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How to Be Happy At Work

It’s Sunday, and suddenly, all the good vibes from the weekend starts to ebb from you. Your eyes start to dull, your voice gets taut, your anxiety rise and your patience short. It’s not the Monday blues affecting you. It’s the thought of work that has your heart constricting, your eyes narrowing, your mouth dry and your head aching. More and more, you’re thinking of quitting.

Now, why is this? You love your job. You were so proud when you first started. How did you go from excited to apprehensive? How can you find happiness at work again? How do you flip the switch from disengaged to engaged?

Professor Lyubomirsky posits that humans are remarkably adapt at getting used to any positive changes in their lives, a phenomenon she calls “hedonic adaptation”. Read more here – This builds on the theory developed in the 1970s, where many scientists thought that everyone has a happiness baseline – which they always return to – despite life’s ups and downs. This is called “set point theory”. Perhaps, you’re starting to get a feel for where this piece is going. So, what has this got to do with why you went from excited about work to apprehensive? From engaged to disengaged?

Nir Eyal recently wrote an article on LinkedIn where he alludes to this as he discusses if Clubhouse the drop-in audio chat app will become a habit or a Has-Been in his exploration of Variable Rewards. Variable rewards are the rocket fuel that power engagement. So, at first when you got your job, you hit a positive high which slowly dropped to baseline as you got used to the demands of the job, your colleagues and the perks (variable reward). Overtime, this baseline dropped as the variable rewards got predictable leading to routine, your basic needs changed, but your job didn’t, you grew in mastery(knowledge/skill), but your job specifications didn’t get the memo, so, you’ve become bored, and it could also be that you feel a lack of voice and autonomy.

Creating Happiness At Work

First, do a self check in using the Happiness Framework – Basic Needs, Autonomy, Mastery and Inclusion = Meaning, Purpose, Positivity and Pleasure. This check up helps you identify what is lacking.

Next, Here are things you can do before considering quitting.

  • Issue Sell – Find, Identify and Align yourself with ambassadors who will promote your cause to those with the wherewithal to effect the changes you want.

  • Framing – Study the personality, behaviour and language of those you need to effect the changes you are after. What are their priorities? What is their mindset? What are their triggers or motivators? Frame your cause to reflect this. This way you get their attention quicker and your language does the convincing for you.

  • Socialising / Networking – Find those whose skills and positions complements yours, but have more influence than you do. Remember, your network is your net worth. Your network can make or break you.

  • Job Crafting – Take intentional and proactive steps to redesign how we work, our relationships and most importantly how we think of what we do. Find a purpose (what’s your purpose) and align your job to it, so it reflects this. For example, if you’re wanting to provide more support to others, you can consider training in mental health, mentorship or volunteering as an extension of what you do.

Are you a leader wondering how to boost your peoples’ engagement and happiness at work? Start with the culture of your organisation. Are your people psychologically and physically safe? Do they have Voice? Do they have Autonomy? Do you provide Learning and Development opportunities for everyone? Do you challenge them? Do you understand your peoples’ personalities and behavioural types? Their pain points? Do you have a wellbeing strategy? These are salient questions to examine as the response gives you your answer.

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