduce the hours, spread the work evenly, and find time management techniques to counter overwork.
8. Seek out Autonomy
One meta-analysis involving over 400,000 people in 63 countries found that autonomy and control over one’s life matters more to happiness than money.
Autonomy gives you authority to make your own decisions. It gives you independence and responsibility which in turn sparks your creativity and improves your decision-making abilities at work. It makes you a better professional, a happier one!
Now, given that autonomy has to be granted to you by your employer, there are ways to encourage your boss to do so.
Start with delivering better results than is expected of you. Take small decisions by yourself and act upon them (make sure not to get into trouble with this one).
Or work on an individual pet project that benefits your organization and present it to your boss.
Trust me, your boss wants to grant you autonomy. They only have to see it in you, the ability to take it with responsibility first. Show it to them and reap the happy benefits.
At WinkTales, taking ownership is celebrated. Everyone takes things from start to finish and sees the outcomes of their hard sweat, first-hand. All due credit given.
It’s one among the three paths (the other two being –rejecting mediocrity and constant reinvention) to achieve our culture of being “Better than Yesterday.”
9. Learn new things
This world belongs to a millennial workforce. Whether you are a millennial or have a millennial mind-set, stagnation definitely bothers you.
Workplace happiness is achieved as a result of many factors. Constant learning is one of them.
This is the second aspect of our culture, “Reinvent Yourself - Always be learning, always be growing.”
When you do the same thing day in and day out, your mind is bored and this affects your happiness. Reinventing yourself is the solution to that.
With unlearning and learning new things, your mind is stimulated and excited and that brings in the happy vibes.
This is why we dedicate all our working Saturdays to being Open Saturdays, a day of doing something different from our regular work.
We do personal projects and present it to the team, or collaborate and build something new. We have experts coming down sharing their experiences, or we have Toastmasters to become better at our communication.
We always have something new happening.
So, whether your organization has outlets to learn constantly or not, make an effort to learn new things at work, things which interest you, to keep your mind going and happiness soaring at work.
10. Take Breaks
Breaks keep us from getting bored (and thus, unfocused)
— Open Buffer
You can battle the human attention span all you want, and you can push yourself to extremes.
But when you put your mind and body to work continuously, the productivity and creativity goes down.
Taking breaks often is an important contributor of happiness at the workplace. It recharges your mind and body.
Breaks at WinkTales are as quick and small as grabbing lunch together or a quick evening stroll to grab some hot masala chai. Conversations are broad and can range from advice on a range of topics to pulling each other’s legs.
So, take breaks. It increases your focus and productivity and consequentially makes you much happier at work.
11. Love what you do
First off, some of us do not love our jobs. Let us acknowledge that.
And no, the suggestion here is not that you quit right away (this is an argument for another day) cause no job is all unicorns and rainbows.
Any job you do, will have its share of the mundane and the exciting.
So, being interested in your job is putting in the work… it’s almost like keeping the relationship going… to make it work, you’ve got to put in the effort.
So, for you to love the work you do. At least, parts of it. Make sure you make it interesting.
Again, easier said than done?
Here’s my trick, always ask your manager/boss, “Why are we doing this, what is the larger picture and the outcome we’re looking for?”
At WinkTales, we always share the larger picture of our actions and outcomes intended by what we’re doing.
That way we all know even if work becomes a little stressed, a little mundane we’re doing things that are going to make the world better. And nobody said changing the world was easy
So, put in the effort to become interested in your job making it loveable and you, happier for the better.
12. Get away from the workplace
It is equally important to get away from work periodically.
Make sure to use your vacation time and travel, visit your home town, or just spend more time with your loved ones. This makes you happier when you get back to work.
If you do not get away from work at all, imagine the pent-up steam inside that harms your happiness at work.
At WinkTales, it’s part of the way we operate. We have an all-sponsored 2-day vacation every 3 months.
We all need to unwind to get recharged and what better way to do it than traveling to a new place every now and then.
While I’m not sure if your company can take you on vacation every three months you can take a few days off and back to work, recharged.
And you know what they say, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”.
So, there you have it, 12 tips to be happy at work.
Take each day at a time and put these tips to work. See your productivity and mood improve. See yourself become a better professional.
Making every employee happy is our Employee Experience Mission at WinkTales. Do let us know if we are setting the right value system at WinkTales? Do you have any tips of your own? Comment below and share your happiness stories at work.
And the winners of our "Are you happy at work" contest are,
1. Ashwin Lingalwar (Facebook)<@Ashwin Lingalwar>
2. Sonia Loach(Twitter) <@sonia0690>
Congrats to both!
About the Author
Prabhasa Kota, Co-founder & Director, WinkTales
Prabhasa started his career and entrepreneurial journey with WinkTales, he loves to share his experiences on starting up and sustaining in the volatile start-up industry as a millennial entrepreneur.
Special thanks to Mangala, Senior Copy Writer, for contributing her Research and Inputs.