What would you like to be when you grow up? When I was little a vet was one of my go-to responses.

I loved animals and thought working with them every day was the future for me. After a while, I realised I was terribly squeamish and perhaps it wasn’t a good pick. I asked my colleagues what they wanted to be growing up and the answers were similar – acrobat, architect, another animal-loving vet.

The point here is that as a child, you base your career aspirations on what you love, not how much you’ll earn.

In a recent Cpl survey, 75% of employees stated they would value a pay rise over any other benefit. A good salary is important. It’s what pays the bills, looks after your family and allows you to live comfortably – but it’s not everything and it certainly won’t make you happy at work.

Happiness at work is different for different people but if you find a workplace that offers the below, you’re probably on the right track to a content career.

Happiness at work: 4 things a salary can’t buy

  1. A good team

When you’re looking for a new job, a big consideration is who you’ll be working with. Who will your team be? Are they a diverse group you’ll get along with and learn from?

If you like your current colleagues, leaving them for a new opportunity can be hard, but it’s important to consider all factors.

We’re hard-wired to be social. It’s natural that a good cultural fit will increase your happiness levels. As a plus, when you’re happy and supported at work you’re more productive and less stressed. Those with good work friends are also less likely to experience burnout.

The talents of your team are also important. Many successful people recommend surrounding yourself with people who know more than you.

This is how you learn and is a good statement to keep in mind at work. A good team who supports you shares their skills and gels with your personality are all tightly linked to happiness at work.

  1. Career progression and learning

The world of work has changed a lot over the past 5 years. Millennials and Gen X now make up a large portion of the workforce and one thing they’re bringing to focus is the importance of clear career progression.

In fact, in a Cpl survey last year, 41% of employees said they would leave a job for a better career opportunity or a new challenge. Whether you’re 25 or 55, there’s little satisfaction in repeating the same thing each day. To be happy at work, we need to feel challenged and we need to keep learning.

This isn’t going unnoticed by employers. CPD programs are now much more common as are formal upskilling programs, mentorship programs and the offer of tuition payments.

  1. Flexible work & mental flexibility

From our experience, a healthy work-life balance is now a top priority for most workers. Whether this means SMART working policies, the option of flexible work or working from home. Where we work, and our working environment is also becoming a lot more fluid.

Hot desking and shared office spaces, or offices with large collaborative spaces are now all commonplace. Some people love these arrangements, others strive on a more structured desk policy. Find what works for you.

What makes each of us happy at work differs hugely, but more flexibility seems to be a commonality.

  1. Meaningful work

Having good colleagues and flexible working arrangements will only keep you happy for so long. To truly be happy at work, specialists state that we need a sense of purpose. We need to care about what we’re doing and feel like it’s both authentic and worthwhile.

Relating back to “what would you like to be when you grow up”, this means different things for different people. If you’re analytical this might be finding new solutions for engineering problems and completing projects. If you’re more empathetic this could be caring for people or working in a medical profession.

If you look at the job characteristics model job satisfaction is largely broken down into 5 variables.

  1. Variety
  2. Sense of completion
  3. Autonomy
  4. Feedback
  5. A sense that your work affects people’s lives

With this in mind, find a job that you are interested in, that offers variety and which you care about and happiness should follow.

If you’re unhappy at work remember change is possible. It’s an excellent time to be looking for a new job opportunity and our teams of recruiters are always happy to help you decide on your next career move.

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