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Taking control of your workplace happiness

When you spend a significant part of your week in one place it’s important to assess how you’re feeling when you’re there.

How happy are you at work and what impact is it having on your overall health and well-being? According to our new Vhi Health Insights report into happiness in the workplace, one in three corporate employees classify themselves as unhappy.

If you are one of these people, you may be wondering what you can do to improve your workplace happiness. Here are some factors that can influence it as well as some tips on how to address them.


Your relationships with your colleagues can have a profound influence on workplace happiness. The relationship between you and your line manager, meanwhile, is the most important of all.

We look to our line managers for understanding and recognition. Given how important this relationship is, good communication between you both can help you feel more positive about your workplace.

For example, arranging a frequent check-in with your line manager can be a simple way of maintaining this relationship. It also allows you to check-in with yourself regularly to assess how you’re feeling. This will give you more control over your happiness in work and strengthen your relationship with your line manager.

Personal autonomy

For many of us, feeling like we have control and that we can be flexible around our work life is important for our happiness. It can be as simple as feeling listened to by colleagues and management or getting involved with workplace initiatives.

Line managers are generally best placed to address any issues around managing workload and flexibility so communicate your needs to them when necessary. This can give you greater control of your work-life balance and boost your mood too.

Getting involved with things like the work social committee or green committee can bring great satisfaction. It can help strengthen relationships with colleagues making you feel more positive about your workplace and lowering your stress levels.

Life stage

The greatest level of life satisfaction worldwide is among older people. Our study showed that one in four of those over 46 reported being extremely happy with their life overall. This is more than double that of their younger colleagues, which suggests that younger workers may be feeling the strain more than their older colleagues.

It’s helpful to be aware of the norm among your age group as it can help put your feelings into perspective. Ask yourself: are you unhappy with work or is there something else happening in your life that could be contributing to your unhappiness?

Immediate environment

The environment around you has an impact on your happiness. If you feel positive about a place, you tend to be more productive and creative in that space. Keeping your environment professional yet positive can be a great mood-lifter, even if it’s something as simple as a clean desk.

Adding a desk plant or asking for more plants to be placed around your office can have great benefits including lower stress and higher productivity. If you find your office is too hot or too cold, ask for the thermostat to be adjusted to a temperature that everyone finds agreeable. Make sure you get some fresh air too by opening a window. This will help ventilate the space and remove excess carbon dioxide which can make us feel drowsy.

Recognising the factors that affect your workplace happiness can be a great step in taking control of it.

It is also worth taking note of feelings of unhappiness at work when they occur. This will give a clearer picture of what, if anything, is causing unhappiness and give you the ability to address those areas directly.

For more articles on workplace happiness, click here.