Happiness at Work

Posted by: Matt Nagler, Managing Partner
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Matt Nagler

We spend more of our waking hours at our jobs than doing any one other thing. So being happy at work matters – a lot. And what makes us happy at work is in our control.

The results of a recent CareerBliss survey of ‘happiest’ jobs may surprise you. Database administrator, quality assurance engineer, insurance underwriter, executive assistant and, lucky for me, executive recruiter, all made the top 5. What these jobs have in common is important and can teach all of us that finding happiness at work is in our control.

Redefine Your Job:

All of these jobs are people-oriented. The results of the work are focused on real individuals, as are many of the daily tasks. So take a minute to redefine your job to remind yourself how much your work really matters to other people. If you’re an HR manager, for instance, you may find yourself bogged down in day-to-day minutiae and other people’s complaints. But what if you remembered that what you do helps other people lead better lives – that you make sure that people can provide for their families, that your job brings a sense of ease to someone else’s life every single day?


Another thing these jobs have in common are they require people to put together puzzles. It’s impossible to be creative and problem solve unless you have focus. With all the demands of a job, we tend to think that multi-tasking is the answer; after all, it’s not that hard to answer a quick email while you’re on the phone. Except that it is. Multitasking makes us not only less efficient, but you guessed it, less happy. By immersing yourself in one task at time, you can create a space where you can draw on all your resources to approach the work you’re doing, which often results in getting it done better and more quickly. By creating what psychologists call ‘flow” or being completely absorbed in what you’re doing, you greatly increase your happiness at work.

Keep Learning

All of the top five jobs are dynamic and require not only learning new skills, but staying on top of information in and around your industry. So keep learning! Learning, whether it’s in a classroom seminar or doing your own research, will help you look at the things you do in your day-to-day work life differently. You’ll not only be able to solve problems better but create new opportunities for yourself. And, most importantly, a lifetime of learning is a sure way to stop the feeling of stagnation that creates a lot of workplace unhappiness.

In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

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