Increasing your workplace happiness isn't just a personal pursuit; your happiness directly impacts your effectiveness as a leader and your team's overall productivity and well-being. Thus, it is absolutely necessary to find out the answer to your question, "How to be happy at work?" As a leader, your mood and mindset will influence everyone you interact with. Think back to the times when you were performing at your peak at work and how that coincided with your personal happiness and vice versa. That link between happiness and success is not coincidental- taking time to make yourself happy will have a measurable positive impact on those you influence at work. This guide will provide you with five effective strategies to increase your workplace happiness at work, enabling you to lead with an eye on opportunity and inspire your team to thrive.
1. How To Be Happy At Work? - Cultivate Meaningful Relationships
Strong interpersonal relationships contribute significantly to increasing workplace happiness. Take the time to connect with your team members on a personal level. Show genuine interest in their lives and aspirations. Engage in open and empathetic conversations that go beyond work-related matters. Building these connections not only fosters a positive work environment but also encourages collaboration and trust among team members which ultimately leads to happiness at work.
Find ways to build these relationships that cater to your motivations and preferences. Do you prefer connecting in-person? Organize lunch or after-hours gatherings. Do you prefer to connect virtually so you have more time to tend to your priorities at home? Set aside a little bit of time in a task-oriented meeting to get to know someone on a more personal level. At the end of the day, these meaningful relationships not only boost your personal happiness, they also create positive associations when others think about you so those closed-door conversations where decisions are being made are more likely to bode in your favor. This is one of the surefire ways to help you find a satisfactory answer to your question, "How to be happy at work?" and become a key contributor to happiness at work.
2. Workplace Happiness: Acknowledge Wins
Acknowledging wins is a powerful way to increase your happiness at work. Regularly reflecting on your accomplishments, both big and small, and acknowledging the efforts of your team increase satisfaction and incite positive motivation. Expressing appreciation boosts morale and encourages a culture of recognition. Consider starting team meetings with a gratitude-sharing session to set a positive tone and reinforce a sense of value among team members. If expressing gratitude seems too woo-woo to you, start a meeting by having everyone highlight a recent team win. The goal is to help both you and your team balance the narrative between highlighting the positive with focusing on the gaps to increase work happiness.
The natural inclination for both high achievers and in the corporate space is to focus on solving problems. This lens inevitably pushes us to focus on the things we’re doing wrong and neglect the things we are doing right. By intentionally trying to create balance where recognized successes get just as much air time (and time inside your brain) as gaps or mistakes, we increase optimism, motivation, and confidence both for ourselves as well as our team. If you don’t currently have a practice where you individually and as a team carve out time to recognize accomplishments and strengths, this is an easy but incredibly effective exercise to boost your happiness, and fuel your success, at work. The chances of you asking 'How to be happy at work?' reduce significantly if you have gratitude towards things that you have. Also, pay attention to that internal narrative and make sure it's helping you- it is a powerful conductor impacting your mood behind the scenes.
3. Promote Work-Life Balance For Happiness At Work
As a leader, you play a pivotal role in setting the precedent for work-life balance. Demonstrate the importance of time management by prioritizing your own well-being. Encourage your team members to take breaks, disconnect after work hours, and engage in activities that rejuvenate them. When your team sees you prioritizing self-care, they're more likely to do the same, resulting in improved overall workplace happiness and productivity.
In the US, we have a pervasive culture of “busyness” that normalizes the practice of checking email at all hours, prioritizing the needs of our boss and colleagues over the needs of our loved ones, and feeling guilty when we take time for ourselves. Organizations that I work with who over-index on this create what I can a “swirl”- they are busy just for the sake of being busy and take their eye off the strategy. But all that time in the weeds and responding to requests the instant they come up lead to frequent mistakes, an inability to prioritize, and burnout. Research shows that you cannot be creative when you don’t create pockets of time to disconnect and allow yourself to be inspired. So shed the guilt and calendar time daily for you to do something you really enjoy to increase your happiness at work and instead of staying stuck with the question 'How to be happy at work?', start enjoying things.
4. Foster Personal Growth For A Happy Workplace
Create an environment that supports continuous learning and development. Invest in your own personal growth and development and see if you can create access or funding for skill enhancement and career advancement for your team as well. When individuals feel that their personal and professional growth is valued, they experience higher job satisfaction. Additionally, focusing on your own growth by seeking feedback, attending leadership workshops, investing in coaching, and staying updated on industry trends, can lead to increased self-confidence and contentment.
It can be common to get so busy that we stop prioritizing time to learn. I am personally guilty of this- it’s an easy one to take off the list. But every time you learn a new skillset and up-level yourself in some way, growth and increased confidence inevitably follows. The best way to make sure personal growth doesn’t fall off the list is to identify early in the year ONE thing you want to learn and, if possible, seek corporate funding to enroll. Most companies will make the investment in their employees if the new skill directly improves your job performance. Take advantage of this often hidden benefit to improve your workplace happiness.
5. Lead with Purpose
Personal satisfaction and happiness come when individuals believe in the purpose and impact of their work. If you haven’t already, spend some time reflecting on your purpose. Why do you get up and go to work every day? What impact are you able to drive through the work that you do? Finding a north star (aka purpose) that fuels you through all the emails, meetings, and challenging situations will help you weather the storm and feel good about your contribution.
As it relates to your team, helping them understand the meaning their work has will fuel their work happiness as well. As you’re leading meetings and initiatives, clearly communicate the organization's mission and how each team member contributes to it. Help your team find meaning in their tasks by connecting their efforts to larger goals that impact the greater good. Aligning personal values with professional responsibilities enhances job satisfaction and creates a sense of fulfillment.
By implementing these five strategies, you can enhance your happiness at work as a leader. Remember that your emotional state reverberates through your team and influences the overall work environment. By cultivating meaningful relationships, practicing gratitude and focusing on wins, promoting work-life balance, fostering personal growth, and leading with purpose, you'll not only boost your own well-being but also inspire those around you to thrive and contribute to a happier, more productive workplace.
Here are some of the services that I provide to help you become a better leader by ensuring highest standards of workplace happiness;
About The Author
Amy Sanchez is a certified executive and career coach located in the Bay Area who specializes in helping mid- to senior-level executives achieve their full potential and build the lives they want.
She has an MBA from USC’s Marshall School of Business and 13 years of corporate experience.
She is a skilled coach and neutral partner who provides clients with tangible tools and effective guidance to successfully navigate the waters of this fast-paced, hyper-connected, high-stakes job market.