From an end of year bonus, a successful meeting or even a smile from a colleague, we all have different things that make us happy at work. And with our work lives getting longer – on average Brits spend 99,117 hours at work over a lifetime – it’s more important than ever to maintain good mental health in the workplace.
Just over half of the UK workforce is happy at work, according to a 2016 Guardian Jobs survey commissioned to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week. The top reasons for keeping happy at work are salary (60%), feeling valued (60%) and having a good relationship with the team (56%), while company benefits and parental leave were least important for the 1004 workers surveyed.
“The workplace is a really important environment for mental health and wellbeing,” says Chris O’Sullivan, policy and development manager at the Mental Health Foundation. “It gives us a sense of purpose, a role, strong friendships and a type of relationship that we don’t get in other places.” These strong relationships are even more important as the line between work life and personal life gets increasingly blurred, with, for example, the pressure of being able to access work emails 24/7.
Retail manager Joe Harvey-Whyte agrees that healthy relationships at work are most important to his wellbeing. “I like having colleagues who you have things in common with, and having relationships that transcend the working environment,” he says.
But how do you nurture these vital relationships with colleagues? O’Sullivan suggests being “present” when you communicate with colleagues, which might mean turning your phone off to really listen and concentrate on what they’re saying. On the other hand, being listened to is also vital for your own wellbeing, he says. “If we switch from passively taking stuff in, to actively listening and hearing what is being said, the quality of the conversation increases dramatically. This is good for productivity, and vital for having conversations about mental health at work.”
Interestingly, there was a slight gender disparity between what gives men and women the most happiness at work. Sixty five per cent of women surveyed said feeling valued was most important, whereas the majority of men surveyed (62%) believe their salary has the greatest impact on their happiness. For Katy Papineau, a digital marketing consultant, feeling valued by her team is important to her wellbeing: “What makes me happy at work is that I've made a few close friends who I would hang out with outside of work, and also that I get on really well with a wider group of people. And because I know everyone, I feel like my work is valued more.”
Overall, the Guardian research shows that most of those surveyed feel that relationships and feeling valued are just as important as how much they earn. Nic Marks, CEO & director of Happiness Works emphasises the importance of building a happy workplace culture from a managerial point of view, but he says it “doesn’t need to break the bank”. “It is about investing the time to build relationships and ensure that employees feel valued and appreciated for the effort they put it.”
He adds: “If more businesses did this then there would be a clear win-win; happier employees and better financial performance. There is no trade off between happiness at work and financial success.”
Thank you to Naomi Larsson of The Guardian Jobs – Click here to review original article.
Jose joined New Frontiers in 2000 working a variety of roles from recruitment consultant to in-house recruiter and staff trainer and now General Manager. Jose has a wealth of travel industry experience having worked in travel for 8 years prior to joining New Frontiers with roles in retail and for a tour operator.