There are several drivers underpinning work happiness in general, and the level of importance drivers will hold for us individually, will be influenced by what is important to us personally based on our own needs, desires and personality characteristics.

The Indeed Work Happiness Score, launched in March 2020, found the following key 12 drivers of happiness at work:

  1. Belonging
  2. Energy
  3. Appreciation
  4. Purpose
  5. Achievement
  6. Compensation
  7. Support
  8. Learning
  9. Inclusion
  10. Flexibility
  11. Trust
  12. Management

The Indeed research was conducted in the US with over 5,000 responses. 

The results showed a gap between what we would say drives our happiness at work and what the data showed. Both show as important, but if we can have a better understanding of the drivers holistically, then what we might look for at work as employees, and what employers might offer at work, can begin to reflect these real needs rather than being tailored to drivers that, as it turns out, are not enough for us on their own. So for example, we may be happy with our compensation and how much we are appreciated, but there are ten other ways that can improve our happiness and therefore our contribution to work. And perhaps ten other ways that can actively make us unhappy if they are under delivered on.

Looking at the drivers, you might be able to quickly identify the ones that are important to you now. Perhaps they might be different to the ones that used to drive you – and a shift in your drivers in itself will cause some sort of glitch if work doesn’t quite satisfy your new drivers, and no adjustments are made to appeal to them either.

The thing I find really helpful about the drivers, is that they break ‘work happiness’ down into more tangible elements that are much easier to take action on. So looking at the list, if there’s one or two drivers standing out to you that you don’t feel are delivered against at work, can you think of ways to take some small actions to improve it? So for example, if you don’t feel a sense of inclusion, what options do you have to feel more included? Could you join an internal committee, could you share your skills with another team, could you mentor someone more junior etc.

Whether you’re looking to feel happier in your current job, looking for what will make you happier in a new job, or thinking about what you need to focus on when shifting your career entirely, these drivers can help you think through positive priorities and actions to improve your work happiness.

Practical Hack: Work through the 12 drivers and rate each one on a scale of 1-5 (where 1 is low), based on how happy you are with each in your current work situation. Then, rate them on a scale of 1-5 (where 1 is low) on how important they are to you. You might consider prioritising the drivers that have the biggest gap between how happy they make you and how important they are to you, right now.

Client story: My client had been in the same company for years, and she loved the company, but was starting to feel a real sense of panic and frustration about her career and her career future. She was struggling with a boss she didn’t get on with, and a role she was starting to be less and less effective in – not because of her ability, it was driven by a lack of motivation that had been building up over time. Together we worked through what’s important to her, and what her vision for her future is. We then  started to work through ways to close the gap. She became clear and confident on what needed to change, and made an internal move to a department she would thrive in, staying in the company she loved and being free of a difficult work relationship. She knew she would be so much happier about her job day to day, and the direction it could take her in.

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Photo by Lidya Nada on Unsplash.