Are you happy with your job? (and what about your partner, friend or mother in law :-)

The holidays are a perfect time to reflect on your current job. Having the time to think about this is great but sometimes you need some extra input to make up your mind. When I ask people what makes them happy or what makes them unhappy with their job they often mention the following 10 factors: Meeting

What makes people happy with their job? (in order of importance)

  1. Friendly co-workers/good atmosphere
  2. Enjoyable tasks
  3. Good management
  4. Good balance between your work life and personal life
  5. Variety of work
  6. Feeling that your work is worthwhile
  7. Feeling that your contribution truly makes a difference
  8. Being part of a successful team
  9. Recognition of your achievements
  10. Good pay

 What makes people unhappy with their job? (in order of importance)

  1. Insufficient communication on the part of the management
  2. Wages too low
  3. Little or no recognition for achievements
  4. Poor management
  5. Not enough freedom for personal development
  6. No attention paid to new ideas
  7. Too few opportunities for high performers
  8. Lack of fringe benefits
  9. Work is no fun
  10. Feeling that your contribution doesn’t really matter

Perhaps if you take a closer look at these 10 happy and 10 unhappy factors it is already clear to you. For those of you who need (or want) more we made a little questionnaire. This can help you to assess whether your current job or potential future jobs are compatible with you. For each point, award a score of between 1 and 10 (1 = negative, 10 = positive). Naturally, for questions 1 and 2, a score of 0 is also possible. (For more information on this questionnaire take a look at chapter 5 of our book on Happiness at Work).

 Questionnaire: Are you happy with your job?

1. Read through the list of factors that contribute to a happy working environment (see above). How many of these ten factors are applicable?
2. Read through the list of factors that contribute to an unhappy working environment (see above). How many of these ten factors are not applicable?
3. The organization and function suits my personality. See this test for your personality.
4. I can make optimum use of my talents.
5. My values and goals are compatible with the vision and mission of the organization.
6. I get along well with my co-workers.
7. I have a lot of faith in my manager’s ability.


Add up your scores for the seven questions and write down your total score. Read the descrip­tion that corresponds to your score:

54-70: A great result! The chances are high that your work brings out the best in you. If you have completed this test for a potential new job, then seize the opportunity with both hands!

41-53: If this is your current job, then it might be an idea to see what improvements can be made. If this is a potential new job, then it is worth taking the time to think everything through. Are there any alternative jobs that could give you greater satisfaction?

26-40: If this is your current job, then it might be advisable to investigate whether any new opportunities are available to you on the job market. This score suggests that you are greatly in need of change. If this is a possible new job, then you should only take the job if you are in urgent need of work and there are no better opportunities on offer.

5-25: If this is your current job, then it is certainly time to look for new possibilities. If it is a potential new job that you can afford to turn down, then you should do exactly that.

Photo credits: Assistant on CabarEng assignment

Semler - Happiness At Work - Gelukkig Werken - Organization

Semler on Happiness at Work

Utopia or the new way of organising?

semlerWe are in a crisis. No one can deny that! Part financial crisis but also a crisis to reorganize the way we work. The internet and the economic changes it creates is completely changing the way we work and interact. And we have to do more with fewer people. Markets are changing rapidly or are disappearing all together. This generates fear and insecurity. At the same time we need inspiration, innovation and openness towards new ideas to overcome our challenges in a totally different way.

Success from happiness at work

Ricardo Semler has chosen for years now to focus on trust, openness and love within the organizations he runs. He wants his employees to become happy at work. The result of his focus has been enormous success (and wealth). Can we learn something of his ideas and perhaps even implement them in our own organizations?

Within my own organization we do our utmost to implement Semler’s ideas. Sometimes with great results and at other times we are falling back to old principles like checks and control. How does that work in your organization? Is organizing the Semler way possible or do you think this is fantasy land which might work in sunny Brazil but is doomed to fail in the country you live in. I am really curious about what you think about this!

More on Semler

You don’t know Semler or you want to know more about his ideas? Check out Semler on Happiness in this interview on how he organizes his companies:  

Here you can find a link to his book on Amazon:The Seven-Day Weekend: Changing the Way Work Works

This article was originally published in Dutch on on 8 feb 2013

happiness at work onno hamburger - happy cattle

What could we learn from happy cattle?

Happy Cattle - Lessons for Happiness At Work - New Castle University - Onno Hamburger - happiness coach What is happy cattle?

Research by Newcastle University shows that cows that are named and treated with a more personal touch, feel much more comfortable in their own skin. These so-called  “happy cattle” reward their caretakers by up to 580 liters of extra milk compared to their less fortunate peers.

More milk annually

What could we learn from such happy cows? I’m not the first to point at the relationship between cows and employees. Peters and Pouw write in their wonderful book Intensive Human Husbandry (Dutch title: Intensieve Menshouderij) how more and more organizations start to resemble a kind of factory farming for people.

Division of labor and workplace optimization is central to such workplaces. Peters and Pouw rightly wonder whether such intensive Human Husbandry actually leads to the best output.

In Ford’s time (early 20th century) the division and optimization of work resulted in lots of extra productivity. Workers had to work, after all, with muscle power and the brainpower was best left behind at the company gate.

Just as cows will produce less milk if they are treated as ‘things’, people will respond alike.

Employees who have little autonomy and few meaningful experiences in their daily work become chronically stressed, are more likely to get sick and are less effective.

What differs humans from a cow?

While cows can still be optimally stimulated when they get personal attention, this is but a starting point for man. Few organizations seem to really understand this and apply it in practice. Some organizations, like Google or Ikea seem to get it, consciously or unconsciously. And they’re miles ahead of the competition. These companies managed to create an atmosphere of safety and trust. In addition, they give people lots of room and autonomy to develop themselves. The result is huge commitment and constant innovation by employees.

Development and meaning as protection against stress

Recent recession and associated uncertainty creates a sense of insecurity and anxiety for many employees. Some companies choose to put activities related to personal development and meaning on the back burner. Countering fear must be the first priority.

As is found with cattle, people are less productive with excess of cortisol (stress hormone). Cows with excess cortisol have reduced milk production. With people, such excess leads to reduced resistance and impaired brain functions. Let’s not forget that a sense of purpose and personal development can also lead to the much needed rest and focus.

Many people nowadays are looking for direction and vision. The old days silo structured stories from churches and unions, biased through affiliated newspapers, radio- and television stations have largely disappeared (we call this in Dutch ‘de-pillarisation’). People are thrown back to themselves and are eagerly looking for direction and meaning.

Why are we doing this? Which way should I go? What is the right choice? When you employ people and assist them with answering such questions, you provide highly necessary peace of mind and security. I’d say it is time for a little less focus on material rewards and more attention to intangible rewards such as development opportunities. Eventually this leads to more sustainable happy employees.

Like with our cows this leads to the productivity improvement and innovation of which businesses are direly in search of at this particular moment. And this closes the loop between cattle and people.

This article was originally published in Dutch on on 1 feb 2009