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What would you give to be happy at work?

Whether employed or self-employed, we all have to do what we do in order to pay our bills, look after our families, and perhaps have enough money left over to enjoy our downtime.

Diane Hall

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What would you give to be happy at work

Most people work an eight-hour day, which can be a long time if you’re in a job/run a business you hate.


According to a recent study, respondents said they would be willing to forego up to 10% of their pay if it meant they could work in a place that scores highly in employee happiness surveys. A tenth of your salary…in today’s cost-of-living crisis, that’s significant. It’s also an indication that there are some truly poor workplace cultures in the UK.


I’ve had some great jobs; however, I’ve also had a few terrible ones. The worst one actually came with decent pay, certainly a few thousand more than I was earning prior. Unfortunately, the culture of the company was awful, created and upheld by the owners of the business who couldn’t give a gnat’s chuff about anyone else but themselves. They treated their staff with contempt and did nothing to curb the constant churn of new, innocent employees replacing the roles of deflated, dejected, defeated staff who had fled the company just hours before.


I only worked there part-time, but the evening before I was due to begin another week of work, I’d feel sick. I could have cried at the thought of going into that place. The drive out of the premises each evening provided a feeling of relief I’ve not felt since.


It took me nine months of frantically searching for anything I could switch to; however, it wasn’t a candidate’s market then like it is now. In the end, I gave away 100% of my pay in the pursuit of a happier life—for only the second time in my thirty-plus career, I left without something else to go to. I wilfully made myself unemployed.

What would you give to be happy at work

What would you give to be happy at work

By the time the month was out, I had another job, but that’s not the point—when I put my notice in, I didn’t know that would be the case. I had a mortgage to pay and kids to feed when I handed in my notice (the owners made every single one of those last few weeks untenable), but there was no way I could carry on. I was there a total of nine months—I knew that accepting the job was a mistake within the first nine days.


Happiness, or even mild contentment, means a lot, particularly during the hours you work. Obviously, great pay and other perks are wonderful things to have, but only if they’re complemented by a good working culture. Because, if you’re in a job you hate, they can chuck all the money in the world at you, and it still wouldn’t be worth it. You may give it a good run, but in the end, your pride, your self-esteem and your self-worth will win out.

What would you give to be happy at work

What would you give to be happy at work

However, it's not always the boss’s fault if you have a poor experience at work. The company could invest in staff development, encourage an open, transparent and healthy work culture, and pay everyone well above the going rate, and yet the job could still make you unhappy if there’s a toxic colleague in your team. It’s always amazed me how oblivious managers and employers can be to bad behaviour. Some people I’ve worked with have had me racking my brains trying to work out how they’ve got to be in the position they’re in, when they were as bullying, confrontational and downright unpleasant as could be. People would leave in droves and not once was anyone exiting asked what (or whom) the problem was. It stretched incredulity to think those at the top weren’t aware; they just did nothing to tackle it. With such an impact on their bottom line, the threat to their carefully contrived positive culture, and unnecessary recruitment costs, it’s difficult to understand why such toxic employees are never tackled or held accountable.


Life’s too short to be in a job that makes you miserable. Some things in life you can’t control, but how you earn your money is not necessarily one of them.

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