Tech employers HubSpot, Netflix and Google topped the list of the world’s happiest workforces in a recent rankings list released by culture monitoring site Comparably.
Why all the interest, though, in rating employee happiness at work?
According to the Harvard Business Review, scholars and executives are increasingly obsessed with increasing their employees’ productivity. In particular, happiness as a way to boost productivity has gained increased traction in corporate circles.
Firms spend money on happiness coaches, team-building exercises, gameplays, funsultants, and Chief Happiness Officers (you’ll find one of those at Google). These activities and titles may appear somewhat frivolous, but companies are taking them extremely seriously.
But what if workers feel trapped in a less than fulfilling job?
In Forbes magazine, Srikumar Rao, the author of Happiness at Work, suggests 10 steps that employees can use to increase their happiness at work.
1. Avoid "good" and "bad" labels
When something bad happens, don't beat yourself up, says Rao. Instead, when you make an error, be aware of it without passing judgment. "Do what you have to do, but don't surrender your calmness and sense of peace."
2. Practice "extreme resilience"
Rao defines "extreme resilience" as the ability to recover fast from adversity. "You spend much time in needless, fruitless self-recrimination and blaming others," he writes. "You go on pointless guilt trips and make excuses that you know are fatuous. If you're resilient, you recover and go on to do great things." (He also says that if you fully take his advice to avoid "bad thing" labels, you don't have to practice resilience at all.)
3. Let go of grudges
Rao says that a key to being happy at work is to let go of grudges. "Consciously drop the past," he writes. "It's hard, but with practice you will get the hang of it."
4. Don't waste time being jealous
"When you're jealous you're saying that the universe is limited and there's not enough success in it for me," says Rao. "Instead, be happy, because whatever happened to him will happen to you in your current job or at another company.
5. Find passion in you, not in your job
Sure, you can fantasise about a dream job that pays you well and allows you to do some kind of social good, work with brilliant and likeable colleagues and still be home in time for dinner. But Rao warns against searching for that perfect position, or even believing that it exists. Instead, he advocates changing how you think about your current situation. For example, instead of thinking of yourself as a human resources manager at a bank, identify yourself as someone who helps other bank employees provide for their families, take advantage of their benefits and save for the future.
6. Picture yourself 10 years ago and 10 years from now
"Most problems that kept you awake ten years ago have disappeared," says Rao. "Much of what troubles you today will also vanish. Realising this truth will help you gain perspective."
7. Banish the "if/then" model of happiness
Rao says that many of us rely on a flawed "if/then" model for happiness. If we become CEO, then we'll be happy. If we make a six-figure salary, then we'll be happy. "There is nothing that you have to get, do or be in order to be happy," he writes.
8. Invest in the process, not the outcome
"Outcomes are totally beyond your control," Rao writes. You'll set yourself up for disappointment if you focus too much on what you hope to achieve rather than how you plan to get there.
9. Think about other people
Even in corporate America, where so much of work is every man for him or herself, Rao advocates inhabiting an "other-centred universe." If the nice guy gets passed over for a promotion, he may still succeed in less tangible ways. "He may rise later in the shootout," Rao says. "I'm challenging the assumption that you need to be a dog-eat-dog person to survive in a corporate environment.
10. Swap multitasking for mindfulness
Rao thinks that multitasking gets in the way of happiness. "Multitasking simply means that you do many things badly and take much more time at it," he writes. He recommends instead working on tasks for 20-minute intervals that you gradually increase to two-hour spans. Turn off any electronic gadgets that can be a distraction. He claims that with practice, you'll be able to accomplish much more and with less effort.