What does an organization need to do to make us happy?

In our last post we looked at why happiness matters to you personally. 

And that’s no small thing.

In this post we’ll start to explore what actions an organization needs to take to ensure that you (and others) continue to be happy.  Of course, with your help we will discover at WorkersCount the underlying answers as you and others provide real information about life at work every day.

Having an interesting job matters!

Let’s look at what the academic research has to say.  According to Lise M. Saari’s and Timothy A. Judge’s work,   “one of the most important areas of the work situation to influence job satisfaction—the work itself.”  They call this the “intrinsic job characteristics.” This is interesting because a former boss of mine liked to say that it was a manager’s job to engineer—yes, he was an engineer—their employees’ work so that it was interesting to them.  He said it was the manager’s job often to personally take on the boring drudgery.  As a manager, I have tried to “pay it forward”.

Does your manager do this?  Have you ever found yourself doing this? 

If so, then Bravo!

In one study of workers, they ranked interesting work as the most important job attribute, and good wages ranked fifth.  Whereas when it came to what managers thought employees wanted, good wages ranked first while interesting work ranked fifth (Kovach, 1995).  

Of all the major job satisfaction areas, satisfaction with the nature of the work itself—which includes job challenge, autonomy, variety, and scope—best predicts overall job satisfaction, as well as other important outcomes like employee retention   (Fried 398 • HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT, Winter 2004 & Ferris, 1987; Parisi & Weiner, 1999; Weiner, 2000)

Work Life Balance Matters!

I don’t know about you, but I am “Always On” in my job.  However, this constant intrusion means that I need the ability to reassert my work and life balance.  Things like occasional or regular telecommuting and flexible work schedule--are important to whether we are happy or not with our jobs. http://bit.ly/GPPgsh

Knowing they care matters!

Herb Kelleher at Southwest Airlines is famous for saying that his business succeeded on the basis of one simple maxim: “You have to treat your employees like customers.”  Clearly, we all do our best when we feel appreciated and valued by our boss and colleagues.

Having a collaborative versus competitive environment

I don’t know about you, but I just hate workplace politics and competition.  It makes me have a terrible day, week, or even month. When groups compete for resources and jobs, it means the people in the company and the company as a whole loses. Putting it simply, being happy is not just about delivering: it’s about doing that within collaborative working relationships too.  http://on.wsj.com/GPs0Qn

Feeling you fit is important

We all want to feel resilient, efficient and effective.  Not surprisingly, performance and happiness at work are really high when employees feel they fit within the organizational culture.  Not fitting in a job is kind of like wearing the wrong clothes to a party.  Making matters worse, you feel like you always have to say you are sorry.  I am sure you hate it when others make your feel like you are skating on thin ice.  It is a manager’s job to make you feel like you belong and to stress the importance of diversity to their team.

Feeling you have management’s commitment

Have you ever had one of those managers that says: “we going to have to close things down if this thing or that thing doesn’t happen.”  You feel like they will be okay regardless, but that they are not in the boat with you.  Of course they claim all the credit when you succeed.  We all need it.  We need commitment to perceive what we are doing is worthwhile.  We need to feel that the vision of our organization resonates with our purpose.  According to Jessica Pryce-Jones, CEO and founder of the iOpener Institute: “without greater levels of self-belief, the backbone of confidence, there will be few people who’ll take a risk or try anything new.” And you can’t have confident organizations without confident individuals inside them.

What should I do to be happy?

Our list together will grow and narrow as you use WorkersCount.  However, today we have touched-upon six areas that matter in your workplace today.  If you want happiness, you need to take steps to make your place better or find another place that values its employees.  This is part of what we enable at WorkersCount.com.

Make sure to visit, vote and share your thoughts often because you will count!



4 responses
Loved the article and you’re right in pointing out some of the things that make life at work less interesting and less happy. As the leader of a global learning technologies innovator I discovered some time ago that while we all have drudgery as part of our jobs, it’s possible to make any job a positive experience. My approach has been to challenge employees to do their very best, to support them on their way to success and to get out of the way and let them do it. The result has been a happier workplace and increased productivity and a new job title for me; CEO and Chief Happiness Officer.
Thanks for sharing.
One more that I recently discovered in a case and have observed first hand--Productive employees are happy. Happy employees aren't necessarily productive. With that in mind, one of the best things an organization can do is eliminate productivity roadblocks. There is nothing worse than getting to the end of the day, week, or month and looking back and not making progress.
I agree with all of the above AND i think we also can do something about our happiness at work ourselves and in our teams. I am sure many people would love their CEO to redefine themselves as a chief happiness officer but alas they might be waiting a long time. I think the challenge is to find ways to start conversations about happiness at work throughout organisations. Most people's experience of work is in their teams and with their line managers. So these are the areas that ripe for conversations. There are many ways to start these conversations but for them to be taken seriously and gain legitimacy is not easy. One thing i am experimenting with is happiness at work survey tools that feedback at a team level rather than just sit with HR.
This is probably not unique, however has come across a website in Denmark (and unfortunately in Danish only) named 'Project Happiness at Work' It is full of stories, videos, examples etc about what and how companies/organisations and individuals, from public to private sector have made initiatives and impact on this. 5 mins viewing and one is left with a huge smile as it is the most life is good enhancing and uplifting thing ever seen, and I only wish it could be shared with the world, because it deserves to be.