The Perks of Working Happy
Those tasked with giving motivational speeches almost inevitably include a variation of the phrase: “Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.” While this is an oversimplification, new research is beginning to outline how important enjoying what you do, and taking breaks while you do it, actually is.
Unsurprisingly, employees who enjoy their jobs are more productive, in better health, and more loyal than those who do not. The reasons behind why employees enjoy their work are less clear. Research shows that job satisfaction and pay levels are very closely linked, and 59% of employees give better pay as the reason for moving to another job. However, pay doesn’t appear to be everything. Members of the clergy, roofers, barbers, gas-pump attendants, bar staff, and ambulance attendants all report high levels of job satisfaction, despite wishing their jobs paid more. Skilled workers who are better paid, such as those in IT, law, and biotechnology all rate their overall job satisfaction as low despite being happy with their higher paycheck. Numerous factors such as stressful work and limited free time can explain this gap between high pay and low satisfaction. It has even been suggested that skilled professionals expect too much of themselves which leads to feelings of dissatisfaction. Overall, trusting your employer, enjoying your co-workers, working in a good location, flexible hours, advancement opportunities, and training all contribute to loving the job that you do.
Even if you love what you do, there is a real risk that you’re doing too much. A study compiled by the Economist took “potential years of life lost” or PYLL, which is a measure of how many years a person could have lived if they had not died prematurely (according to statistics). They then plotted this figure against the number of hours an individual worked in a year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they found that the higher the number of hours worked, the higher the likelihood of an early death. Stress leading to heart disease, depression, poor eating habits, unhealthy environments, and other factors contributed to the decline in lifespan. So, even if you enjoy your job, work a reasonable number of hours to ensure you’ll be able to spend a long full life doing what you love.
While we don’t live in an ideal world where everyone can work short hours with high pay in a job with trustworthy managers; beginning to change small things about the work environment around you could have a lasting effect on your happiness and health.