What people must have to be happy at work

In How to Be Happy at Work, published by Harvard Business Review Press (September 2017), Annie McKee suggests that there are three essential elements people must have in order to be happy at work. They are:

Purpose: As humans, we seek meaning in everything we do. At work, we want to believe that what we do is important, that we are living our values and make a positive impact.

Hope: A hopeful vision of our personal future is critical to happiness at work. We need to see how our efforts tie to a larger mission — something that compels us to give our all. This vision that makes us happy at work must come from our own personal sense of what’s possible for us.

Friends: Contrary to popular belief, we do need friends at work. When we feel that we’re in something together, seeking common goals with people we like and who like us in return, we look forward to going to work. It is a basic human fact: we want to be cared for; we want to care for others; and we want to belong to a group of people we like and respect.

I agree with McKee: “Happiness at work is a choice. When you decide to look within yourself to connect with what’s most important to you, what makes you feel hopeful about the future, what you long for in your relationships, you are taking that first, all important step toward a work life that is deeply satisfying, challenging, and fun. With conviction and practice, you can be happy [begin} and [end] successful — and love your work.”

Of course, as McKee well realizes, there are certain situations in which happiness is unattainable. In that event, it is necessary to locate another situation ASAP. Meanwhile, I presume to suggest that an observation by Eleanor Roosevelt be kept in mind: “No one can make you feel inferior [or unhappy] without your consent.”

Annie McKee is a bestselling business book author and advisor to top global leaders, from CEOs of Fortune 50 companies to government officials South Africa. To learn more about her and her brilliant work, please click here.

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