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5 Simple Ways to be Happier at Work

Bernard Marr

Let’s do a little experiment.

Go to the Google search bar and type, “My job is” and see Google’s recommendations to complete the statement.

My results: My job is. . .

  • Killingme
  • Boring (andsoboring)
  • Makingmedepressed
  • Donehere
  • Killingmysoul

Telling, isn’tit?

While Americans spend more time at work than people in many other parts of the industrialized world, it seems we’re pretty unhappy. And Gallup would go so far to say we have an employee engagement crisis, with 70% of Americans not engaged at work!

First, let’s cast aside assumptions and say you have found your passion. You’re happy. Your job allows you to give back. You’re happy. You have perks such as ping-pong tables and happy hours. You’re happy.

Not so fast. Being happy takes intention and practice just like anything else (even with those perks).

Here are some of the main reasons we’re not happy, and some practical tips to turn that around.

1. Too many decisions

When you tax your brain with too many decisions, you experience decision fatigue. You’re better at making decisions the fewer you have to make.

Tip to turn it around: You can put some of your decisions on auto-pilot. Streamline your business attire (channel your inner Steve Jobs) and organize your closet so you don’t have to decide what to wear. Determine a set menu for lunches or dinners, so there is nothing to decide. Delegate decisions to your team that aren’t critical for you to be a part of.

2. Not feeling productive

When you don’t feel like you’ve been productive at the end of the day, it can really make you question your self-worth.

Tip to turn it around: Acknowledge the progress you make! Making to-do lists and crossing items off as you complete them gives you a visual and mental boost that let’s you see you are accomplishing things. Be disciplined to turn off distractions (checking your phone and email are common culprits). 

3. Your perception of your paycheck

When there is a perception of inequality in pay, it leads to unhappy employees. This is historically the top reason employees are dissatisfied.

Tip to turn it around: You have to ask for a pay raise, but have confidence. Payscale found that 75 percent of people who asked for a raise got one. Be prepared by knowing your worth and accomplishments you have achieved. Even if your pay raise isn’t granted, you should be able to walk out with what you need to achieve to get one in the future.

4. Expectations aren’t clear

When there is ambiguity about your role and responsibilities, it’s difficult to stay motivated and happy. Gallup found that only half of employees understand what is expected of them.

Tip to turn it around: Confirm with your supervisor that the tasks listed on your job description are still accurate. In many cases, employees handle more than what’s on their job description. Update it if necessary to include all the tasks you do. Discuss your career goals and job growth with your supervisor and always ask for feedback about your performance.

5. Feeling out of control

It’s challenging to remain positive when you feel out of control. While some issues at work are beyond your impact, you can take charge of other things.

Tip to turn it around: You can start and end your day in a positive way. You can use your commute to listen to an uplifting podcast, savor your coffee away from your desk or perform a random act of kindness. At the end of the day, be sure to acknowledge an achievement or something you are grateful for. These are ways YOU get to control the day you have and start and end your work day in a positive way.

Since most of us spend more waking hours at work than we do at home, it’s important to do what you can to be happy there. What are things you do at work to boost your happiness? Share with us in the comments below.