By the Hapkey team

Do leaders grasp the true meaning of happiness at work? If so, why are there so many unhappy employees?

Post by
Elia Mihuta
Do leaders grasp the true meaning of happiness at work? If so, why are there so many unhappy employees?
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One of Gallup's polls revealed that 85% of the worldwide workforce is unhappy with their job. This is an unfortunate statistic as we are promoters of finding a way to make working a pleasant activity. The probability of so many work environments being toxic is, however, hard to believe. So why so many unhappy employees? 

Based on this poll, we wanted to find out what is causing people to feel this way about their jobs even though their employers consider they are providing everything for their staff to be happy. Another reason why we wanted to go deeper with this topic is that the presented data left us quite confused. We know for a fact from Google trends that the term 'happiness at work' is becoming more popular by the day. 

Naturally, this intrigued us. So, we went looking for answers. This is what we discovered. 

In the last few years, leaders have been interested in their team's productivity. Yet, they didn't look too much into their employees' happiness.

Interest over time

All these facts combined made us believe that management sees the need in creating happiness at work. But, they don't really know how to put it into practice.

Our take on the matter is a simple one. Leaders fail to see the difference between social and professional happiness. It's not hard to understand the mistake as people tend to spend more than 50% of their waking hours at work. This means that the way the job makes us feel has an impact on our day-to-day life.

Let's take a moment to look at the science of happiness at work. From this perspective, an employee's well-being is not about amusement. Nor is it about getting everything perfect all the time. It's about having a sense of belonging. Also, it is about getting a feeling of enjoyment from doing a meaningful task, not to mention being appreciated for the effort.

But going back to the topic of unhappiness: what do you think causes so many employees to be unhappy? 

Well, one of the reasons would be boredom. This is a general explanation, yet the ones affected the most by boredom are millennials. The truth is that bored employees are not engaged and don't like what they are doing. Thus, they are unhappy and more inclined to hop from one job to another.

However, the main reason for employees' unhappiness is stress. Over 60% of US employees are stressed about their work. By looking at the research, it gets even more interesting, as the number one cause for their stress level is not because of their financial standing. The principal source of stress is related to their relationships with co-workers, bosses, and workload.

People don't always feel like their colleagues or leaders support them. In these situations, they tend to be over self-critical. The more they criticize themselves, the faster they reach a burnout level. A person struggling with this kind of situation will soon find themselves in a stressful loop that will go on and on. Their state will affect everybody, including the projects that they are working on.

Unfortunately, according to research, leaders are blind to these issues. They don't think too much about the relationships in their teams. As long as it's business as usual, they ignore situations of rudeness or unhealthy competition. Even if these happen right before their eyes. 

They think it's enough that people come to work, receive their paycheck, and don't complain. If these aspects are in line, it is enough for the employees' well-being. And that is why there is so much contradiction between what employers think and what their employees feel.

It’s not typical for a workplace to prioritize happiness.

- Emiliana Simon-Thomas,
Science Director at UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center

All this research aside. Let’s shift the focus to you, the reader. We believe you are progressive. You want to boost productivity and at the same time increase employee happiness. 

We want to give you the following advice. Start measuring happiness at work. Use that data to improve your work environment. Learn from the answers and assist your employees in their needs. Because the information you receive from just 10 seconds of your team members' time is more valuable than you can imagine.

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