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Happy At Work: Be the change

istock Happy Employees

We live in a world where job security and a decent income are paramount. Once we have achieved both, we continue to strive for more and before we know it, we find ourselves mid-career wondering 'what now'?

From Baby Boomers through to Millenials, we are all looking for meaning in our daily working lives. Many of us however, become immune to the daily drudgery of our workday experience. It becomes acceptable. Financial responsibilities, moreover, keep us 'committed', 'chained to the wheel'. We come to believe that we are only truly 'living' outside of work, that it is simply a means to an end. But does it have to be? What if we could stay in our organisation and rather than accept the drudgery, we become the change agent for more meaningful work?

Quote: Be the change Ghandi

When exploring meaningful work, Yale professor Amy Wrzesniewski and her colleagues interviewed janitors at a hospital regarding the nature and meaning of their roles. Some of the responses received were expected (its a means to an end, unenjoyable, its a pay check). On the other hand, a group of responses were surprisingly optimistic in nature (enjoyable, satisfying, motivating). A group of the janitors took a different approach and viewed their roles in an extremely positive light, which had subsequent effects on their happiness and well-being, in addition to the happiness and well-being of those around them. This finding supported the previous literature which had suggested a theory around how people view and approach their roles [1] and it suggested that individuals with a 'calling' perspective did something the researchers termed 'job crafting'.

Job crafting involves taking what you are doing and crafting it in such a way that you view it as as socially valuable and intrinsically motivating. IE The janitors with a 'calling' perspective viewed their roles as essential to patient safety and satisfaction, they focused on the true meaning of what they did in relation to the bigger picture. The janitors who approached their role as a 'job', were less intrinsically motivated and resigned to the fact that their job was merely a necessity for making a living. What's more is that those who possessed the 'calling' perspective had better life, health and job satisfaction compared to those possessing a 'job' perspective. [2]

So how do you adjust your mindset and start viewing your job as a calling?

  1. Be grateful. Start off by focusing on the things that you enjoy about your job ~ make a list. Gratitude has many