Purpose and Motivation at Work – they can make us happier and more satisfied with our job

The Happiness Research Institute has released the Job Satisfaction Index for 2016, and the results might surprise you –  we care more about our purpose than we do about our salary, by a long shot.

The report makes excellent reading, and I’d highly recommend it. But just in case you don’t feel like scrolling through all their research, I’ve boiled it down to the important bits that you can use and take to work with you tomorrow.

As the Job Satisfaction Index relates, the 2015 World Happiness Report found that purpose has the single greatest effect on levels of reported happiness, greater even than living conditions, and as such I have decided to focus this discussion on achieving a sense of purpose at work.

Before we get started, find out if you’re motivated at work:

The more motivated you feel, the more likely you have a greater sense of purpose at work, and so the happier you’ll be. The researchers in the Index found motivation could be reliably determined by a simple line of self-questioning. Ask yourself the following:

1.       Do I feel proud of my job?

2.       Do I experience personal satisfaction from my job?

3.       Do I experience making work-related progress?

4.       Do I experience my job as meaningful?

5.       Do I feel like I develop my competencies?

If you answered “yes” to most of or all those questions, happy days! You are motivated at work and likely feel like your job has a sense of purpose. Go and say thank you to your boss and wallow in the extra joy gratitude brings.

If you answered “no” to most or all of those five questions, you may want to consider a proactive approach to increasing your motivation at work.

In order of importance, this is what contributes to a feeling of job satisfaction:

Purpose – identifying meaning and purpose behind our work, as well as the necessity of our role within the company, increases job satisfaction

Mastery – we must feel competent at work to feel good about our work

Work-life balance – develop a healthy relationship between private and professional life to contribute to job satisfaction.

Leadership – our managers play a huge role in how we feel about the job in hand

Achievements – if we feel like we don’t achieve anything at work, it’s hard to feel like our job is worthwhile

Colleagues – the social relations we develop at work affect our happiness

Influence – we should feel like we influence decision making in our own job – if we get a say in how, when and where our work gets done, we feel good about it

Salary – yes, salary is all the way down here, right at the bottom. We need to be able to eat and live safely, but after that we find it more important to earn more than those around us than we do to earn more overall.

So what can you actually do to increase your sense of purpose and job satisfaction?

·         Ask your boss what the company’s goals are, and how you could be better contributing towards them.

·         Ask your boss for constructive feedback – specifically where your competencies are and where you could work to improve. Strengthening your confidence in your own qualities and competencies helps you become a happier, more motivated worker.

·         Discuss work stress with those higher up the chain – companies that do this have happier, more productive workers

·         Develop your skills, and deepen skills in a specific area. Feeling a sense of mastery has a huge effect on purpose at work.

What should good leaders do to increase their employees’ sense of purpose and motivation?

·         Make the company goals clear and give clear and fast feedback to workers on how they are achieving them.

·         Tell individual employees why their work is important, even on seemingly trivial tasks. If employees know how they are contributing to the company, they feel a real purpose to their work.

·         Donate as a company – money, time or skills! Good publicity is never to be sniffed at, but charitable donation also gives employees a greater sense of upward purpose.

·         Hold meetings where leaders and workers discuss things together. This increases trust in management which helps increase employee satisfaction.

·         Make space for workers to discuss work-life balance with you. If employees feel stressed, overworked, inadequate or frustrated, you should know about it, and you should help find solutions. Companies where this discussion takes place have much happier workers.

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