What is the difference between happy and unhappy employees?

November 6, 2022
Posted in Questions
November 6, 2022 Terkel

What is the difference between happy and unhappy employees?

If you’re like most managers, you’re probably wondering what makes an employee happy. After all, isn’t that what we’re supposed to aim for? The short answer is yes, but it’s not easy to achieve.

Happiness is a complex state of mind that can be affected by a variety of factors, both internal and external. In this article, we’ll explore what people who enjoy their work are doing that people who dislike their work aren’t doing. From setting proper work/life boundaries to actually working more hours, there are several signs that indicate your employees are happy and thriving in their roles.

Here are 18 things happy employees are doing that people who dislike their work are not doing:

  • Set Healthy Work/Life Boundaries
  • Believe in Yourself
  • Learning and Growing With Challenges
  • Have a Grateful Attitude
  • Influencing Others
  • Know Your Value
  • It’s All About Purpose
  • Remember to Be Grateful
  • Lean into Strengths and Preferences
  • Align Values With Your Work Purpose
  • Have Other Interests Outside of Work
  • Keep Up to Date With Industry News
  • Use Your Job to Improve Career Development
  • Work to Your Greatest Potential and Give Maximum Effort
  • Communicate With the People in the Office
  • Passionate People Pursue Challenging and Meaningful Work
  • Refuse to Cave to the Institutional Machine.
  • People Who Enjoy Work Tend to Work Long Hours

Set Healthy Work/Life Boundaries

Life and work need proper divisions. When they begin crossing into each other, the likelihood of bringing stress from one space into the other becomes much greater. Set some solid boundaries for your work/home life and don’t let them cross unless it’s absolutely necessary. This means putting your foot down and putting yourself first. If your boss suddenly asks you if you need to work extra hours unannounced you shouldn’t feel bad saying no if you can’t afford to do so.

Your home life isn’t just ‘nothing’ time that you can easily give up to work. It’s your time to take care of your home, yourself, and your family. This also means doing your best not to bring your home problems to work. You want your full focus on performing your duties and home stresses will only distract you. Keep a healthy division between home and work life, it will help you appreciate both your worlds and stave off the potential burnout.

Max Schwartzapfel, CMO, Schwartzapfel Lawyers

Believe in Yourself

A lot of it comes down to outlook. If you set out each day with the point of view that you are going to do your best and make something good out of your time, chances are you will enjoy your work. If you are prone to negative thinking, you are more likely to find things to dislike about your work. It really helps if you can hold on to the belief that as human beings, we are all capable of doing good in the world. It’s almost a matter of faith, though not necessarily of the religious variety. More than anything, you have to believe in yourself and your ability to do good; then you will enjoy your work.

Marcus Hutsen, Business Development Manager, Patriot Coolers

Learning and Growing With Challenges

Challenging themselves. At some point in your job, you may reach a point where you’ve done all you can do. If this happens, you’re going to start feeling bored, unmotivated and dissatisfied. When this happens, it’s important that you reinvigorate yourself in your job. Meet with your manager and ask if there are new or different responsibilities you can take on. Seek a promotion if and when the opportunity arises. Enjoying your job is dependent on your learning and growing within it.

Eric Elggren, Co-Founder, Andar

Have a Grateful Attitude

People who enjoy their work have a grateful attitude. They often focus on what is good about their jobs. They know that having a negative attitude will only cause them to be unmotivated and disgruntled. Who wants to work with somebody with a negative attitude? No job is perfect and we don’t always have control over our jobs — but we do have control over our attitude and how we show up.

Scott Baker, Founder and CEO, Stage 3 Leadership

Become a Natural Influencer to Others

A person who enjoys their work naturally exudes interest, enthusiasm, and positive energy. This is not only beneficial for their performance and productivity, but it also affects their team. When others witness a co-worker embodying joy at work, it impacts their perception of the job and can often frame it in a better or different light.

This will also mitigate other employees’ negative feelings (if they exist) about the role and create a more positive work environment, an environment that is conducive to improving job satisfaction.

On the contrary, employees who dislike, are indifferent or even hate their work tend to do the exact opposite. They create a toxic work environment that becomes hyper-focused on the negative aspects of the role. This, in turn, creates an inhospitable workplace, decreases job satisfaction, and reduces retention for their team.

Dan Reed, Career Coach and HR Consultant, Top Prospect Careers

Know Your Value

Short term? My best advice for career shifters is to deal with this transition by taking a mental break first…then internalize, realize, and visualize. Try to identify your relevance in terms of value to a prospective employer, internalize on what your passions are and some transferable skills and accomplishments to relay to hiring managers, a solid resume and some email communication templates (or cover letter), and a lot of patience and willpower.

A good rule of thumb for the job hunter seeking a new role in a new industry is to identify your transferable skills and portray those first on your LinkedIn profile and resume. Reverse engineer your career path from your ideal job’s description and see what you have and what needs up-skilling.

Think the long game. Have a vision of your dream job. Think of your job drivers. What’s important to you? Time, money, benefits, etc. Each is different for each person. What motivates you? What’s your passion?

Matthew Warzel, President, MJW Careers LLC

It’s All About Purpose

I’m surprised this isn’t taught in school, but it seems that most of us have to learn it the hard way. The only way to get true joy and deep satisfaction out of your work is to do something you care about – that is, to have Purpose. Far too many people, however, spend their time earning a paycheck at a company they don’t care about. That can be fine in the short term, but the dissatisfaction that it breeds long term is inescapable.

I spent almost seven years at a company that I didn’t really care about. The mission of the business was an objectively positive one, but it wasn’t one that resonated with me. I fell into a depression, my relationship suffered, and I went to work every day feeling completely lost. It took finding a job with a purpose that I resonated with to make me see how low I’d been. I then made myself a promise that I’d never again do a job without a purpose to drive me. That’s worked out beautifully so far.

Ken Fichtler, CEO, Gaize

Remember to Be Grateful

Routinely showing gratitude. Doing so breeds joy in the workplace and beyond. An easy way to make gratitude part of your daily routine is to journal. It can be a profound experience to write down all of the things you’re thankful for, especially if you’re not in the habit of doing so.

Journaling has been proven to evoke positivity and expressing your appreciation for others is a natural result. In business, demonstrating gratitude for clients, coworkers and more builds a warm, friendly culture but it often takes practice.

Michael Van, CEO, Furnishr

Lean into Strengths and Preferences

Many people who enjoy what they do invest time in analyzing their strengths and preferences. For example, as a team manager, someone might discover that their favorite task is interviewing and hiring – leaning into this, they might discover a better-suited career path in recruiting.

Especially at the beginning of your career, you want to pay attention to how you feel while completing tasks and make decisions based on your discoveries.

Breanne Millette, CEO, BISOULOVELY

Align Values With Your Work Purpose

Most tend to focus on all the things that are going wrong, how they hate the tasks, the people, and the location.  If you can start to focus on the values that are important, the kind of people you’d like to be around, and style of place you’d like to work in things change – it becomes part of your purpose.  That’s where the recipe for the secret sauce of workplace happiness lies.  The ingredients are focused on what you enjoy and if you can see where those are fulfilled in your day job then it makes things not just tolerable but a place to thrive.  If you realize they aren’t aligned, then its time to move on.

Teany Hidalgo, Burnout and Purpose Coach, Burnout to Zen CEO

Have Other Interests Outside of Work

People who enjoy their work find meaning in it, but also do not let it define them. Work is a means to an end and does not encompass one’s entire life. People who enjoy their work most likely have other interests: volunteer roles, hobbies and time with family as examples.  While it may seem contradictory at first glance, the old adage that one should work to live and not live to work truly encompasses the attitude of those who enjoy their jobs.

Melanie Peacock, Owner, Double M Training and Consulting

Melanie Peacock happy employees

Keep Up to Date With Industry News

When you love your work, you will keep up to date with everything in your industry. Sometimes you will use your free time to further expand your knowledge by reading articles and just about any information you can find on the topic. When I’m on vacation, I read books related to my business. It’s a neverending story of constant growth that puts you on top of everything and ahead of your competition. When you love your work, you don’t need to get away from it, you use the free time to further evolve your knowledge and deepen your expertise.

Ana Malovrh, CEO and founder, Choose Your Signature Style

Use Your Job to Improve Career Development

One of my favorite quotes from Paulo Cohelo: Your heart will only be happy when you pursue your dreams. Just the fact that you are working for your goals is more enriching and fulfilling that the goal itself.

There are people (including me) who want to be successful in the future, and in order to achieve this it’s important that our career is on track. Improving skills and engaging actively with our industry now can help set up a great foundation for success later down the line!

Plus learning new things will make sure we’re always ready when opportunities come knocking at our doorsteps. finally, I want everyone to read the alchemist by Paulo Cohelo, it’s a silly and simple book but It can work for people who want to enjoy what they do.

Connor Ondriska, Co-founder and CEO, SpanishVIP

Work to Your Greatest Potential and Give Maximum Effort 

You can tell when people enjoy their work. They bring their best energy to work, they have a positive mindset, they invest more effort, and work to grow roots. The people who enjoy their work are putting their hearts into it and working to their greatest potential.

People that don’t enjoy their work give the minimum required, seem detached and generally have negative or no thoughts about their work. Given that they don’t enjoy it, they won’t give as much of themselves to their work. Finally, people that enjoy their work live with a different level of gratitude than those who do not.

Nick Oberheiden, Founder and Attorney, Oberheiden P.C.

Communicat With the People in the Office

People who enjoy working like to communicate more with their colleagues and increase their network. On the other hand, people who dislike their jobs don’t want to communicate if not so necessary. They have hidden feelings about not getting noticed because they want to leave the job and don’t want colleagues to poke them later for the decision. Therefore stay introverted while working.

While people who enjoy working take communication and networking as vital for growth in their careers. It helps them to find better opportunities in the same or different field. Moreover, they know communicating with colleagues creates a good atmosphere that is helpful in doing their work even better.

People have different plans in their lives, so they react accordingly. They know what can and what can not work for them. Some see communication as a ladder to move ahead, while some don’t communicate because they don’t want to go that way. I found in my office who don’t like their jobs communicate less.

Yogesh Kumar, Digital Marketing Manager, Technource

Pursue Challenging and Meaningful Work

The number one most consistent truth among people I’ve met that are passionate about and enjoy their work is that they pursue challenging and personally meaningful work.

This isn’t to say that their work is always easy or that they don’t have moments of incompetence, but at a macro level, they are way more satisfied with their work.

It’s possible to be really good at something and make a ton of money, but dislike the work because it doesn’t mean anything to you or leaves you watching the clock out of boredom each day.

Similarly, people who haven’t done the deep work required to really know what they want out of their work and lives will always be underwhelmed. The key is to always have something you’re striving for and knowing exactly why you’ve set your sights on that north star.

Ken Marshall, Chief Growth Officer, RevenueZen

Refuse to Cave to the Institutional Machine

Society is full of unwritten rules that govern the sheeple. These rules cripple career growth, stomp out ambition, and make executives a cog in the wheel of a mechanism they don’t understand. These people keep their heads down so as not to disrupt their superiors in hopes that their submission and willingness to go along to get along allows for career growth. These people will always be unhappy as they exist in a space in which they have no influence. Free thinkers that lead from the front lines and the trenches are always happier and more productive. Their refusal to submit to the rules of the mob will always gain followers who are seeking leadership with big ideas and a clear trajectory to achieve their goals.

James Scott, Founder, Embassy Row Project

People Who Enjoy Work Tend to Work Long Hours

People who enjoy their work tend to work long hours. They often enjoy it so much they prefer working to doing just anything else in their life. They would much rather be working than doing many things that other people prefer to do than work. Which is great in many ways because it means they are doing what they like doing with their time instead of doing what many people do – where they simply put up with boring things and waste their time instead. It also means that they are doing things that are fulfilling financially too.

If I have a choice of doing tarot and psychic readings for appreciative, pleasant, nice clients who have been to me before and understand that they pay for my skills and time that is far better than spending a boring evening with a neighbor, acquaintance, or family member. The downside to enjoying your work a lot is that you may be tempted to work for free or very cheap and allow others to take advantage of you.

Rosemary Price, Psychic Medium and Tarot Reader, Rosemary Price Psychic

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