13 April 2012

Happiness On The Job

This month, ASQ CEO Paul Borawski wrote in his blog about happiness and job satisfaction in the quality field, and asked a question to discuss with the Influential Voices group:

“Are quality professionals happy on the job?”

This interesting topic came to live because a recent study from CareerBliss.com, published by Forbes magazine, showed that Software Quality Assurance Engineering, my profession, is the most happiest job in America! I should be so happy then!

Happiness at work depends on tons of factors, from the relationship with your boss and coworkers, if you are a junior/senior/CEO employee, compensation, to work environment and your country economic situation.

Based of my experiences, I must say that I was so happy working as Software Quality Assurance Engineer and the 2 main factors that have most influenced in my happiness, at that time, were challenges (I had the responsibility to implement CMM Level2) and the relationships with my boss and coworkers (I have the best relationships I ever imagine).

When I read the article in Forbes magazine, I was surprised when CareerBliss’ chief executive, Heidi Golledge said "...happiness definitely does not align with pay, and once someone’s basic needs are met, the additional money on the job is a nice perk but is not what drives employee happiness.” 
I was surprised because, in my opinion, the salary factor is the most important factor nowadays in my country, Argentina. As I said in my Spanish post I wrote about that article, I think if we make the same survey in my country, the factor 'salary' is going to be the #1 factor every employee will select, when describing happiness on the job. The inflation in Argentina is getting bigger, but the salaries remain the same.

Recently, within my friends and family, we were talking about work and happiness. We as employees want, between other things, to get recognition and promotions, have and enjoyable and relaxing work environment, and have a great salary. Also, we want to have time for family, friends, have a healthy life and to do things that we really like to do.

However, our job sometimes (always?) gets most of our time. So, a question resulted form the conversation:

Do I really like my job? Am I really happy/motivated with my job?

Sometime we don't see the need to ask these questions because our day to day routine make us work like a 'robot' and never cross our mind even think about it, everything seems great. I have friends that feel that it is OK to be like that, while they have money for paying bills, going shopping, traveling and live well; but others feel less motivated, exhausted, "stuck" in a job they don't like feeling frustrated as professional.

So in order to be happy at work, we need to have those questions answered clearly. Yes, they are tough questions to answer, but you should do the test and take 5 minutes and think about it. Answering them will lead you to a big change on your life or to appreciate more your job. So... 

Do you really like your job? Are you really happy/motivated with your job?

When I say do you really LIKE YOUR JOB that include: your boss, coworkers, salary, work environment, daily tasks, job resources, growth opportunities, rewards, % of traveling, company reputation, etc.

Let's do the test.... I'm thinking too...

If you are between the small % of people that LOVE your job, CONGRATS!

If NOT, out there on Internet you will find tips about positive psychology, optimism, and happiness way of thinking of your job like:
* On the way to your workplace, get yourself motivated to face the day.
* Plan your time.
* Delegate wherever appropriate.
* Learn to relax no matter how challenging the work gets or how demanding your bosses become.
* Have regular breaks.
* Look for opportunities for growth.

However, if you are not happy with your job, these tips are just words; so it is time to think about it and try a re-engineering of your work life (You know that I'm a fan about implementing engineering tools and concepts into my life).
I believe everyone get to a point in his life that, after answering those questions, concludes with "This job is only OK, but is not for me anymore, I need a change right now". That is the trigger to start re-engineering your life. As Srikumar Rao says in his book Happiness at Work: Be Resilient, Motivated, and Successful - No Matter What "We are not talking about putting a Band-Aid on a cut. We are talking about genetic re-engineering on a massive scale."

In the software field, 
"Reingeneering is the examination and alteration of an existent item or system to reconstitute it in a new form"1
In other words, it is a extreme breakthrough improvement to solve chronic problems, redesign, drastic transformation, or what I like to call it is THE CHANGE.

You have to think about it, going through your work life, making the appropriate changes, be happy and do what you really enjoy and have passion about it.
Maybe is time to quit your job and start your own business as you always dream, and being your own boss. Interesting!

About happiness, Srikumar Rao says - "There is nothing that you have to get, do, or be in order to be happy. In fact, happiness is your innate nature. The question that has probably popped into your mind is, “If happiness is my innate nature, how come I’m not experiencing it? You do not experience the happiness that is your innate nature because you have spent your entire life learning to be unhappy by accepting that you have to “get” something so you can “do” something so you can “be” something. (Thus you feel that you have to get a lot of money so you can travel to exotic places so you can be happy)"

About passion he says: "Find passion in you, not in your job. Passion doesn't exist in the job—it exists in you! You can’t find it outside; you have to discover it inside"

Passion... Passion... I always say that because I'm 100% sure that if you have passion about what you do, everything is going to be perfect. And because of that, I believe that every Quality Professional is so passionate about quality (like myself) that, no matter which country we live, we are the happiest workers in the world.

To finish, the "Quote of the Month" I've selected is: "Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work" ~Aristotle

Share your thoughts!

1.Chikofsky and Cross - 1990 

Image provided by: Stuart MilesFreeDigitalPhotos.net 


  1. Great post Jime once again.

  2. Good stuff. On pay, I think many people make big mistakes focuses too much on pay. A certain level of pay is needed to meet your expectations of a reasonable life. After that increases in pay have been shown to have very little impact on happiness.

    People are happy to get a big increase in pay, but that happiness is very short-lived. You soon expect it and don't get any happiness from it.

    I constantly tell friends to really think about all the other factors they care about in changing jobs - they pay a great deal of attention to pay. One reason is pay is very easy to measure. As Ackoff said "Managers who don't know how to measure what they want settle for wanting what they can measure." http://management-quotes.net/quote/37452/ I think this is often why people focus too much on money.

    Society contributes to the focus on money (in the USA anyway) where people attach a significant amount of their self worth to their job and prestige and in the USA that often gets to $. http://management.curiouscatblog.net/2010/11/11/worth-does-not-equal-wealth/

    1. Thanks John for sharing your thoughts.

      And yes, society (consumerism) contributes to the focus on money, I think in every country. It seems that the human being never feel completely happy, always wants more and more money.

      As you said in your post, it is sadly to see that "we judge our success versus our siblings, friends, childhood friends, co-workers, children… based on our material wealth"

      Keep in contact!

  3. Excellent blog post Jimena! Your passion for your job and for quality is evident in your writing. Keep it up!

  4. Thanks Jimena!! I put in my mind: "be happy and do what you really enjoy and have passion about it.". Fully agree. Regards, César