Bad Days At Work: What Squashes Happiness at the Office?

WooHoo Inc. released some interesting findings in a survey it conducted involving 700 people from around the globe.

The survey was about bad days at work, how common they are, and what qualifies them as “bad days.”

Some might argue that a bad work day has nothing to do with the actual job itself. And, that’s probably true sometimes.

The survey specifically asked, “The last time you had a bad day at work, was it bad because of the factors at work or the factors outside of work?”

Seventy-four percent of respondents said it was factors at work.


So, here’s the ultimate question. What about our work makes us unhappy? According to the survey, these are the top five ways to kill happiness:

  1. Horrible bosses (lack of support and communication).
  2. Negative relationships with coworkers (complaining and bullying).
  3. A lack of direction (uncertainty about vision and strategy).
  4. No praise for work (lack of recognition).
  5. A huge workload (stressed and busy).

The lowest ranking factors for bad days at work, were lack of perks and also bad physical work environments. This fact confirms that workers are more interested in meaningful work than, for example, doing nothing all day or goofing off.

Something that should also be taken into consideration is that pay didn’t make the list. Is there a relationship between pay and happiness?

A study done that involved more than 200K employees suggested that a 10 percent increase in pay is only associated with a 1-point increase in satisfaction.


So, are you wondering how to not kill happiness at work?

According to a research study from Professor Teresa Amabile from Harvard Business School, it actually comes down to everyday things that managers and leaders do and say.

Amabile studied the diaries of 238 professionals in 26 project teams from seven different companies, in order to learn about their personal work lives.

Overall, she found that people are enriched by a fulfilling daily work life and are powerfully influenced by particular daily events.

Her study found that the top five leader behaviors that have a positive influence on people’s feelings are:

  1. Emotional support.
  2. Positive feedback.
  3. Public recognition for good performance.
  4. Active listening and respect for individual opinions.
  5. Collaborating on work.

Results from Globoforce’s new WorkHuman Research Institute support the Harvard Business School results – especially the emotional support when it comes to employee happiness.

Workers who know that their company/leader cares about them as a person are 17 percent more likely to be happy at work and are nine percent more likely to be happy at home.

This survey shows that appealing to workers’ humanity and also trying to build a more positive work environment can provide rewards when it comes to employee happiness.


All of these studies confirm one thing, and that one thing should really be obvious to most people today — a miserable work environment can put a serious drain on time, money, and resources.

Companies and managers who want to stand out and make their employees happy should focus on the leader behaviors that are outlined above, if they want to experience the benefits of a happier workforce.

Making employees happy isn’t a hard task. It doesn’t take much time, it just takes some thought and dedication. Having a happy, positive work environment will be healthier for both leaders and employees, so why not make it a priority?

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