Work Emotion: How Can I Be Happy at Work and Still Succeed? Part 2

Posted by Bridget Beirne
September 2, 2014

by John Buxi

We're pleased to bring you part 2 in our Blog Exchange, with thoughts on happiness in the workplace from Guest Blogger (and Friend of Ovation) John Buxi. As a Strategic Communication and Diversity Leader, John brings his knowledge (and great sense of humor) to today's leaders as well as tomorrow's emerging professionals. You can check out his blog, or follow him on the Twitter, @JustaSymbol. Thanks again, John!

You can find Part 1 of this article HERE.



The Cynic in us might say, well, money, right? And that’s true…to a point.

A study came out that showed that achieving the Median Range Income of about $50,000 a year gives a work-emotiongreat deal of contentment. Increases from there helped only until around $75,000 or thereabouts, after which we experience diminishing rates of return.

If we use this data and look at the ‘happiest’  and ‘unhappiest’ professions, there are some predictable results, and also some unpredictable ones.

Predictably, Security patrol (income around $27K) is less satisfying than a Software Job (around the $70-90K range)- money does matter, but also it is the low opportunity to improve and advance, or challenge one’s own abilities. An Executive Recruiter is lower ranked in this survey than a Database Administrator, despite similar incomes – the reason given is that with more and more technology dependency the tangible usefulness of a DBA’s efforts are higher and more wide-reaching. In other words, status and wider influence are big factors, income remaining constant.

With an emphasis on effectiveness, transparency, achievement and process, companies like Zappos are gearing to somehow combine the Work/Life Holy Grail: being Happy at work by being Happy with yourself as a productive, successful person, and bringing that satisfaction to the abode. 

Historically, many offbeat managerial methods have been tried, but most have fallen by the wayside except the traditional strong hierarchical methods, usually because of too much unstructured work. Yet, the new-age managerial methods are less about ‘doing away’ with structure, and “more about making hierarchies fluid”. Along with the buzzword ‘engagement’, come linked buzzwords such as ‘social’ and ‘community’, and all of a sudden it’s like everyone wants to operate like a startup, using methods like Agile and Scrum to adapt larger organizations to this start up-friendly business ethos.

And so we realize somewhere, that while money and work structures are important, what really allows our work emotion to be a 'happy' one - both in the sense of contentment and engagement – is achieving the thing that motivates socially, as people, and for leaders to tap into this resource to make the organization succeed.

Author David Rock calls the SCARF set of orientation/motivations- Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness. As the names suggest, different people are motivated by importance (say of a job title), reassurance of their good progress, delegation of authority, socializing and equal treatment. Many may be a combination of each, or with one dominant trait.

In the end though, while systems of management are highly effective, they need the key ingredients of a strong mission, vision and objectives that cater to the SCARF motivations, a strong human values leader that knows how to lead, delegate and relate with employees, and strong cultural-fit hires that resonate with this culture and follow it’s rules to create great results.

So there you have it. Your Happiness lies in engaging at work to Succeed, connecting socially to Live, and using a little bit of Luck along the way.

May you always be Happy.



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