We’ve blogged about how to avoid burnout. We’ve blogged about how to deal with difficult colleagues, how to deal with stress in the workplace and how to stop being angry and we hope they’ve been useful to you, but to round off this ‘How To…’ series, we’re going rather more upbeat…

This time we’re going to give you the inside skinny on how to be happy at work!

The thing is, work is stressful and there are a lot of internal and external pressures to deal with (as you will have read in the other blogs in this series) and it seems that being miserable at work has become a way of life. The thousand-mile-an-hour world we inhabit is just getting faster and faster.

More and more demands are made of our time and often, we feel overloaded but as the wise young sage Ferris Bueller once said, ‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’.

And he’s right (and also about a great many more things if you grew up as a teenager in the 80s).

*INTERESTING ASIDE: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off came out 32 years ago and Matthew Broderick who played the 18-year old high-school legend (when he was 23) is now 56.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. How to be happy at work.

At first glance, the stats don’t look good. Back in 2014, pollsters Gallup did a worldwide study taking in a staggering 180 million employees in 142 countries and only 13% said they were happily engaged at work, so how do we fix what on the surface appears to be a crisis of biblical proportions

Is It Possible To Be Happy At Work?

Many people will say that it depends on what you do. There’s a great infographic from happify.com that says that the people with the most satisfying jobs are clergymen and women , firefighters and physical therapists and agencycentral.co.uk say the careers giving the least job satisfaction are municipal clerks, maids, people who work in fast-food restaurants and insurance brokers.

However, we bet that there are plenty of unhappy vicars, firefighters and therapists while we’re sure we could find some happy council workers, burger-flippers and insurance salespeople.

It’s not about the job you do, but how you go about doing it

Being happy at work doesn’t require you to do much. In fact, it’s deceptively simple to achieve but for many it seems like an unattainable goal.

All we have to do is flip the statement ‘is it possible to be happy at work’ to ‘it is possible to be happy at work. A tiny difference but with massive positive consequences.

Here’s How…

Have A Sense Of Meaning

In 1983, Apple demi-god Steve Jobs convinced then president of Pepsi-Cola John Sculley to leave his job by asking him one question: ‘Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?’

Not only did it spark a sense of intrigue and curiosity, it gave Sculley the unique opportunity to do some incredibly meaningful work. In a study from Adam Grant, a professor at the world-renowned Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, he discovered that ‘employees who know how their work has a meaningful, positive impact on others are not just happier than those who don’t; they are vastly more productive, too.’

Whatever the size of the goal, have a sense of meaning when you do it.

Create Your Own Nest

Make your space your own. Who among us wouldn’t feel happier if we had pictures of our kids or partner to look at, a plant or even the entire contents of Boots’ moisturiser aisle next to the phone? You spend 8-10 hours a day sat there so personalise where you work in the same way you personalise where you live (not uncoincidentally the place we usually feel happiest…).

Make a Bessie Mate

At times we’ve all felt lonely at work but it’s an incredibly reassuring feeling to have someone on-hand you can talk to, laugh with, plot world domination with or share a coffee and a sandwich with at lunch.

Writing in no lesser periodical than the Harvard Business Review, Provost and professor of management at the University of Kentucky Christine M Riordan says that those who ‘have friends at work perceive their job as more fun, enjoyable, worthwhile, and satisfying, and furthermore, [it] can create a support system, comradery and a sense of loyalty.’

Always Look Forward

Most business experts will say that we all make better decisions and crucially be more satisfied with the results if you know that what you’re doing today aligns with your long-terms goals. Know where you want to be and what you need to do to get there.

Say ‘Thanks.’

A small gesture it may be, but, according to Adam Grant (qv) and Professor Francesca Gino of the Harvard Business School ‘receiving expressions of gratitude makes us feel a heightened sense of self-worth, and that in turn triggers other helpful behaviours toward both the person we are helping and other people that are around us.’

How much better do you feel when the person you stop for at a zebra-crossing says thank you?

Do What Ferris Says

Stop. Take a moment. We all need breathing space to reflect on what’s been done and to focus on what’s next, whether it’s a 15-minute coffee and a chinwag or a two-week holiday in the sun.

Without a natural break, says author of Real Happiness At Work Sharon Salzburg, ‘in the face of constant demands, we won’t be creative, competent, or cheerful to control our daily stress levels.’

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Perhaps the most obvious one on the list but by staying hydrated, eating properly and getting enough sleep, energy levels go up, concentration levels go up, productivity and creativity levels go up and headaches, fatigue and snappiness goes down.

Reward Yourself

This one’s the most fun! You can actually prepare for happiness. At the start of a project, tell yourself that when it’s completed you will do something nice for yourself (and your partner or kids or whoever). It really doesn’t matter what it is – a family dinner, that pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing up or a new iPad – but setting attainable targets and then rewarding yourself when you get there gives you an enormous sense of self-worth and accomplishment.


We feel better when we’re happier. We work harder and smarter when we’re happier. People around us are happier.

For more information about how to be happy at work, contact us today at Vital Minds Business Training. It may be the best call you make this year…

T: 07931 325 642




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