Meaning: Alexander Kjerulf on the happiness beyond job satisfaction

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Alexander Kjerulf

Why is there so little concept of happiness at work? In Scandanavia there’s even a word for it: Arbejdsglaede

It’s not about being deliriously happy, it’s about that feeling of kinda liking what you do. It’s a feeling, not job satisfaction. A lot of companies measure and try and improve job satisfaction. Arberjdsglaede is how you feel about your job, job satisfaction is what you think about it. It’s measured through a cerebral exercise of judgement.

Anyone can have it. Sewage workers have it. You become part of the team when you have your first head-under accidental dunking…

What make you happy at work? Pay? Perks? Promotion? Good coffee? None of those.

1: Results

Making a difference – being proud of what you do – feeling that you did an awesome job, and contributed positively. It doesn’t need to be in a checking-off tick boxes way. Not completing tasks – but knowing that you made a positive difference. A lot of jobs offer this – and some don’t. Say… you make landmines. Is that meaningful? To most, probably not.

2: Relationships

It’s very banal: it’s when you like the people you work with. Everything goes easier when you like each other. Knowing something about the person behind the professional title – when you have a coffee break in the work place, take the time to talk about other things than work. More and more people skip coffee breaks and eat lunch at their desk, missing an opportunity for this. 
The Meaning crowd*He had us greeting, complimenting, and touching each other to prove this. *

About 30 to 35% of the English hate their jobs. Why do we put up with this? There is an idea that work something slaves do so free men have time for philosophy and sports that started with the ancient Greeks. This came to the fore in the industrial age – that was a terrible time to be a worker. The attitude is that work is something you have to do.

We spend most of our waking hours at work. It’s the number three factor in life happiness after a romantic relationship and family. People who are happy at work do better work. Chasing success thinking it will make you happy is a failed idea. But working at something you love is more likely to make you successful.

Southwest Airlines make employee happiness their number one priority, because that will make customers happy which will make investors happy.

What can you do? Really greet co-workers tomorrow, do random acts of workplace kindness, give yourself a little me time – and write down three things which were really awesome at work today.

Happiness at work is something you create together, every day. It’s a great business strategy.


Adam Tinworth Twitter

Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.