Why work should be a key focus in improving our happiness

Happiness at work comment

The iOpener Institute for People & Performance is an official partner of the UN International Day of Happiness, which took place this week. Here, iOpener’s Joint CEOs Jessica Pryce-Jones & Julia Lindsay explain why work should be a key focus of improving happiness. The UN International Day of Happiness is designed to recognize that ‘progress’ is about increasing human happiness and wellbeing as well as growing the economy. The UN’s focus this year is on ‘reclaiming happiness’. The origins of the day lie in the July 2011 UN General Assembly resolution which recognized happiness as a fundamental human goal. In April 2012 the first ever UN conference on Happiness took place. On the back of this, they designated 20th March as an annual worldwide focus on celebrating and growing happiness.

As Gallup’s research into Global Wellbeing shows, in the Western world people’s base needs are largely met. Based on interviews with adults in 155 countries, Gallup measured gross national well-being by identifying the percentage of people thriving, struggling and suffering. In the Western world the majority of people are thriving.[1] This means that their basic needs are met.

So for those of us in the West, one of our biggest opportunities to improve our overall happiness is by maximizing our Happiness at Work. Work is a big part of life – figures suggest that in the UK the average man spends approximately 11 and a half years of his life at work[2] – so it’s vital that work is a focus of improving happiness.

Reclaiming Happiness at Work is all about taking control: of your everyday tasks, your priorities, your colleague relationships and your role as a whole. The more control you have, the more you’ll be able to accomplish at work. And taking control of your role means you are more likely to achieve your potential.

Our research shows that the things that have the most significant impact on Happiness at Work are:

How motivated you feel at work: compared to the least happy, the happiest employees are 50 per cent more motivated in their roles. And without motivation, nothing gets done.

How much you love your job: work does not have to be glamorous or perceived as such to be loved by those that do it. For example, zookeepers will often take lengthy unpaid internships for the opportunity to perform the work they love[3].

How much you believe you are doing something worthwhile: we all want to feel that we’re doing something worthwhile. You’ll be doing something worthwhile if you feel that you are working on something that truly matters to you and that you feel consistently drawn to.

How much you feel you are living up to your potential: employees in the top happiness category feel that they achieve their potential 40% more than unhappy employees. This is strongly linked to their willingness to embrace goals and new challenges more too.

The UN Day of Happiness is a fantastic focus point, but it shouldn’t just be about one day. Our research shows that people who are happiest at work feel they have 33% more control than their unhappiest peers.  Taking control of your work will help you achieve your potential and lead to long term Happiness at Work.


JPJ headshot picJessica Pryce- Jones & Julia Lindsay are Joint CEOs of the iOpener institute for People & Performance which offers a range of robust and proven solutions to help organizations build a people strategy that will maximize the performance, productivity and happiness of employees. https://www.iopenerinstitute.com/

For a personalized, free report measuring your performance and Happiness at Work complete the questionnaire here: https://www.iopenerinstitute.com/get-your-free-report.aspx


[1] https://www.gallup.com/poll/126965/gallup-global-wellbeing.aspx

[2] https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/fascinating-facts-about-how-we-spend-the-days-410973

[3] Blunderson and Thompson, 2009