A Three-fer on Work and Happiness

2009 September 9

I am just
Creative Commons License photo credit: *Zara

I’ve been thinking about happiness at work lately. Having started my own company just about six months ago, and being happily busy and productive, the relationship has been obvious to me between doing something you love and being happy at work. Duh, right?

But it’s more than that: there’s a feeling of empowerment in having chosen my occupation rather than letting it choose me, and being busy with work that I feel good about. I mean, that’s not earth-shatteringly novel either, I realize, but the difference is huge: I went from being a passionate advocate for doing the right thing in multiple environments where that made me a pain in the CEO’s butt to now being a passionate advocate for doing the right thing as CEO of my own company.

Realistically, not everyone is going to start their own company, or will even want to, but we all still need to find happiness. So how do you reconcile happiness with long days doing work you sometimes may not love?

Coincidentally, in some of the blogs I read regularly for inspiration, I ran across a theme this week pertaining to work and happiness.

Gill Corkindale in HarvardBusiness.org had a piece on When Work Doesn’t Make You Happy that addresses that very question, and finds that choice, to the extent that we have it, is key:

“It all comes down to choice, and this is where I believe happiness lies. In choosing — as far as you are able — what you want to do and how you will do it. While not all of us can choose our work and colleagues, we can all choose how we approach things — with an open, optimistic, and positive outlook or with a frustrated, irritated one.”

In a somewhat similar (but perhaps more direct) vein, Jason Seiden, in a piece called Screw Your Career Path. Live Your Story, advocates embracing the surprises in life and finding your true self in the way you live out your choices:

“It’s time, as individuals, to remember that we are each protagonists in our own stories—not fictional ones, either, but real, live, actual, here-I-am-in-the-flesh-stories. [...] Only protagonists can know surprises, friendship, obstacles, twists, victories, villains, daring, love, temptation, loss, luck, setbacks, choices, laughter, tears… only protagonists can know success.”

And finally, from the managerial perspective, SmartBlog on Workforce covered the happiness-productivity connection in a piece called 3 ways to maximize your workers’ happiness — and performance:

“The secret to maximizing performance is to create an environment in which your employees are happy. A happy employee is highly engaged, flourishing and has achieved an acceptable work-life balance.

We know that high employee engagement leads to high performance. Recent studies by the Corporate Leadership Council, Towers Perrin and Development Dimensions International, show that a highly engaged workforce results in a 20% improvement in employee productivity, a 50% reduction in unplanned attrition and a 23% increase in customer satisfaction.”

It’s as if there’s been something in the air to make us all think along the same lines.

What about you – have you been thinking about the link between happiness and meaningful work, or between happiness and productivity, or perhaps the three-way link between happiness and meaningful work and productivity? What conclusions have you come to, different from what we’ve quoted above?

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • Delicious
  • Sphinn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • LinkedIn
  • FriendFeed
  • Squidoo
  • Technorati Favorites
  • Share/Bookmark
One Response leave one →
  1. 2009 September 9

    Kate, thanks for the blog love. Glad to know I’m on your circuit—I’m clearly in good company!

    The world clearly needs more success stories, and we won’t get there without a whole lot more idealists in the world; I see my job as torching the old (in a non-carbon-releasing, eco-friendly, aqua-responsible way, of course) to make space for the new.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

SEO Powered by Platinum SEO from Techblissonline