The Path to More Happiness at Work

Many of us find it easy to answer the question, “Do you love what you do?”. However, when we break our roles down day-by-day into specific tasks, we most likely have a difficult time evaluating what exactly about our jobs we enjoy most.

Despite repeated studies showing that employee engagement can directly impact a company’s bottom line, engagement in the workplace has remained stagnant over the last 10 years. Only 27% of Canadians report being highly engaged at work. Factors such as professional relationships, career trajectory, autonomy, and recognition all factor into employee engagement. Since we spend a large portion of our waking hours at the office, job satisfaction naturally influences our happiness and wellbeing.

When looking broadly at professionals who love their jobs, there is one commonality – they helped define their role. Job satisfaction isn’t tied to a drastic shift to the work environment. A 2017 study found that physicians who spent 20% of their time doing work they identified as meaningful were at a significantly lower risk of burning out. Even more interesting, anything beyond that 20% had a marginal benefit.

While crafting the ideal role isn’t a simple task, creating more happiness in the workday can be relatively easy. Evaluate what drives you by keeping a list of tasks you “Love” and “Hate”. Not only does expressing personal experiences through writing have the ability to improve mood, it can also provide a deeper understanding of what fuels your creativity and energy levels throughout the day. When you accomplish a task, take a moment to be mindful and make note of how it makes you feel. When given the opportunity, volunteer to do more of the tasks you love.

In the word of James Pennebaker, a University of Texas psychology professor and pioneer in the field of research for expressive writing, “The idea here is getting people to come to terms with who they are, where they want to go. I think of expressive writing as a life course correction.”

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