How happy are you at work?

I recently completed a course on work well-being. As many of us spend a huge chunk of our day in a work environment, it’s interesting to learn more about the different factors that affect our work well-being.

what does work do for us?

So, what does work actually do for us – apart from providing an income, does it have any other benefits? To some extent this will depend on your interest in and enjoyment of your job; it’s harder to look for the positives if you feel like you’re stuck in a role that you’re not enjoying.

There are, however, some broad areas that being involved in a working environment can enhance. At a basic level, work might give us a sense of purpose, a routine and a reason to get out of bed! Luckily, there’s a little more to the potential benefits of working – some of these are:

  • Giving us an opportunity to meet new people and a sense of connection.
  • Providing us with a sense of achievement and pride.
  • Allowing us to use our skills and talents in different ways.  

Some of the external and internal influences that impact our experience of work are discussed below.

external influences

The work environment has changed over the last few decades; in many professions an increase in competition for jobs, restructuring of organisations and time-limited contracts have decreased job security and increased working hours.

This, along with issues such as heavy workload, management style and competing pressures from home/personal lives have impacted on work-wellbeing.  The lack of a work-life balance increases strain on personal relationships and family, as well as reducing productivity at work.

internal influences

Our emotions and moods are an important influence on job performance and satisfaction. This view suggests that our personality affects our understanding of, and reaction to, incidents that happen at work. The five-factor model of personality is a useful way of considering the differences in our personality traits:

  1. Openness to experience – willingness to try new things and listen to ideas which challenge our beliefs.
  2. Conscientiousness – awareness of actions and the impact of our behaviour; level of personal ambition and motivation to meet goals.
  3. Extroversion how outgoing, talkative and confident we are in social situations.
  4. Agreeableness – how friendly, co-operative and amiable we are. This can impact on our colleagues’ opinions of us.
  5. Neuroticism – where we fit on the scale of emotional stability to emotional instability. This may include aspects such as worry and anxiety which will impact on how we deal with stressful situations.

why is work well-being important?

A focus on work well-being is good for the employer and the employee. Promoting it can help prevent stress and contribute to an improved positive working environment, so companies and employees thrive. Good health and well-being are a key factor in employee engagement and company performance.

Poor employee well-being contributes to increased absences as individuals take more time off due to stress-related issues. We’re also more likely to vote with our feet and actively look for an alternative workplace where we feel happier and more valued.

Investing in work-wellbeing would benefit us all. Enhancing employee morale and engagement would likely increase retention and reduce absences. As individuals, we would benefit from a more positive working environment, less stress and, perhaps, an increased sense of job satisfaction.

tips to increase your work well-being

  • Be more aware of how you use your time. Are there any areas you can scale down, yet still work as effectively?
  • Avoid negative gossip, unnecessary judgements and colleagues who drag you/your workplace down.
  • Acknowledge when you do things well but also accept your mistakes – ask for feedback.  
  • Make a connection with your colleagues – offer help and ask for it when you need it.
  • Get up and move. Screen breaks, a quick walk, coffee – take the opportunity to refresh your brain.

After looking at the external and internal influences that impact on work well-being, can you see aspects you would apply to yourself? What do you enjoy about work and what do you feel are your main stressors?

A final point to consider is how you would rate the atmosphere at your workplace – are your colleagues generally engaged and satisfied with their roles; is a work-life balance encouraged? It’d be interesting to find out if your workplace has policies in place to promote employee well-being and how successful these are…   

Thanks for reading!

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