When it comes to happiness in the workplace, it might be what you're doing when you're not at work that makes you more content. Keas, an employer health and engagement program company, recently announced the results of its Employee Happiness Index, the results might surprise you.
According to survey, it's not getting a promotion or working on fun projects that makes most people happy at work. Instead, exercise, good sleeping habits and a rich personal life increases workers happiness levels.
1. Breaking a sweat. The Happiness Index found that 87 percent of workers believe that exercise increases their happiness.
That exercise can range from an occasional walk outside to a more rigorous workout routine. Exercising regularly can improve not only your happiness index, but also lower stress, help you sleep better, and make you healthier overall.
So if you're not currently exercising, consider adding one or more of these forms to your routine and see if you don't start whistling while you work:
• Walking, jogging or running
• Yoga or Pilates
• Gym workouts
• Team sports
• Dance classes
2. Getting plenty of sleep. The number of shut-eye hours you get can also affect your attitude at work. Considering that millions of people aren't getting enough sleep, that can make plenty of unhappy co-workers. But on the other hand, getting ample sleep can make your workday go more smoothly. In Keas' study, 73 percent of those surveyed said they feel that they always or frequently get enough sleep.
What's "enough sleep?" That depends, but experts say seven to eight hours on average is enough to help your body rest and recover. It's not just the number of hours; it's the quality of your sleep too.
To sleep more deeply, avoid using electronics (yes, that includes the iPad stored by your bed) an hour or so before bed. Try to minimize distractions that might wake you from a deep slumber, and you'll rise more rejuvenated.
3. Spending time with family. If your family or significant other makes you happy, you're like 65 percent of workers. Having a rich personal life makes for a happier employee, according to the survey results. Positive relationships can improve your health, encourage you to adopt healthy habits and reduce loneliness.
On the converse, having problems with family members can keep you up at night (contributing to a lack of sleep).
4. Abstaining from alcohol. The study showed that the happiest employees — at least 41 percent of them — don't drink. However, it may depend on an employee's role within the company. Just like in the show Mad Men, 70 percent of management drinks regularly, in comparison to 59 percent of blue collar workers.
While medical experts keep flip-flopping about whether an occasional drink offers health benefits, the fact is: most people imbibe past the point of realizing any health perks. Drinking too much can make it difficult to sleep (we're back to #2) and make it difficult to function well the next day. A hangover makes it hard to be happy at work.
On the other hand, drinking occasionally or not at all can reduce your risk of many dangerous diseases and help make you more productive overall.
5. Eating cleaner. Imagine this: not eating junk food could make you happier. In the study, 80 percent of those surveyed avoid junk food and diet fads; two bad habits that not only negatively affect your health but also your bliss.
Consider how you feel after gorging on a large burger, fries and a soft drink, then heading back to the office. You probably feel sluggish then terrible once you burn off the carbs mid-afternoon. If you give in to diet fads, consider how hostile you are when you can't eat sugar. None of this makes it any easier to work alongside you and doesn't improve your work efforts.
Regularly consuming junk food can cause arterial damage and put you at risk for obesity. Eliminating it from your diet can help you feel more clear-headed and productive. It's an obvious choice, even if it's not an easy decision to make.
If you wish you were happier at your job, don't start looking for a new one just yet. It may be a matter of making some internal changes that will shift your perspective to make you happier at work.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.