How to get happy at work

A while back I came across Alexander Kjerulf’s blog (where he calls himself ‘The Chief Happiness Officer) and downloaded his book “Happy Hour is 9-5”. He claims to be the world’s leading expert on happiness at work.

With a lot of work being done in the HR space on employee engagement because we know about the benefits of having engaged employees (i.e. better business results, growth in employee productivity, reduced recruitment costs etc), this book is based on those same premises. Happy employees get more work done, are more creative and create more value. This is then a significant competitive advantage for the organisation.

The book starts with this:

I want you to imagine waking up early on a Monday morning.
Picture yourself as you turn off the alarm clock, and lie in bed for a moment before getting up. Your bed is comfortable and warm and you really want to enjoy that feeling just a little bit longer, but just thinking about the workweek ahead of you is making you smile and get ready to jump out of bed.
You just know it’s going to be a wonderful week. You will get to do great work you can be proud of. You will get to make a difference, as you did last week and every week before that.
You look forward to having fun with your co-workers. You will help them whenever you can, and they will help you whenever you need it.

When you are happy at work you’ll be more motivated, enjoy better relationships, experience greater success, energy, health and more fun.

Feeling a bit cynical? Yeah I was too, but part of me was thinking, wouldn’t that be cool if it were possible?

So what is happiness at work? It’s when you:

● Really enjoy what you do.
● Do great work you can feel proud of.
● Work with amazing people.
● Know that what you do is important.
● Are appreciated for your work.
● Get to take responsibility.
● Have fun at work.
● Learn and grow.
● Make a difference.
● Feel motivated and energized.
● Know that you kick butt.

The Scandinavians even have a word for it- Arbejdsglæde (pronounced ah-bites-gleh-the).

The author then goes onto suggest six everyday actions that create a good mood and make us happy at work.

six actions that make us happy at work

What do you think? I personally think that anything that encourages positivity, openness, and learning is a winner in the workplace.

The book also has lots of great information about motivating and rewarding employees, and how to deal with things that make you unhappy at work, such as work stress, burnout and bullying. I like the fact that it additionally talks about health and wellbeing, and then walks you through an action plan to get happy at work.

Feeling a bit bummed about work at the moment? I recommend you check out – you might get some great ideas for your workplace and spread the happiness around.



Filed under Employee Engagement

4 responses to “How to get happy at work

  1. gradconnection

    Great post Jess,

    Its very interesting that aspects to market a job are usually very different from what makes someone truely happy in their job. We found that the majority of things that contributed to high retention rates at the graduate level were different from what graduates were saying that wanted on our site. For example things such as social clubs, modern buildings, training and development were well behind aspects such as high salary and overseas opportunities.

    That being said, one of the few that graduates said they wanted, and does contribute to happiness is ‘work life balance’.


    • hrclubsyd

      Hi Mike,

      That’s a good point actually. When I go for a job of course I think about the salary, but I’ve also realised (from previous bad experiences) that even if I get the money I want, there may be things in the workplace that make me really unhappy. In one job I was even willing to take a pay cut to leave for a job that had better working conditions.

      I think applicants need to think about how well they think they’ll work with the new manager and/or team, what the culture of the organisation is like, what the expected working hours are (norms), whether flexible work options are available (i.e. working from home, flextime etc), and whether they think they’d be happy to come to work everyday- irrespective of the pay they are getting.


      • gradconnection

        Something I have thought about for a while, but failed to see in practice (yet) is two-way psych testing, so that applicants can see if they are the right fit for a manager/team/position. I am not sure how feasable it is or whether it exists in practice, but I dont think it could be a positive step towards increasing retention overall.

        Do you know of any studies the breaks down what makes people happy in the work force? Does these features differ much based on gender and culture?


      • hrclubsyd

        I agree this is an area that needs work because when you are looking for a job, it should really be a two way interview to ensure a good fit.

        Only thing I have seen in this area in Air NZ’s “Would Air New Zealnd suit me?” Quiz on their website, which gets applicants to consider whether the environment is right for them. I think its a fantastic start and would like to see more.

        Wouldn’t it be cool if you could request your prospective manager’s LSI before you accepted a position?

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