Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Yes, You Can Be Happy at Work

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Yes, You Can Be Happy at Work

Article excerpt

On a recent tour of several well-known American corporations, one thing became painfully obvious to me: The concept of happiness at work is alien to most American workplaces.

It doesn't have to be that way.

"You get paid to do your job, not to like it," seems to be the attitude of most US managers and workplaces. What's worse, American employees seem to be willing participants in this arrangement. When I ask Americans what makes them happy at work, they rarely talk about the work itself - many tend to see it as a means to an end, rather than as something to enjoy.

The result is that US workplaces are dominated by status-seeking career climbers, where the paycheck is the only motivator, where employee turnover is shockingly high, where bad management is never challenged, where burnout and cynicism are the order of the day, and only Dilbert comic strips provide relief.

This unhappiness at work is causing serious harm. You spend more time at work than with your family, friends, and hobbies combined. Hating your job is not an inconvenience, it's a serious problem. It can cause stress and depression. Ultimately, it can kill you.

And yet, a job can be a tremendous source of happiness. It can give you success, victories, and professional and personal growth. It can let you contribute to something important. It can be a source of positive, meaningful relationships with both managers and co- workers. It can, in fact, be a lot of fun!

If companies took a few simple steps, fun, fulfilling jobs could be the norm in America. Where I live, it already is.

In Denmark, employees fully expect to like their jobs. Few Danes put up with bad management, stress, overwork, bullying, or anything else that makes us unhappy at work. What's more, in Scandinavia in general, companies have a genuine commitment to their employees' well-being.

This is why Scandinavians have the world's highest job satisfaction ratings - and one of the reasons why the Scandinavian nations regularly top the lists of the world's happiest countries, both in life and at work. This also helps explain the Nordic Miracle - the economic success of the Scandinavian economy and flagship Nordic businesses such as Carlsberg, IKEA, LEGO, Maersk, and NOKIA. …

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