It’s hard to be happy. Right now, parts of the United States are burning with wildfires, hurricanes are hitting the East Coast, the Delta variant is sending people to the hospital and we’re watching the horrific situation in Afghanistan play out in real time. There are real concerns over keeping our jobs and what our futures will look like.
The pandemic is a constant cold, stark reminder that life is fleeting. We’re not invulnerable. Good people get sick and die. This brutal recognition could be both saddening and invigorating. People could either throw their hands up in despair or take action to improve the quality of their lives.
The nearly two-year ordeal of living with a deadly virus has made many folks rethink their lives, jobs and careers. People from all walks of life have started deeply contemplating their jobs, and wondering if this is all there is to life. It’s a collective “Great Realization” that we can no longer mindlessly fritter away our time, and need to critically evaluate what will make us happy.
A study of work happiness commissioned by Indeed, the large job aggregation site, and conducted by Forrester, delved into how we feel about our jobs and careers.
Here are some of the key highlights:
- Fifty percent of people believe expectations around work happiness have increased over the last five years.
- Ninety-seven percent of people felt happiness at work is possible.
- Ninety-two percent of people said how they feel at work impacts how they feel at home.
- Most respondents said they’d leave if they’re not being fairly paid (30%), followed by not feeling happy at work most of the time (19%) and not feeling energized in most of their work tasks (18%).
- Feeling energized (17%) and a sense of belonging (12%) are the top drivers of what makes people happy at work
We are seeing people take action. The “Great Resignation” movement, in part, is a backlash against bad bosses and companies that make workers feel miserable and unhappy. Fortunately, the job market is doing well with about 10 million job openings. This offers the opportunity for people who desire a change to have the chance to find a new position that provides more money, career growth and an increase in happiness.
The study refers to a 2021 Microsoft survey of hybrid work, in which 40% of the respondents said “they are considering leaving their employers this year.” The numbers are staggering. In June alone, 4 million workers resigned. Instead of a “Great Resignation,” Indeed identifies this movement as a Great Realization of the innate need for humans to “find happier, more fulfilling work and, in turn, lives.”
People have fought back against being told to return to an office setting. Major corporations have heard their voices, relented and pushed back their plans to January. By that time, the virus outbreak would be at about the two-year mark. As employees mostly worked at home, a sizable number of people may elect never to return to the physical office, as they desire to preserve the higher quality of life they’ve been enjoying.
In the study, 92% of people pointed out that the way “they feel at work impacts how they feel at home.” It makes sense. If you’re miserable doing what you do for a living, it will infect all other parts of your life. You’ll take it out on family, friends and co-workers. Since everyone is carrying their own baggage, they don’t need nor want to deal with malcontents who only bring them down. Due to their poor attitude, they’ll be passed over for promotions and not assigned important career-enhancing tasks. This causes a downward spiral for the disgruntled worker.
According to psychology professor and happiness specialist Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, “Happier people experience more success, positive reviews, greater creativity, higher incomes and less burnout.” Lyubomirsky recommends, “ Finding ways to be genuinely happy in our work and personal lives is certainly an achievement in and of itself, but it also makes us better at our jobs.”
Compensation, job titles, the status of working at a particular company, stock options and growth opportunities are seen as important metrics in a job. They are, but there’s more to it, according to the survey. Indeed’s work happiness study and consultation from leading happiness experts Lyubomirsky and Dr. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, director of Oxford University’s Wellbeing Research Centre, identified the following key drivers of work happiness:
- Belonging – I feel a sense of belonging in my company.
- Energy – In most of my work tasks, I feel energized.
- Appreciation – There are people at work who appreciate me as a person.
- Purpose – My work has a clear sense of purpose.
- Achievement – I am achieving most of my goals at work.
- Compensation – I am paid fairly for my work.
- Support – There are people at work who give me support and encouragement.
- Learning – I often learn something at work.
- Inclusion – My work environment feels inclusive and respectful of all people.
- Flexibility – My work has the time and location flexibility I need.
- Trust – I can trust people in my company.
- Management – My manager helps me succeed.
Just as you shower daily and brush your teeth, it’s imperative to routinely focus and work on your happiness. The feeling will be fleeting, at times. That’s okay. Life will continue to be hard, but you can’t give up hope. Start now to see the positive changes.