So, what does it feel like to be happy at work?
For every person it will be different as we all have unique backgrounds, expectations and dreams. However the management literature suggests that there are two types of happy feelings at work, and these are feeling satisfied, and feeling engaged.
The difference between satisfaction and engagement sounds minor, but in practice I think it is profound. Here is why:
Feeling satisfied implies that at that point in time you have your basic needs filled, and you are content. All of the so called “hygiene” factors are in place, being decent working conditions, supervision, salary, job security and co-workers. Satisfaction is a nice state at work, and is comfortable. For some, feeling satisfied is just perfect, they have no more desires expectations. They know what is expected of them, and can return tomorrow to a stable work environment. Satisfaction and contentment is happiness for some.
However, for others, feeling satisfied is not enough to make them happy. Satisfaction can be viewed as a static state, providing no motivation or momentum to do any more. Some people need more to make them happy at work – they need to feel engaged. Being engaged is about having an emotional connection to your job, colleagues and organisation. It is about really believing in what you are doing, and being committed to doing it well. Engaged employees feel inspired, stimulated and supported and put in discretionary effort to deliver the best.
Something for You To Try
So now here is a question for you. What is your ideal definition of happiness at work?
While we are very good at identifying when we are not happy, we don’t often take the time to think and define exactly what happiness means for us at work. Are you happy just knowing that you are safe and secure, you have decent pay and your colleagues and supervisors are ok? Or do you expect more from your work? Does happiness for you mean feeling committed, inspired and motivated to go beyond your best? Actually documenting our definitions of happiness at work makes it really helpful to identify those things that we are grateful for in our current jobs, but also to pinpoint what is lacking for us. Only by identifying the gaps between our expectations and the reality can we take proper action to resolve them.
Take some time now to write down some words that describe what it feels like for you to be happy at work.