Well-being at work is one of the aspects that most affects happiness. What we feel at work affects our relationships and our health. Living it in a positive way not only depends on external conditions, but also on something key that is in our hands getting involved.
Sometimes we tend to think that “our life” is what happens outside of working hours when we are at home, with our friends or on vacation. In fact, many people consider work a necessary evil, the price to survive and enjoy life in free hours. However, research in the field of psychology indicates that the job is not so bad; on the contrary, it helps our well-being.
Psychologists, economists and other specialists have joined forces to scientifically study the well-being of people in different parts of the world and discover if there are common elements that go beyond the place and the culture. With this objective, the Gallup polling company collected between 2005 and 2009 data in 150 countries, with a representative sample of 98% of the world population.
This research revealed that well-being has five distinct aspects or facets well-being at work, social well-being, physical, financial, and community well-being. And of these five factors, it turns out that occupational well-being is the one that has the greatest impact on people’s general well-being.
BENEFITS OF WORKING (IN WHAT WE LIKE)
One of the fundamental questions to know if someone is happy is: “Do you like what you do every day?” People who answer with a resounding yes, who say they experience high levels of job satisfaction, are twice as likely to feel really happy and to “flourish” than those who are not doing well at work. Unfortunately, only one in five people answer a resounding yes to this question.
If someone does not like their work, then it is important that they have other activities in life that they are passionate about, even if they are not paid.
Our work defines, to a large extent, our identity, since it is what we dedicate more hours to every day. When we meet someone, one of the first questions we ask is what he does or what does he work for.
Losing out of work is one of the most stressful events we can face. In fact, a well-known research, published by the London School of Economics and carried out with a very large population sample over several decades, compared the effects of different stressful events in people’s lives, such as getting married, divorcing, losing employment, the birth of a child or the death of the spouse. The authors observed that prolonged unemployment – that is, more than a year without work despite seeking it – is the only fact from which people do not recover in five years. And this is especially true for men.
WORK WELL-BEING MAKES US HAPPY
To be well at work, it is essential to be actively involved in what we do: pay attention, concentration, interest and energy at work. A study by Gallup scientists Arthur Stone and Jim Harter compared a group of highly engaged employees with others who weren’t.
Their moods, their activities, as well as their heart rate and levels of cortisol – the stress hormone – were monitored during the hours they were at work. The results showed that those who were actively involved in their tasks were more content and interested, while those who were not involved experienced higher stress levels and were only in a good mood as departure time approached, as if they were simply waiting for them. To end the day.
And a particularly curious finding was that the happiness levels of the workers involved were practically the same throughout the week: although they suffered somewhat more stress on weekdays than on holidays or weekends, they enjoyed almost every day. Equally.
The non-involved workers, on the other hand, were only happy on weekends and had much higher stress levels when they returned to work. High levels of cortisol in the blood, which accompany stress, can do very real damage to our body: it has been proven that the incidence of heart attacks is higher on Mondays.
THE BOSS INFLUENCES THE RISK OF SUFFERING FROM ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
Being little engaged at work doubles the risk of developing depression in one year. The good news is that if a worker with little commitment becomes more actively involved in what he does, his physical health tends to improve. For example, your blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels drop. So an important lesson is that feeling good at work must be a priority if we are to have good health long term.
Our bosses or superiors play a very important role in the job well-being of each one. When it has been studied how we feel when we are surrounded by other people – friends, relatives, co-workers, children – it has been found that the company of bosses is the one that is least enjoyed. For many, spending time with the boss is the worst time of day – worse, for example, than the time spent doing housework.
Employees who view their superiors or managers as incompetent are at higher risk for heart problems.
And it has also been observed that the worst thing that can happen to us at work is having a boss who does not pay attention to us. If our superior ignores us, the probability that we are not very interested in what we do is 40%.
On the contrary, if the boss is interested in us and tries to enhance our personal strengths, to favor what we do best, the probability that we do not get involved in our tasks is only 1%. However, the truth is that most of the time we cannot choose our superiors. I wish all bosses learned to enhance the strengths of their collaborators, as this would have a very positive impact on the work environment and on increased productivity.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO IMPROVE OUR JOB WELL-BEING?
Those who enjoy their work the most say they have fun doing it. One of the keys to achieving this is being able to apply our personal strengths to it. People who do are six times more likely to be involved in work and three times more likely to have an excellent quality of life than those who cannot use their strengths on a daily basis.
In addition, those who apply them in their work tasks tire less and suffer less wear and tear than those who do not.
The fact that they are involved in their tasks does not mean that they are “addicted to work”, but on the contrary, research also shows that people with high levels of well-being at work take more time to enjoy leisure and have better relationships personal with others.
To improve our work well-being, Tom Rath and Jim Harter, Gallup researchers and experts on the subject, recommend the following: identify our personal strengths and use them every day at work.
You will recognize someone who shares our purposes and encourages us to grow, and spend more time with that person. Find spaces for coexistence with those teams and people whose company we enjoy at work.