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Go to work happy with these 20 ways to start your day

July 11, 2022 - 13 min read


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What is the importance of finding happiness at work?

What can I do to be happier at work?

What factors influence your well-being at work?

Moving forward

Your alarm buzzes, and you’re awake, which means it's time to get ready for your workday. You’re going to work happy today, and that puts a spring in your step. 

But not everyone feels the same way you do. Our feelings toward going to work each day can have an impact on our well-being. It’s important for us to learn how we can feel more positive about our work environment, and also why we might feel the opposite so we can create change.

Sometimes, the reasons why we don’t feel happy about going to work aren’t because of us, but because of other factors in our workplace. 

Think beyond the perks you have at work that your employer provides. Factors that contribute to your happiness at work include your: 

Also a factor: how your current job impacts your mental health. 

Find out how to be happy in the workplace and why it's essential to value joy.


What is the importance of finding happiness at work?

You’ll often get advice on how to be effective at your job. But it’s less common to hear wisdom that acknowledges the importance of being happy in the workplace. 

Your mental health and well-being are far more important than how many meetings you attend or spreadsheets you create in a day. Sure, happy employees produce better work and are more productive. But t workplace happiness contributes to more than the quality of our contributions at work. 

Employee happiness isn't a nice thing to have — it’s a necessity. It helps team members stay motivated, avoid burnout and recognize each other’s abilities.

When you’re happy going to work, and being there, you’ll also likely leave in a happier state. You won’t bring negative experiences home, nor will professional responsibilities hang over you. All this adds up to an improved personal life and work-life balance

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What can I do to be happier at work?

Perks from your employer can have a sizable effect on your workplace happiness. But there’s plenty you can do yourself to make your work experience happier, too. 

Take a look at these tips, divided into ways you can improve your workplace happiness right now — and in the future. You can implement these tips in your current role. Or, keep them in mind next time you embark on a job search.  


10 tips for the present

  1. Reward yourself for any accomplishment, big or small
  2. Create a playlist of songs that improve your mood
  3. Practice mindful meditation and breathing exercises
  4. Fuel your body with a balanced diet (yes, what you eat affects your mood, as well as your energy levels)
  5. Get up, stretch your body, and do some physical activity
  6. Use positive self-talk to help you get through tough moments
  7. Let your imagination wander as you're commuting to work
  8. Have some self-care practices on hand
  9. Spread joy to other coworkers in any small ways you can
  10. Decorate your working area with homey things like mugs and photos

10 tips for the future

  1. Find a career that you enjoy and aligns with your values
  2. Look for work that lets you be creative
  3. Make sure that your workplace values time off
  4. Write down your goals for the next year and how you plan to achieve them
  5. Keep an eye out for signs of burnout among you and other team members
  6. Be brave and take risks
  7. Network to expand your list of work friends and professional connections
  8. Don't be afraid to decline a job if you sense it won't be good for your well-being
  9. Make your weekends count so that you feel recharged
  10. Work on speaking up for yourself and your needs

Do you need support from someone outside of your workplace? BetterUp can provide you with the guidance on applying these tips to achieve a happier, healthier work environment.


What factors influence your well-being at work?

You can do a lot for your happiness levels. But not everything is under your control.  What you can be in charge of is your attitude, and these five factors in your work environment that influence your happiness:

1. Your relationships with coworkers

We all like to have friends and people we get along with at work. Besides being a source of joy, our team members can support us both professionally and personally.

If you encounter a problem, you want to feel like you can explain your feelings or situation to your team for support. Even something as simple as having someone to eat lunch with can make a difference in our happiness at work. Make an effort to build meaningful relationships with your colleagues. 

2. Your opportunities to use your skills

You know your skills, and you want to put them to good use. Perhaps you've just finished school and you're excited to apply the knowledge you've learned. If your job doesn't fulfill you or allow you to do what you like, it can be disheartening.

Using our skills makes us feel capable and intelligent. Without it, you might feel like you’re wasting your talents.

Try asking for more opportunities at your current workplace if you feel like you’re underusing your skills. Or, consider looking for a new role entirely. 


3. Your level of independence

If your boss hovers over you at all times, you might feel like you have zero autonomy at your workplace. A lack of independence contributes to a lack of growth and career development opportunities.

It could also be a sign that your managers don't trust you. Having someone constantly evaluate your every move hinders your ability to enjoy your work. Being micromanaged makes us feel that we aren't capable, even when we are. 

Try to look for opportunities to do your work by yourself. It can be a test for your managers to see if they allow you to do so, and how much they trust you.

4. The company culture

How do you feel when you walk into the office? Is the atmosphere welcoming and positive, or is it filled with competitiveness and fear? You're surrounding yourself with this energy each day, so of course it's going to impact your workplace happiness.

Company culture isn't something we can change as easily as eating lunch with our coworkers. If the atmosphere from your supervisors, fellow team members, and the tasks demanded of you harm your mood, it’ll be hard to find a source of happiness. 

Having a positive company culture isn’t just important for you. Deloitte found that 94% of their executives and 88% of their employees believe that company culture is a crucial part for business success.

It’s a part of the workplace that needs to be valued not only for your own happiness, but for a business standpoint as well. If your workplace doesn’t place importance on company culture, it could signal that they don’t see much value in keeping their employees happy or grow their business.

Strike up a conversation with your managers and other team members. Ask how they value company culture, and how they plan on putting their efforts towards maintaining it.


5. Your ability to find meaning in work

We all want our work to mean something. When our values align with our work's mission statements and purpose, it boosts our happiness. If they don't, we struggle to find the motivation to work hard and enjoy what we do.

Employee engagement keeps people focused on their goals and encourages them to do well. Without it, we may feel like robots performing the same tasks day in and day out.

Employees who find meaning in their work are 69% less likely to quit their jobs within the six months. Because their work fulfills them and makes them feel like they have purpose, they don’t see a reason for leaving.

Make an effort to find work that’s meaningful to you. Research and learn the values of the company you work for, and see if they align with your own.

Moving forward

Everyone deserves to be happy at work, no matter what they do. Remember — finding happiness at work isn't strictly for professional purposes. Your mental health follows you everywhere. Going to work happy is a necessity, not a luxury.

Sometimes we stick with a job that makes us happy out of fear, but that's not how we deserve to live. Making changes to your work experience is filled with uncertainty, but finding ways to be happier at work will benefit you in the future. 

Your moves might seem daunting right now, but you can always keep in mind that you're choosing to put yourself first — and that's empowering.

When you're trying to make a change, it's helpful to have someone who holds you accountable. BetterUp can provide the accountability you need to stick to the goals that will benefit your well-being for years to come.

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Published July 11, 2022

Erin Eatough, PhD

Sr. Insights Manager

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