According to a recent article on Forbes, 52.3% of Americans are unhappy at work. In other words, more than half of the workforce shows up to an office for at least 40 hours a week even though they really don’t like doing it.
No matter what field you find yourself in, chances are you spend a significant chunk of your week at the office. Since that’s the case, there’s not much sense in approaching your job with a negative attitude. It won’t end well.
You have a choice. So why be miserable?
If you find yourself ruing the day you first stepped foot inside your office, consider the following 18 tips that should help you drive your own employee engagement — and therefore more productive (not to mention more pleasant to be around) — at work:
1. Believe in the work you do
Do you feel as though your work contributes to the greater good? Or do you just show up at the office to simply get a paycheck? When you believe in the work you do, work becomes easier because you’re committed to the cause. You don’t necessarily have to be curing cancer. You just need to provide goods or services that you believe make people’s lives better.
2. Incentivize yourself
Need a little extra motivation? Reward yourself with a tasty treat when you reach a certain self-imposed milestone. (Think: “Once I finish this section of the project, I’m going to buy myself a delicious mocha.”) It’ll give you something to look forward to and should help your mood.
3. Have fun
Work doesn’t have to be boring. Don’t forget to crack a couple jokes from time to time, when appropriate and within reason. After all, peers are the number one reason employees love their job — so no one wants to work with a Negative Nancy.
4. Decorate your work space
What makes your work space different from your coworkers’ spaces? Since you’re going to spend a lot of time sitting at your desk, you may want to customize your work space with all sorts of odds and ends that’ll perk you up: a picture of your dog, a funny coffee mug, a pretty calendar, and the like.
5. Listen to music
Assuming your office allows it, you could always throw on some tunes when you’re feeling blue at work. Put together some playlists specifically designed to cheer you up.
6. Go for a walk
According to WebMD, we’re happier when we exercise. To beat the midday stuck-at-work blues, head outside and go for a walk. The more adventurous might choose to go to the gym and break a legit sweat. In any case, it’ll be easier to deal with work once your blood is flowing.
7. Take a nap
Companies like Google, Facebook, and Proctor & Gamble are investing their money in nap pods, which are essentially stations specifically designed to help workers sleep on the job. Why are they doing that? Because napping improves our moods and makes us more alert. Imagine how happy you’d be if you could look forward to a 30-minute power nap each afternoon.
8. Eat lunch with a coworker
Everyone needs to eat. Since you’re stuck in the same office with the same people for at least 40 hours each week, you might as well get to know them. When you’re at your wits’ end, ask a peer to join you for a bite to eat. Get to know them better.
9. Surf the Web
When all else fails, you can always count on the Internet. If you’re feeling down at the office, try to get lost in an Internet black hole. The lighthearted folks might prefer to look at content on social networks and BuzzFeed. The curious folks will probably find things like this Wikipedia article to be of particular interest.
10. Drink water
How many glasses of water do you drink each day? Water is super healthy for you, and it can also make you happier at work. Keep a glass of water on your desk to stay hydrated and energized.
11. Lend a helping hand
It feels good to help others, particularly when they appreciate our contributions. When your coworkers need help, by all means assist in any way you can. In addition to feeling good from helping, you can expect (at least some of) your coworkers to return the favor in the future.
12. Organize social activities
We’re happier when there’s something to look forward to. So why not organize a monthly social outing for members of your team?
13. Take time off
It’s called paid time off for a reason: you get paid to take time off from work. Make sure to use all your vacation time, particularly at organizations that don’t allow vacation days to roll over from year to year. Time off will rejuvenate you.
14. Bring your pet to the office
Who doesn’t love a dog in the office? Animals help lighten the mood. Bring your pet to the office — and encourage your peers to do the same. This is assuming, of course, that your boss is cool with it.
15. Ask for more responsibilities
Part of the reason you might be unhappy at work is because you’re bored. So challenge yourself. Ask your boss for more responsibilities. Who knows? The proactive request could even help advance your career as your boss identifies you as a go-getter.
16. Be courteous to others
Treat others as you’d like to be treated, so the saying goes. Be nice to your coworkers, and chances are they’ll be nice right back to you. It sure beats having all your coworkers hate you.
17. Start working remotely
Maybe it’s your coworker who sits next to you and chews with their mouth open. Maybe it’s your awful commute. Whatever the reason, if you’re miserable at the office, you may want to ask your boss if you’re allowed to work from home. You don’t need to stay in your pajamas every day. But breaking up the workweek with a couple days at home should make you happier.
18. Go to sleep at a reasonable hour
You’re not going to be happy at work if you’re exhausted. The ability to be happy at work starts with a good night’s sleep. Don’t burn the candle on both ends. A word to the wise: The Wall Street Journal says the average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, so plan accordingly.
18. Find a new job
If you’ve tried everything and you’re still miserable at your job, here’s your last resort: find a new place to work. You’re not stuck at your job. You’re free to leave at any time. Of course, finding a new job can be a difficult, time-consuming process. But if you’re determined to find a new gig and you stick with your search, you’ll land on your feet soon enough — and hopefully at a place that makes you smile.
What tricks do you find make it easier for you to be happy at work? We’d love to hear them!