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The fact that National Sickie Day exists should ring alarm bells. The first Monday in February is singled out as the day of the year with the highest number of workers calling in sick. This peak in absenteeism can cost the UK economy up to £45m in wages, lost hours and overtime according to the The Employment Law Experts (ELAS).

While National Sickie Day is often brushed aside as a frivolous media hype, it also serves as a solid reminder for employers to revisit the wellbeing of their workforce.

What better time than now to consider how to deal with employees’ stress, overwork and unhappiness in their companies? Putting wellbeing programmes in place improves the performance of the workforce and contributes to fixing the country’s productivity gap.

The recent growth of wellbeing programmes is good news for employees, but can we also take control of our own workplace happiness? While we may not have control over external factors such as workplace environment, here are five things we can do to take control and improve our personal wellbeing at work.

1. Play to your strengths

In the words of positive psychology guru Martin Seligman, the so-called good life is “using your signature strengths every day to produce authentic happiness and abundant gratification.” This is repeatedly backed up by science; most recently a 2018 meta-analysis revealed that signature character strengths led to a significant increase in happiness and decrease in depression.

Take some time to identify and note down what your signature strengths are. What are you naturally good at and what are the projects or activities that make it feel like time just flew past? Block out time to identify your signature strengths and use these superpowers as often as possible in your working day.

2. Analyse your true north

Analyse the values of the organisation you work for, even if it’s your own business.
Your values are so deep-rooted in your psychological makeup that they affect how you respond to events and the important decisions you make – whether you’re conscious of it or not. Where there is an alignment between personal and organisational values many people report increased happiness and fulfilment at work.

3. Find your passion

For many, doing work they are passionate about can lead to working in a state of ‘flow’ whereby time can pass without even noticing, potentially leading to greater self-esteem, increased happiness, and higher performance.

Explore what parts of your work excite you and try to make your work fun in any way you can. Whether that means exercising more to release some much-needed endorphins, or taking a break from work, do it. If all of this sounds impossible to you, it might be time to consider a career change instead.

4. Build a resilience mindset

Resilience is a mindset, a way of processing information, making decisions and behaving. As well as affecting the way we deal with challenging situations, it helps us recover from knock-backs when things don’t go according to plan.

No matter how many resilience training programmes we take part in, we ourselves are in control of how we act on it. From personal awareness to practice, it takes time to cultivate resilience and we’ve got some tips and tricks for you in our resilience blog post.

5. Work with purpose

Last but not least, put purpose at the heart of everything you do. As human beings, we strive to do a meaningful job, not just a good job. The way to achieve that is to work towards goals that are greater than you. Those that work with a sense of purpose often report higher wellbeing and a sense of team engagement.