Want to Feel Good at Work? Here's How to Boost Your Mood
Some people love what they do and never "work" a day in their life. For the rest of us, Monday is not our favorite day of the week. Even people with non-traditional work schedules welcome the chance to enhance job enjoyment and satisfaction. Thankfully, research indicates that we can.
Demanding jobs require attention and self-control. And happy employees are productive employees. Research reveals how these concepts intersect.
How to Feel Good Personally, Professionally
Many people slave away at jobs they despise because the money is good. No one can blame employees with families to feed and children to put through college for prioritizing job security over job satisfaction. But does a good paycheck improve productivity? Does money impact mood? Research reveals that actually, daily workplace experiences impact job satisfaction.
Although not establishing a causal relationship, research establishes there may in many cases be a relationship between very important aspects of on-the-job emotional satisfaction. Wladislaw Rivkin et al. (in 2016) examined the impact of daily experiences and well-being in a workplace setting.[i] They began by recognizing prior research establishing self-determination theory (SDT), which holds that the satisfaction of basic psychological needs such as competence, relatedness, and autonomy in a workplace setting creates the foundation for commitment, as well as autonomous (which is the opposite of controlled) regulation, or intrinsic motivation, which boosts a feeling of well-being.
Regarding the relationship between autonomous regulation and affective commitment, research indicates that the satisfaction of basic needs may enhance autonomous regulation — which can boost employee commitment. When commitment enhances autonomous regulation, the employee may find himself or herself better able to withstand the adverse impact of job stressors.
This is good news, because job stressors can make even the most interesting job miserable. Thankfully, there are measures that may, in some cases, help counteract the stressful aspects of any type of employment.
Want to Feel Good on the Job? Go With the Flow
Rivkin et al. investigated how an employee’s daily on-the-job experiences can boost well-being. They sought to incorporate the concept of flow experiences, defined as "states of consciousness occasionally experienced by individuals who are deeply involved in an enjoyable activity." The authors describe flow experiences as "pleasant states that are highly intrinsically motivating and during which employees experience high levels of autonomous regulation."
They believed that employees who are strongly committed to their jobs would be more likely to feel autonomous regulation or intrinsic motivation at work, which would likely to translate into flow experiences.
Sure enough, Rivkin et al. found that day-specific flow experiences mediated the positive relationship between employee commitment and well-being. When employees enjoy the experience of flow, the results suggest, they may find themselves better equipped to cope with demands on their self-control.
Not Married to Your Job? How to Get Engaged
If you are not already "all in" at your workplace, there are ways to become more engaged. Woocheol Kim et al. (2017) examined the relationship between work engagement and organizational commitment.[ii] They recognize this type of research is valuable due to the impact of both concepts on the well-being of employees and the performance of the organization.
Kim et al. adopted research-based definitions of both concepts, recognizing work engagement as "positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption," and organizational commitment as "the relative strength of an individual’s identification with and involvement in a particular organization."
They further adopted a definition of work engagement as synonymous with concepts such as "employee engagement, job engagement, role engagement, or personal engagement."
They note that the literature appears to suggest that the impact of engagement on commitment depends on job resources such as social support, performance feedback, role clarity, autonomy, and career development, or job characteristics such as task significance or identity.
Your Job as Your Home Away From Home
Given the significant amount of time people spend on the job, this research seems to suggest that workplace structure can indeed contribute to satisfaction, and that a positive workplace experience involves much more than merely going through the motions. Think about this the next time you are invited to a "teambuilding" activity such as a retreat or professional seminar. (no, a happy hour does not technically count).
Companies that strive to go the extra mile to support employees both personally and professionally that have an opportunity to enhance job satisfaction, and maintain employee productivity, and loyalty.
A version of this article was originally published in Psychology Today.
Wendy L. Patrick is a career prosecutor, named the Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year, and recognized by her peers as one of the Top Ten criminal attorneys in San Diego by the San Diego Daily Transcript. She has completed over 150 trials ranging from human trafficking, to domestic violence, to first-degree murder. She is President of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals San Diego Chapter and an ATAP Certified Threat Manager. Dr. Patrick is a frequent media commentator with over 3,00 appearances including CNN, Fox News Channel, Newsmax, and many others. She is author of "Red Flags" (St. Martin´s Press), and co-author of the revised version of the New York Times bestseller "Reading People" (Random House). On a personal note, Dr. Patrick holds a purple belt in Shorin-Ryu karate, is a concert violinist with the La Jolla Symphony, and plays the electric violin with a rock band. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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