Happiness At Work

Happiness at Work

Wouldn’t it great to feel happy at work most of the time and not just because it’s somebody’s birthday and there are cupcakes?  I’m working on a class for the Portland Underground Graduate School (PUGS) about happiness at work which has me pouring through literature on happiness, authenticity, team work, longevity and more.

When I left my job at Nike 6 years ago to start Positive Disruption I had big ideals.  I had a dream of making the world a better place, being my own boss, relishing my autonomy, working fewer hours, and maybe even making a shit ton of money.  In that time, at least half of those things have proven true and just as many have not.

Since then, I’ve also written a lot about work: how to make it better, how to manage change, how to deal with a bad boss and then some.  While I usually ground my writing in research, personal experience, and insights gleaned from client teams, it recently occurred to me that it’s easy for me to say since I don’t actually go to work like most people do.

Not going to a work can be bit of a problem but not for the reasons you might think. While it can be great to have autonomy, I actually miss what many of you have: working in a team environment toward some common goal(s) with people I love (I get it, you don’t love them all), who interact face-to-face at least a few days a week.

All this got me thinking about the big what-if’s of life.  What if I went back to work somewhere?  What could that look like?  What would I want in terms of my own happiness, meaning, and life satisfaction?  Would I have to go there every day?  Stuff like that.

So, I turned to some of the research on happiness, authenticity, and teaming to see what my ideal contract or job situation could look like.  What I discovered could be a formula for anyone who works in an organization and wants to live their life more by design and less by chance.

Happiness First
Most of us aim at the wrong targets when it comes to happiness.  We get caught up thinking that a promotion, a great vacation, buying a new house, or making more money will make us happier.  While any one of those things can impact your happiness for a period of time, they are less likely to lead to sustained happiness.

When it comes to sustained happiness, our targets need to be balanced across 3 major facets:

  • Life Satisfaction (overall, how satisfied am I with my life?)
  • Daily Emotion (do we report more feelings of positivity vs. negativity? How much do you laugh?)
  • How often we get to use our strengths to do what we do best?

Showing Up Fully at Work
Most of us leave a lot of our real self parked at the door when we step into the office each day.  Now, we have some solid research that supports the benefit of being able to show up fully at work each day.

A recent study in Europe set out to measure how workplace demands and workplace supports might affect the ability to be authentic at work.  They measured job demands such as workload, mental and emotional demand, and supporting job resources like autonomy, opportunities for learning and development, supervisory support, and colleague support.

When the job demands were kept even somewhat in balance and workers felt they had supporting job resources, they reported greater capacity to be authentic at work.  This in turn led to greater job satisfaction, engagement and organizational performance.

What are ways you can foster an environment that balances job demands and pays closer attention to ensuring vital job supports?  If you are an employee or job seeker, what actions might you take to assess or promote the capacity for this in a work place?

We are Tribal by Nature – Teaming Matters
The latest research on success and satisfaction in the workplace is very much about teams.  The people who tend to be the most successful at work, with the greatest staying power, deliver results by creating and maintaining good team dynamics and relationships.  They are more about “we” and less about me.

Star performer cultures become diminishing cultures over time.  Why? Because they encourage people to act with too much separation rather than in a coordinated, supportive fashion.  This creates a dynamic where we eventually peck each other’s feathers off rather than focusing on our external competitors.  Ultimately it means less innovation, less sustainability, and a greater loss of top talent over time.

How would you characterize the team dynamics in your job?  What part can you play in improving them?  What questions about team would you ask if you were looking for a new job?

No, I don’t have an answer to my big life question but this has provided meaningful focus for me to consider.  Stay tuned, there will be more to come…

At Positive Disruption we specialize in working with companies who know that change done well creates better results, awesome levels of engagement, and a workplace that is THE BEST place to be!

"Kim’s training methods and passion for the subject and participants are highly effective! She makes the learning fun and highly results oriented!” 

- Todd Gieber, Director

Sports and Apparel Industry

Schedule a consult with Kim:  503-704-5250kim.lafever@positivedisruption.com

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