If you work at Zoom, Costco, or LinkedIn, you probably go to work with a smile on your face. Those three companies topped a survey of employee happiness in 2019. The survey was conducted by Comparably, a site that monitors workplace culture and compensation. Participants were asked questions such as whether they were proud to be part of their company, whether they were excited to go to work each day, and whether they look forward to interacting with their co-workers. The other companies in the top five large firms were Hubspot and Microsoft.
Surveys of workplace happiness are important. For companies, they indicate the rate of future staff turnover. Unhappy workers are more likely to move on, taking with them the skills they’ve picked up at the company and all of their corporate knowledge. Every replacement has to be trained and brought up to speed, slowing the company’s progress.
And for the employees themselves, happiness should be everything. Sure, salary is important, as is the opportunity to realize your potential; but, if you’re focused on money at work, you’re doing it wrong.
Your job might not be who you are, but it is what you do. It’s how you spend your most productive hours in the day. If you’re working full time, it’s how you’ll spend a third of every day from Monday to Friday. A third of the remaining time will be spent asleep, and much of the time that’s left will go to chores. Those are the hours you spend picking up the kids from school, washing the dishes, paying bills, buying groceries, cleaning the bathroom, and doing all sorts of things that you don’t want to do but have to because that’s just what adults do. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for fun.
If you’re looking to maximize the joy in your life, you’ve only got three choices: you can sleep less, you can do fewer chores, or you can make better use of your working hours.
In practice, you don’t have a choice at all. You need to make better use of your working hours.
Do What You Love
The first thing to do is to make sure that you’re doing work you enjoy… most of the time, because no one loves every part of their job. Police officers have to fill out paperwork. Chefs have to cope with fussy eaters. Teachers have to grade homework. The people who don’t love those jobs don’t do them for long. But the people who do are willing to put up with those dull, tedious tasks because they love everything else about their work. They love helping the community, feeding people with great food, or seeing a child learn and improve.
It’s okay to complain occasionally about the work you do. But if all you’re doing is complaining about what you do, it’s time to look at doing something else. Even if that means investing in education again. Even if it means taking a risk. Even if it means leaving your comfort zone. Life’s too short not to do what you love.
Be With People You Love
The second thing to do is to make sure that you’re surrounded by people you enjoy being with. These two elements are related. If you’re doing what you should be doing, you’ll find that the people you’re doing it with share your interests and your values. You’ll love being with them.
But if you don’t click with the people you’re with, then that’s a good sign that either you’re in the wrong place—or they are.
Employers have the power to create the teams they want. Use that power to build teams that you’re happy to spend time with each day.
Swap the Hustle and Grind for a Hug and a Grin
And finally, don’t overdo it. Work will bring wealth and more work will bring more wealth. But if it also brings less happiness, you’re paying too much for that extra wealth. Most work can wait. Time won’t. Not time with friends. Not time with family. Not time doing the stuff that brings you real value.
Forget about the hustle and grind. Focus on happiness, and make your company a place that brings everyone joy.