Finding Happiness at Work

Finding Happiness at Work

By Haselhoff (Netherlands)

Just recently, March 20th, it was International Day of Happiness. Recent years have shown increased attention for happiness at work. But what exactly is happiness at work? The most commonly used definition for this is from Alex Kjerulf (author of the book “Happy hour is 9 – 5”). He says that happiness at work is “the feeling of happiness you get from your work.”

It is important to distinguish between job happiness and job satisfaction. Job happiness gives energy and is, for example, about having good relationships with colleagues. But also about achieving results, being good at something and being able to develop oneself. Work satisfaction, on the other hand, comes from salary, bonus, a good workplace. The emotions that arise from this are of a more short-term nature.

Why is happiness actually important? Among other things, it appears that happy people perform better, are more involved in the organization, cooperate better, are more innovative and resilient and are more resistant to stress and change.
According to the PERK model of the University of Berkeley, work happiness consists of 4 components:

  • Purpose
  • Commitment
  • Resilience
  • Kindness

A short explanation per component:
Purpose: This is about ensuring that your daily work matches your most important personal values. It is, therefore, the reflection of our core values. We feel more at home if we can focus on the things we value and believe in our work.

Commitment: this is about the emotional involvement you feel in your work. Do you really enjoy your work and do you enjoy doing it? Three elements are distinguished: pleasure (a nice contact with your colleagues), autonomy (what range do you have to make your own decisions) and, thirdly, the possibility of being absorbed in your work. Do you get into the so-called “flow” when you are working and does it make you forget time?

Resilience: this is about how you deal with setbacks. Do you learn from it and adapt to the new circumstances? It is not about avoiding setbacks, but about how you deal with it. It also has to do with releasing and letting go of your work. Are you able to distance yourself from your work and undertake other activities, for example with friends or family, without thinking about your work?

Kindness: this is about friendliness among colleagues. How do you deal with your colleagues? Do you do this in a respectful way, do you have a relationship with colleagues, do you listen to each other? etc.

How do you include all of this in your recruitment and selection process?
In the recruitment and selection process, it is good to keep the PERK model in combination with happiness at work in your mind. This shows that people can be happy in very different work environments. If you look closely, you will see that many points are not about the organization or the position, but rather about the things that a candidate is able to influence. In addition, it is good to look at what he or she finds important in the conversation with the potential candidate. Then it must be checked whether there is a match with the values and vision of the organization. By including these factors in the recruitment and selection process you can prevent a mismatch on important aspects and ensure a long-term connection between the candidate and the new organization.