5 easy ways to boost your happiness at work

Disengaged? Unproductive? Underpaid? Not delighted by the beanbag chairs in the breakroom? You’re not alone. Try these approaches to improving your morale—and your performance.

Let’s try a little experiment. Go to the Google search bar and type, “My job is” and see Google’s recommendations to complete the statement. My results: My job is. . .

  • Killing me
  • Boring (and so boring)
  • Making me depressed
  • Done here
  • Killing my soul

Telling, isn’t it? Although Americans spend more time at work than people in many other parts of the industrialized world, it seems we’re rather unhappy. Gallup says we have an employee engagement crisis , with 70 percent of Americans not engaged at work. Let’s say you have found your passion. You’re happy. Your job allows you to give back. You’re happy. You have perks such as ping-pong tables and happy hours. You’re happy.

Free download: Want better employee engagement? Learn from brands like Gallup, Yahoo, Denver Water, Hamilton Health Sciences and Blinds.com.

Not so fast. Being happy takes intention and practice just like anything else (even with perks). Here are some key reasons we’re not happy, and some practical tips to turn that around:

1. You make too many decisions. When you tax your brain with too many decisions, you experience decision fatigue. You make better decisions when you have fewer to weigh.

Tip to turn it around: Put some decisions on autopilot. Streamline your business attire (channel your inner Steve Jobs, perhaps), and organize your closet so you don’t have to dither about what to wear. Determine a set menu for lunches or dinners, so there is nothing to decide. Delegate decisions to your team that don’t require your input.

2. You’re not feeling productive. At day’s end, if you don’t feel you’ve been productive, you’ll question your self-worth.

Tip to turn it around: Acknowledge your progress. Making to-do lists and crossing completed items gives you a visual and mental affirmation that you are accomplishing things. Discipline yourself to shun distractions such as checking your phone and email.

3. You feel you’re underpaid. When there is a perception of inequality in pay, it leads to employee unhappiness. This is historically the top reason employees are dissatisfied.

Tip to turn it around: You have to ask for a pay raise, but try to have confidence. Payscale found that 75 percent of people who asked for a raise got one. Be prepared by knowing your worth and the accomplishments you have achieved. Even if your pay raise isn’t granted, you should walk out knowing what you’ll have to achieve to get one.

4. Expectations aren’t clear. When there is ambiguity about your role and responsibilities, it’s difficult to stay motivated and happy. Gallup found that only half of employees understand what is expected of them.

Tip to turn it around: Confirm with your supervisor that the tasks listed on your job description are still accurate. In many cases, employees handle more than what’s on their job description. Update it if necessary to include all the tasks you do. Discuss your career goals and job growth with your supervisor, and always ask for feedback about your performance.

5. You feel out of control. It’s challenging to remain positive when you feel this way. Although some issues at work will always be beyond your direct authority or impact, you can take charge of other things.

Tip to turn it around: Start and end your day in a positive way. Use your commute to listen to an uplifting podcast, savor your coffee away from your desk or perform a random act of kindness. At day’s end, acknowledge an achievement or something you are grateful for. These are ways you can control your day and start and end your workday on a high note.

Because most of us spend more waking hours at work than we do at home, it’s important to do what you can to be happy in your workplace. What are things you do to boost your on-the-job happiness? Please share with us in the comments below.

Bernard Marr is a best-selling author, keynote speaker and leading business and data expert. A version of this post first appeared on LinkedIn.

(image via Heron Agency)

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