27 September 2023

Spreading the joy: How to do your bit for workplace happiness

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Michelle Gibbings* says that while it’s unrealistic to love every moment of the working day it is possible to spread the joy around as far as possible.

The alarm goes off or your iPhone pings to signal the start of the working day.

Do you jump out of bed excited or roll over and wish you didn’t have to go to work?

For many people it’s the latter.

It’s unrealistic to believe it’s possible to love every minute of your working day.

There’s always something that will come along and unsettle the equilibrium, or even someone who will throw a curve ball that unsettles the day.

On the whole I love my work, and I consider myself very fortunate to have the opportunity to do what I do.

Yet there are still some days when I find it hard to get started.

Gallup, which periodically assesses the level of worker engagement across the world, found in its most recent study that only 15 per cent of workers are engaged at work.

Clearly there’s some work to be done to create happier and more engaged employees.

What can you — just you alone — do to bring out more joy and enjoyment from your work environment?

Here are some ways to get you started.

Reshape your job description:

Don’t be limited by what you think your role is. Instead, take an expansive approach.

Your job description outlines the key tasks and responsibilities of your role.

However, you don’t need to limit your scope of work to what is written on that piece of paper.

There are often many opportunities to expand what you do to include other activities.

These could be more intellectually stimulating, or you are curious about them.

It could an area where you are keen to acquire new or further skills, or see as beneficial to your career development.

Take the initiative and seek out those opportunities.

As well as finding your work more interesting, you’ll also be delivering more value than expected, which is good for your career progression.

Find a friend:

Tom Rath in his book, Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without, outlines research which shows that employees who have best friends at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs.

Additionally, if they have at least three good friends at work, they are 96 per cent more likely to be satisfied with their lives.

When you work with people you like the work is more enjoyable and you are likely to find yourself more connected.

Connection is at the root of all human existence. When you feel more connected at work, you’ll feel happier at work too.

Build in milestones:

Everyone likes to see they are making progress. We find it motivating.

Whereas, a lack of progress and constant setbacks are demotivating.

Consequently, find ways to break your work into smaller, more bite-size pieces, so it is easier to see more regular progress.

Monitor this progress and keep it visible.

Say ‘no’ more often:

There’s nothing worse than feeling you are drowning in work.

Yet you seem unappreciated as more and more work comes your way.

It can be very easy to say ‘yes’ when a request comes in, and yet, there will be times when you need to say ‘no’.

It helps to set realistic boundaries about what you will and won’t do, and how you will respond to requests for work outside standard working hours.

If you don’t set boundaries that you are okay with, you’ll ultimately end up resenting the other person.

Set your own rewards:

Don’t wait for the internal reward and recognition scheme to kick into action.

Instead, take the time to reward yourself.

When you’ve hit a goal, reached a target or achieved something that you’ve been striving for, find a way to reward yourself for your efforts that is meaningful for you.

Take a break:

Regularly take breaks during the day, and when you can set aside time to go outside your office or work environment and walk.

The key is to get away from your desk and shift your environment.

When you shift your environment, you shift your state and that can help to reset your mindset.

You are also likely to find that the problem you were trying to solve is now easier to resolve.

All these ideas require you to take action.

As the former United Kingdom Prime Minister, statesman and novelist, Benjamin Disraeli said: “Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”

* Michelle Gibbings is the Melbourne-based founder of Change Meridian who works with leaders and teams to help them get fit for the future of work. She can be contacted at [email protected]

This article first appeared at www.changemeridian.com.au

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