“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
— Albert Schweitzer
According to former surgeon general Vivek H. Murthy, the biggest health concern facing our country isn’t cigarettes or obesity. It’s loneliness and isolation, and the workplace is a central antagonist in the epidemic.
“Our social connections are in fact largely influenced by the institutions and settings where we spend the majority of our time,” Murthy said. “That includes the workplace.”
And, the statistics back up these assertions. Less than a third of workers are happy with their jobs. Seventy-one percent of employees are looking for new job opportunities. However, it may not be that the jobs themselves are to blame for this widespread discontent.
“We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s.” Murphy said.
Somewhere along the line as we became more technologically connected at work, we have unplugged and disengaged from those around us. Consequently, it appears that finding happiness at work lies in reestablishing connections that imbue what we do with value and meaning. This means honoring our relationships with our coworkers, clients, the world and ourselves.
Here are five ways we can actively promote our own happiness at work by working on our relationships with ourselves and others.
The first step in working on our relationships is connecting with those around us in a meaningful way. A famous Harvard longitudinal study on health that spanned 80 years found that “how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health.”
This means that our physical health is directly impacted by the health of our relationships. Nurturing healthy relationships take conscious intention. Try to build connections into your day whether its going out to coffee with colleagues or eating lunch together. Take an active and sincere interest in the lives of those around you and follow-up regularly.
These days organizations are scrambling to increase employee engagement. However, research shows that “inspired” employees are 225 more productive than engaged workers. And, inspired employees blow disengaged ones out of the water, achieving three times more than them. Deloitte research suggests that incorporating volunteerism into company culture can “boost morale, atmosphere and brand perception.” An easy way to incorporate a little inspiration into your workday is to participate in your organization’s volunteer programs. If your company doesn’t have one, create one for a cause you believe in.
3. Being Values-Driven
An organization’s values and how strictly they observe them are inherently part of its core culture and reflects how it values its relationships with its workers. You need to consider these values as a critical part of any benefit offering as they will shape a significant portion of any given day. Find a company whose values are alive in its basic operating principals and the relationships between its workers instead of one whose values are only apparent in its mission statement. During the interview process, don’t be scared to ask about values and how they manifest in the workplace.
4. Taking an Active Role in Professional Development
Take an active interest in developing yourself personally and professionally. Don’t be afraid to demand professional development opportunities that are important to you so that you don’t get stagnant in your position. Evolving professionals tend to be happier and more productive. When looking at employment opportunities, make sure you factor in the companies’ respective stances on professional development to ensure that the job affords real opportunities for personal growth beyond your salary.
5. Prioritizing Work-Life Balance
Everyone has a life beyond the workplace, and they have a right to feel that their organization values that life. Look for companies that provide flexibility and space in employees’ schedules to care for themselves and their families. This sort of sustainable schedule allows companies to ensure that their company culture and its employees remain happy and healthy.
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