Article by Inova
The ‘work-life balance’: a concept that is at the heart of our career decisions. Regarding happiness, many assume that work embodies an endurance of stress and misery, and that life represents an opportunity to achieve happiness. However, determining work and life happiness as mutually exclusive is a perspective that has been proven untrue. Numerous scholarship from the fields of psychology, leadership, and neuroscience maintain that happiness at work is entirely possible, and meaningfully contributes to our happiness more broadly.
Therefore, to achieve happiness at work, it is vital to shift our mindset to one that simultaneously searches for and creates situations of happiness at work. How can we do this? The Greater Good (2018) illustrates four key pillars that foster and promote happiness at work: Purpose, Engagement, Resilience, and Kindness (PERK). PERK offers a flexible, integrated framework to help guide our thinking of workplace happiness.
A sense of purpose is defined as making valuable contributions to individuals or wider society that we find personally meaningful. At work, these contributions, when aligned with our core values, bring us feelings of purpose. In doing so, we can assert ourselves in conducting our day-to-day tasks and in turn, connect our roles to what we believe in and care about. To achieve this at work, try and complete tasks in a way that embodies this.
Engagement relates to how involved and immersed we feel at work. The Greater Good (2018) suggests three ways that we could suggest to our employers. Firstly, we should embrace creativity and encourage people to have fun at work! Secondly, we should give people more responsibility over their daily schedule, tasks, and professional development, and in turn giving opportunities to learn and grow. Finally, we should try to adopt a less hectic schedule, and create space for the immersive, lose-track-of-time experience of flow at work. For example, some companies are shifting away from the typical multitasking, always-available, device-notification-laden, meeting-clogged schedule; this also incorporates and encourages downtime to create time that allow people to relax and recover, leaving them refreshed for uninterrupted periods of deep work.
Resilience is the ability to handle, adapt to, and productively learn from setbacks, failures, and disappointments. This doesn’t mean trying to prevent difficulties, hold in stress, or avoid confrontation, instead it is the ability to manage challenges at work quickly, cope with these, and bounce back. To strengthen this in a work context, try practising in the moment awareness or mindfulness. Mindfulness can help to revise our learned habits of self-criticising or blaming others, or getting preoccupied about past or future upsets. Resilience at work is also tied to successfully detaching from work, which involves taking time away to recover and pursue restorative activities, both daily and through restful vacations.
Being kind at work consists of treating people with dignity and respect, extending empathy and compassion, practising gratitude, and constructively managing conflicts. Kindness at work begins with building trust, for example, through sharing resources, feedback, and credit. It is also essential to be a good listener. By orienting our thoughts, feelings, and actions towards the care of others, we can create genuinely supportive social bonds, that further promote effective teamwork and morale. Try to practise “prosocial” behaviours like empathy, compassion, and gratitude. Empathy is the basis for understanding other people, and guides cooperative choices and effective teamwork. Furthermore, although research demonstrates that many believe apologizing to be a sign of weakness. However, in reality, apologising inspires greater respect, trust and commitment to our surrounding employees.
Overall, the PERK principles work both individually and collectively to promote workplace happiness. Therefore, it’s time to apply the PERK principles! Challenge yourself to enjoy, not endure your workplace, and you will be on your way to achieving greater happiness at work!
Greater Good Magazine. (2018). The Four Keys to Happiness at Work. Available: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_four_keys_to_happiness_at_work. Last accessed 18th May 2021.