How to be happy in your career: 9 tips that don’t involve money

By Robert Half on 2 February 2024

Is happiness more important than money? Yes it is, according to 75% of 18-35 year old Singaporean workers surveyed by Y&R of Generation Asia.

To top this off, Robert Half’s The Secrets of the Happiest Companies and Employees found that employees are generally happy, scoring 70 on a happiness scale of 0-100. This is great news, as being happy at work can have a positive impact on your health and relationships. It can empower you to become more creative, innovative and engaged. A survey by Gallup also found that engaged employees are 21% more productive than their non-engaged counterparts. With all this positivity, it’s no wonder why happiness has become increasingly important in today’s modern workforce. 

In this blog, we take a look at how to be happy in your career without money being the classic motivation tool. With just a few straightforward steps, you’ll realise how simple and prevalent job satisfaction is to your working life.

How to be happy in 9 simple steps

1. Understand why you’re unhappy

Before you can figure out how to be happy, take some time to understand what is causing your unhappiness in your career and consider ways to address these concerns. Are your technical skills and experience not being utilised? Are you not being challenged? Or are you perhaps struggling with the commute and long working hours?

2. Adopt a more positive mindset

Do you feel like everything is just going wrong, from the photocopier getting jammed, to your meeting overrunning, to receiving constant negative feedback from your boss? We can all have days when it feels like everything is against us, but it’s important to not let this affect you moving forward. Tomorrow is a new day, so put any negative thoughts behind you and restart with a positive mindset.

3. Find a positive work-life balance

If you constantly feel like you’re working with no leisure time, you can easily become stressed and unhappy. Despite being busy working professionals, a work-life balance is worth pursuing for the longevity of your career. It doesn’t help that mobile devices enable you to stay connected 24/7, even when you’re not in the office. Avoid the temptation to keep answering emails out of hours, leave the office at a reasonable time, arrange to meet up with friends after work and take your annual leave.

4. Stay fit and healthy

Knowing how to be happy can even begin with something very simple. What you eat and drink during the work day can play a big role in your alertness, attitude, and happiness. Make sure you don’t skip meals, drink lots of water and try to avoid regularly snacking on crisps, chocolate or soft drinks from the vending machine. Make sure you schedule time for fitness too, such as by cycling to work or enjoying a relaxing, mood-boosting yoga session at the end of the day.

5. Take charge of your professional development

After a while, it can be easy to lose the enthusiasm that you once had for your job. If you feel bored or uninspired, do something that will make you more engaged. Help your team members, challenge yourself by taking on more responsibilities, or ask your manager for some formal training to develop your skills.

6. Create a support network

According to Psychology Today, you will spend around 90,000 hours of your life at work, so why not get to know the people you work with? In fact, Robert Half’s The Secrets of the Happiest Companies and Employees reveals that people who have good relationships with their team are 2.7 times more likely to be happy on the job than those who do not get along well with colleagues. They can also become a great support network if you’re feeling unhappy and they may even be able to share their own advice on how to be happy at work.

7. Become more organised

If you feel unhappy because of your heavy workload, or unrealistic expectations from your boss, start by seeing if there are ways you can organise your work better. Create a manageable schedule each day. Ticking off each item as you go can give you a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Don’t forget to look out for any distractions that may push you off track.

8. Speak to your manager

Are you feeling under-appreciated at work? Do you want more job flexibility? Or would you like to know what your career prospects are? Whatever your concerns, if you’re unable to do something about them yourself, try speaking to your manager. If they value you, they will want to do everything they can to ensure you’re happy and remain a loyal employee.

9. Find a job you love

No job is perfect. There’s always going to be ups and downs, pros and cons. However, if you’re unhappy because of issues that can’t be fixed, consider looking for a new job. This can be daunting, but it’s not worth being unhappy. Use Robert Half’s job search to discover lots of exciting new career opportunities.

Whilst every employee is different, there are some universal factors that can help to improve your happiness. Learning how to be happy without money being a factor is often about re-approaching the simplest things in life that you may take for granted.

Your unhappiness won’t go away on its own, so it’s time to do something about it. Whilst money can be important, it doesn’t always lead to happiness. Even Apple CEO, Tim Cook, has recently been quoted saying “Don’t work for money… you will never be happy”.

If you have any additional tips on how to be happy in your career, please share your suggestions with us in the comment box below. If you’d like to discover more secrets to being happy at work, download a complete copy of Robert Half’s The Secrets of the Happiest Companies and Employees.

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