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May 1, 2014
Find and Maintain Workplace Happiness
The “careers” your parents and grandparents had are things of the past — these days, we have experiences. The desire for stability in a career has been buried by the desire to love what you do, all day, every day.

You will spend more waking hours a week at work than home — sad, but true — so if you desire a happy life, a happy job is pretty critical.

How to find such enticing, elusive happiness? Understand what you want and need. Let’s go back to Psych 101: remember Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”? It essentially says that after you’ve fulfilled your basic needs (food, water, shelter) you can care about higher needs (self-actualization, spirituality, yoga, Netflix).

Keep these adaptions below in mind as you seek your next job. Help yourself find where your real happiness might lie.

Finding the Right Environment: Your Physiological Need

Take a long look around when interviewing. You’ll get an initial indication of what the company considers important. Free snacks and couches? A priority on socialization. Tons of cabinets and orderly desks? Organization rules. Environments are tangible representations of culture — what you are on the outside hints at what’s important on the inside.

Seeking Job Security: Your Safety Need

You’re not a lifer. We get it. It’s not us; it is you — your desire to experience the world. So longevity is moot, but still, let’s talk job security. To do really amazing things, you need an advocate in your manager, and compatriots as your coworkers. Ask how they characterize their teams. Watch word choices and body language. Ask your potential manager about management style.

Looking for Connection: Your Need to Belong

Social identification (that the groups you belong to influence your self-image) means you should take to heart the beliefs and product of the company you choose. To feel happy, you need to feel pride in saying you work for "NAME OF AMAZING COMPANY.” This could be because of what’s important there, the awards it wins, or something else. Aligning with what matters to you leads to experiencing more satisfaction at work.

Pursuing Confidence: Your Need for Self Esteem

Does the company celebrate success and thank people? When interviewing, do you see awards or announcements of success around? Each step in your career should build you up into something better. So ask how people get credit, and how the company invests back in employee growth. It’s huge — and many companies overlook it.

Building Differentiation: Your Need to Self-Actualize

Work somewhere that believes in giving you the chance to experiment and fosters innovation. Look up people who’ve worked there before you. What have they achieved? What has the company done that stands out and makes you think you could do something like that again? To be part of change, you have to be in a place that embraces it.

Happiness at work is worth pursuing — and easier to accomplish when you’re honest with yourself about what you’re looking for. Smile, and get out there.

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Jacqueline Debien leads organizational development and learning for total brand experience agency Momentum Worldwide. She creates solutions that empower the organization to capitalize on talent, and empower talent to fulfill their professional aspirations. She is also a professional coach – certified in Predictive Index, Discovery Insights – and has a Master’s in Industrial/Organization Psychology.
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