Increasingly, recent college grads are looking for a blended work-lifestyle where their work lives are flexible and overlap with their personal lives. The rise of “campus” environments made popular by the likes of Google and Facebook reinforces this idea by encouraging employees to spend more time at “work”, whether they’re eating in the cafeteria, relaxing on the lawn, or working out at the company gym. Their employees are able to relieve stress in nap-pods, company sponsored yoga classes, and massages. However, if you’re not working at one of these cutting-edge organizations, stuck in the 2nd month of your summer internship, or first job out of college, this idyllic environment can seem light years away.
A recent Human Resources study found that over a third of employees would be willing to give up $5,000 per year of their salary in order to be happier at work. $5,000! Before you start giving up your hard earned dollars in an effort to find more joy in your work, start with these 5 hacks to help make your work day a little bit happier (even if Mark Zuckerberg isn’t your boss):
Begin With the End in Mind
We all want to feel as though we’re working towards something rather than going in circles. Having a clear path and measurable progress towards your goals will make going to work every day seem like a step in the right direction. Ideally, your manager will take on the responsibility of mapping out your career trajectory within the company. Not the case? Create a career plan for yourself by identifying the ideal role you’re striving for, the key skills required to get there, and how you can continue developing them in your current position. If you have a mentor, have them help by providing input on the next steps you can take in working towards your goals.
Find a Work Best Friend
Feeling a sense of belonging with your colleagues plays a big part in your happiness at work. In fact, many cite having a best friend at work as one of the key reasons that they stay at their jobs. The Wall Street Journal reports that close work friendships increase employee satisfaction by a whopping 50%! If your office is lacking camaraderie, take the initiative to invite co-workers out to lunch or plan a happy hour event. Chances are, there are others in your office who are looking to make deeper connections with their co-workers and will jump at the opportunity to create those relationships.
Tap Into Your Purpose
It is incredibly important to find meaning in the work that you do. Do you help clients achieve their goals? Make sure events go off without a hitch? Create time-saving processes? Step back and take a look at the bigger picture any time you get frustrated or are feeling lost. The impact that you make on others’ lives is large, no matter the role. Keep a success story, photo of your favorite client, or kind email nearby to remind yourself of that when you’re having a particularly challenging day.
It seems simple, but the ability to “unplug” plays a huge role in employee happiness. I am a big proponent of taking a full lunch break to decompress and re-charge for the afternoon. This also allows you to focus your energy on something outside of work for a few minutes. It can be discouraging to feel that all of your energy is sucked into your job so take a walk to brainstorm ideas for your weekend or have a conversation with a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. When you take a few minutes out of the day to relax, you’ll find that the challenges you’re facing are often smaller and you are able to think more critically to solve them.
Dress Up Your Space
While it sounds trivial in comparison, working in an appealing office environment can have a major effect on your happiness at work over time. Natural light, attractive furnishings, and personal items all lend themselves to a happier and more productive office. However, you may not have the ability to impact the larger office as a whole so decorate your space to make it as attractive as possible. Inspiring quotes, photos, plants, and even a notebook that you love can help make your days more enjoyable.
The mid-summer doldrums can have an effect on your performance at work, relationships at home, and general outlook on life. Don’t let them get the best of you! Though there may be some things out of your control, take these steps to improve your mood at work and find more joy in your career. You might even find some of the ideas rub off on your colleagues and help improve the culture at your company as a whole.
Brette Rowley is a career contributor for The Young Hopeful and a Career Coach in Charleston, South Carolina. She can most often be found speaking to groups of young professionals or working with them one-on-one to build meaningful careers and land jobs they love. However, in her spare time she loves traveling, taking her dog Mellie to the beach, and tailgating for Clemson football games (or any sporting event, really). Connect with Brette on her site, Instagram, and Twitter!